Canada’s New Immigration and Work Permit Opportunities for STEM Professionals

Canada’s commitment to attracting and retaining global talent in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sector makes it a desirable destination for many foreign professionals looking for immigration and work permits in the country.

Recent announcements aim at further expanding the country’s immigration and work permit opportunities for STEM professionals to foster economic growth and global competitiveness. This post comprehensively overviews Canada’s new and most prominent temporary and permanent residence options for STEM talent.

Express Entry: A Popular Federal Process for Permanent Residence

Express Entry is one of the main ways Canada welcomes skilled immigrants into the country. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced, on May 31st, the launching of category-based selection draws specific for Express Entry candidates.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that it would prioritize Express Entry candidates with strong French language proficiency or professionals with work experience in the following fields:

  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  • Agriculture and agri-food
  • Healthcare
  • Transport
  • Trades, such as carpenters, contractors, and plumbers

IRCC held its first STEM category-based draw on July 5th, where the body invited 500 STEM professionals to apply for permanent residence in the country. The category-based draw invites top-ranking candidates in general and targeted draws who can meet the country’s labour and job market vacancies and further its economic goals.

IRCC uses a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool. This process allows IRCC to invite the most eligible STEM applicants who meet all the set requirements from the draw.

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Global Talent StreamWork Permits

This immigration and work permit opportunity is aimed at foreign nationals specializing in IT. The Global Talent Stream (GTS) has a two-week standard for processing work permit applications for skilled tech talent.

The GTS offers two categories, including:

  • Category A: caters to high-growth companies looking for unique, specialized talent internationally. A designated referral partner must refer them to the GTS.
  • Category B: caters to employers outsourcing certain high-skilled workers for occupations on the Global Talent Occupations List. These occupations must be determined to be in high demand and must have insufficient labour supply in the country.

STEM professionals are eligible under Category B, as the occupations mainly consist of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics positions.

Notably, GTS is also available in Quebec and offers similar opportunities for STEM talent.

Quebec’s Facilitated Processing Stream of Work Permits

Quebec’s Facilitated Processing Stream allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers under certain targeted occupations. The Facilitated Processing Stream waives some of the requirements often required by the Labour Impact Assessment Process (LMIA). These may include advertising the vacant position and other recruitment efforts by the employer.

However, while the employer isn’t obligated to advertise the position for which they are looking to hire a foreign worker, they must prove the following:

  • The foreign worker must meet the educational and experience requirements for the job position and those of the National Occupational Classification.
  • The hourly wage offered by the temporary foreign worker must be consistent with the wage rate offered to Canadian and permanent residents in the same work position and geographic area.
  • Employers must have a transition plan for all high-wage LMIA applicants for the second or subsequent applications for an LMIA.

Quebec’s Facilitated Processing Stream allows its employers to capitalize on its facilitated occupations list, including all eligible occupation categories for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Many of these occupations are STEM professions.

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Photo by Max Mishin on

New H1-B Open Work Permit Program

The IRCC announced it would launch the New H1-B open work permit program starting July 16th, 2023. This new immigration and work permit opportunity is still in the early phase, and program eligibility criteria and other critical details are still being finalized.

However, as of now, we know that certain United States H1-B speciality occupation visa holders should be eligible for a streamlined work permit in the country. Workers who are qualified and are approved for the program should receive an open work permit to work in Canada for up to three years. These immigrants should be able to work for almost any employer in the country.

According to the IRCC, this new immigration and work permit opportunity should expand the country’s reach for skilled workers pursuing high-tech careers. The new H1-B open work permit program makes this possible while allowing these high-tech skilled workers to contribute to the economic growth of North America.

The new H1-B open work permit program also allows temporary resident visa applications for spouses and dependents of successful applicants, but with a study or work permit, as needed.

IRCC also announced it would leave applications open and remain in effect for one year or until the body receives 10,000 applications. This number should constitute only principal applicants, not their spouses, dependents, or accompanying family members will count to this application cap.

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