Canada has introduced new rules to attract high-skilled professionals, particularly targeting H-1B visa holders and U.S. companies. The Canadian government aims to encourage more foreign-born scientists and engineers to immigrate to Canada, aligning with the economic benefits associated with high-skilled immigration. The new policies put U.S. lawmakers who support restrictions on business immigration at odds with other countries seeking to attract talent.
Open Work Permits For H-1B Visa Holders
One significant aspect of the new policy is the offer of open work permits to H-1B visa holders in the U.S. Starting from July 16, 2023, H-1B professionals and their immediate family members will be eligible to apply for work permits in Canada. Approved applicants will receive work permits of up to three years, allowing them to work for any employer in Canada. In contrast, the U.S. has annual and per-country limits on H-1B visas and green card applications, resulting in challenges for many H-1B holders.
The policy also extends work authorization to spouses and dependents of H-1B professionals who come to Canada. This is in contrast to the U.S., where only spouses of H-1B visa holders with pending green card applications are eligible for employment authorization.
The new program has a numerical limit of 10,000 applications or one year, with only principal applicants counting against the limit. The Canadian government expects that most applicants under this policy will already have arranged employment in Canada. However, the open work permit will make it easier for them to find jobs, as employers can skip the initial immigration paperwork and other approvals.
H-1B Visa Holders
The new policy is likely to benefit three categories of H-1B visa holders. First, those who face layoffs in the U.S. and are unable to find new jobs within 60 days may prefer going to Canada on an open work permit. Second, H-1B professionals waiting in employment-based immigrant backlogs, who might find the wait for permanent residence in the U.S. too long, would likely seek employment with Canadian companies before leaving their U.S. jobs. Third, H-1B visa holders denied an extension in the U.S. might explore the opportunities provided by Canada’s policy.
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U.S. companies with operations in Canada can leverage the new policy to retain employees facing U.S. immigration issues. Canada’s efforts to attract foreign workers have already proven successful, with Toronto ranking as the third-largest tech employment hub in North America. Research suggests that restrictions on H-1B immigration lead firms to increase foreign affiliate employment, particularly in countries like Canada, China, and India.
IT Professionals & Supporting High-Growth Employers
Canada has additional programs aimed at facilitating the admission of IT professionals and supporting high-growth employers. The government plans to ease labor market assessment requirements by creating exemptions and implementing employer-specific work permits and open work permits for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations. Furthermore, improvements to Canada’s startup visa program are expected, although the employment route or starting a company in another country and transferring to Canada may still be faster options.
Dissatisfaction with the U.S. immigration system has fueled the increased interest in Canada. The long waits for employment-based green cards and challenges in obtaining H-1B status have driven many Indians to immigrate to Canada. The new Canadian policies provide more opportunities for U.S. companies to retain H-1B visa holders and may highlight the need for more liberalized immigration policies in the U.S.
Overall, the content highlights Canada’s efforts to attract high-skilled professionals and U.S. companies through new policies, offering open work permits to H-1B visa holders and their families. The content also explores the potential benefits of the policy for different groups and the dissatisfaction with the U.S. immigration system.
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