With the rejection rate of H-1B visa applications on the rise in the United States and President Trump’s recent plans to restrict the entry of foreign workers under various work visas, highly skilled foreign workers who depend on work visas are turning to Canada in search of stability and new opportunities. Canada’s Global Talent Stream (GTS) is one example of an increasingly popular work permit program that has been used to bring H1B holders specializing in IT and STEM-related occupations to Canada on an expedited basis.
GTS was launched in June 2017 by Immigration Canada and is focused on foreign talents specialized in IT and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In an effort to help the Canadian companies grow and prosper, the processing time for a work permit under this program is only two weeks and there is no cap limit on the number of application intake per year. As part of the process, the Canadian employers are expected to provide certain commitments to the government with a main focus on activities that will have a benefit to the Canadian economy through the employment of the highly-skilled global talent.
On the other hand, the U.S. H-1B visa is mainly focused on the tech industry and allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers for specialty occupations which requires more experienced and highly educated professionals. There is a cap instituted by law limiting the number of H-1B visas that are issued each year. The processing time for this visa can vary from 2 to 6 months, which arguably is way longer than the processing time for GTS applications in Canada.
Due to popularity and tremendous success of GTS, the Canadian government converted this program which started as a pilot project in 2017 into a permanent program in 2019. Canada wants workers who can help to alleviate labour shortages across the country, particularly in the IT/tech sector. As more Canadians retire and birthrates stagnate, Canada is looking to international talent to come and be a part of something special in this country. The attitude to immigrants from the government, employers and communities is broadly welcoming, something that in most cases experienced quite differently in US. Also, Canada’s immigration system is set up to support the arrival and integration of younger, highly-educated people with strong English skills and work experience in a managerial, professional or technical occupation. As a H1-B worker, one would probably tick most, if not all, of these boxes, and moving from the USA to Canada may be relatively straightforward. If the foreign worker happens to speak French as well, or have a sibling living in Canada, the prospects are even stronger.
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