If you are a tech worker looking to migrate to Canada, there are a number of options available to you. As a foreign national, you will need at least a work permit in order to legally work in Canada. However, you can just apply for permanent residency directly. This will allow you to be able to work in Canada legally. However, if you feel this is a longer route, we will share some options on how to migrate to Canada as a tech worker.
Global Talent Stream
A major temporary path is the Global Talent Stream. This route is designed to process 80 per cent of applications in two weeks or less. This program allows employers o bring in high-skilled staff quickly. As an employer, you be either Category A or B.
- Category A is for companies that are growing very quickly and need specialized talent from abroad. A “Category A” employer must get approval from a referral partner. This is usually a local, governmental or semi-governmental agency that has as its mission a city or area’s economic development.
- Category B is for employers who are looking for certain skilled workers that Canada has listed as being needed, but in short supply. The list is known as the Global Talent Occupations List. Canada’s most recent list contains twelve occupations. Each of them is in the technology field.
Employers must meet certain other requirements. For example, they must show that hiring the foreigner will create permanent benefits for Canada. Also, the employer must show they are paying the foreigner a certain minimum wage.
Permanent Residency Routes
If you are planning to stay in Canada more long term, you should consider applying for permanent residency. As a permanent resident, you don’t need a work permit. Also, the possibility of becoming a citizen opens up after a few years of living in Canada as a permanent resident. You will find below some of the pathways to become a permanent resident.
Express Entry is the most popular immigration pathway for skilled workers across irrespective of your disciplines. Tech workers, specifically, can come to Canada through two of the three programs that are managed by the Express Entry system:
- the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), and
- the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
There is also the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) but it is more for trades people.
FSW is often well-suited for people living outside Canada. To qualify for FSW, a person must have at least one year of Canadian or foreign work experience in a high-skilled job. These are occupations Canada classifies as National Occupation Code (NOC) Categories A or B. Generally, tech jobs are NOC A. FSW applicants must also score a minimum of 7 on either the English CLB or the French NCLC language scoring systems. They do not need a job offer, but having one can add more points to their overall score.
CEC is designed for people who have already studied or worked in Canada. To qualify, a person needs to have worked at least one year (in the past three) in a NOC A or B job in Canada. They must have CLB or NCLC 7 if their occupation is NOC A. As with FSW, no job offer is required but having one can boost your points.
Aside the options above, each province also administers its own immigration programs that help address more regional labour market needs. You will find below some of the dedicated technology streams.
Alberta Accelerated Tech Pathway
The Alberta Provincial Nominee Program offers an accelerated tech pathway for tech workers to migrate to Canada. The Alberta Accelerated Tech Pathway Immigration Program will provide a fast track to permanent residence for highly skilled tech professionals that want to live and work in Alberta.
For more information about this program and the eligibility criteria, read our write-up on the Alberta Accelerated Tech Pathway Immigration Program.
British Columbia Tech
The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) offers a priority pathway called the BC Tech stream available to certain tech workers. This Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) targets candidates who have job offers in one of 29 eligible tech occupations.
To be eligible, you must qualify for at least one other B.C. immigration program. The Tech stream is a special path that works within other programs, rather than being a program itself. You need to have an offer for a job in your occupation and it must be for at least one year.
Eligible candidates will receive invitation to apply for a provincial nomination from the BC PNP through the tech draws. BC Tech candidates get several benefits such as priority processing, and a special processing officer.
Ontario Tech Draws
Ontario conducts Tech Draws from time to time. To be eligible for a Tech Draw, you need to have work experience in one of the following six tech occupations:
- software engineers and designers;
- computer programmers and interactive media developers;
- computer engineers;
- web designers and developers;
- database analysts and data administrators; and
- computer and information systems managers.
Quebec Immigration Program for Workers in Artificial Intelligence, Information Technology, and Visual Effects Sectors
The province of Quebec launched this immigration pilot only a few months ago. This program has two streams.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This stream has two sub-streams: one for people who graduated from a Quebec college or university, and one for workers trained abroad. The two categories differ somewhat in what they require. For example, the Quebec sub-graduate stream will require the applicant to have experience and a job offer. The foreign workers sub-stream does not require a job offer, in some cases. But, both demand that an applicant have relevant education at least equal to a Quebec bachelor’s degree.
Information Technology (IT) and Visual Effects
People in this program must have worked for at least two out of the last five years in 10 occupations. They also need to have an ongoing job or new job offer in their field. In addition, they must meet the education requirement. They must prove they have at least the equivalent of a Quebec technical studies diploma or bachelor’s degree.
Both streams have two further divisions:
- One is for francophones, and
- one for non-francophones.
A person who applies under the francophone category must show that they have an advanced intermediate knowledge of French. The non-francophone stream is highly unusual. Usually, a Quebec immigration category will require knowledge of French.
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