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How H-1B Visa Holders and Other Economic Immigrants Can Come to Canada

This week, the Trump administration issued a new executive order restricting economic immigration to the U.S. for the rest of the year. These types of visas allow more than half a million immigrants to enter the U.S. each year. The new ruling includes restrictions on the popular H-1B visa which allows American businesses to recruit hundreds of thousands of skilled workers every year. Many of those skilled workers will now be looking to Canada as a more welcoming alternative.

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In a recent television interview, Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino stated that Canada would continue to welcome new immigrants. Canada has many programs and immigration streams that cater to the very skilled workers that the U.S. is now turning away.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of the H-1B visa has lead some experts to believe that there could be a shift away from the United States and towards Canada.

Moving to Canada with an H-1B Visa

If you’re already in the United States on an H-1B visa, you may be very well-positioned to make the move to Canada. Depending on your profile, you may choose to continue as a temporary foreign worker north of the border, or make the change to permanent residence.

Working temporarily in Canada

Over 300,000 foreign nationals enter Canada every year through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers for a limited amount of time.

In most cases, you need a valid job offer from a Canadian employer to be eligible for a Canadian work permit. However, unlike in the United States, there is no lottery system to determine who is accepted. If you and your employer meet the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) requirements, your application will be duly processed.

In June, 2017, the Government of Canada launched the Global Talent Stream, which provides a two-week processing standard for certain work permits if the Canadian employer is either referred to the Global Talent Stream by a designated partner, or hiring a worker in a position identified on the Global Talent occupations list.

Many of the identified occupations are in the information technology (IT) sector.

GLOBAL TALENT OCCUPATION LIST

NOC CodeOccupation
0213Computer and information systems managers
2147Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)
Subset of 2161*Mathematicians and statisticians
*Positions for actuaries or related occupations are excluded from this subset
2171Information systems analysts and consultants
2172Database analysts and data administrators
2173Software engineers and designers
2174Computer programmers and interactive media developers
2175Web designers and developers
2281Computer network technicians
2283Information systems testing technicians
Sub-set of 5131*Producer, technical, creative and artistic director and project manager – Visual effects and video game
*in addition to the position having an annual salary of at least $75,000 ($36.06 per hour) or the prevailing wage (if the prevailing wage is higher), the position must require a minimum of five years of experience in the visual effects, video game or animation industries in one or a combination of the following roles: producer, technical director, creative director, artistic director or project manager, with experience in at least one or more of the following skills relevant to the visual effects, video game or animation industries: surfacing and look development; character or simulation rigging; matte painting; or technical pipeline development and application for visual effects, video games, or animation production.
Sub-set of 5241**Digital media designers
**in addition to the position having an annual salary of at least $80,000 ($38.46 per hour) or the prevailing wage (if the prevailing wage is higher), the position must require a minimum of five years of experience in at least one of the following digital media design skills: 3D modeling, virtual reality, augmented reality, digital media animation, levels editing for digital media design, software editing for digital media design, pipeline software development or applications relevant for digital media design

DESIGNATED PARTNERS

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Accelerate Okanagan
BC Tech Association
Burlington Economic Development Corporation
Business Development Bank of Canada
Canadian Economic Development for Quebec Regions
Cape Breton Partnership
City of Hamilton's Economic Development Office
Communitech Corporation
Council of Canadian Innovators
Economic Development Winnipeg
Edmonton Economic Development
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Genesis (Newfoundland)
Global Affairs Canada's Trade Commissioner Service
Government of Alberta, Alberta Labour
Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Government of Manitoba, Manitoba Education and Training
Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Business Inc.
Government of Ontario, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade – Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
Government of Ontario, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade – Ontario Investment Office
Government of Ontario, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade – Ontario Investment Office
Government of Prince Edward Island, Island Investment Development Inc.
Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of the Economy
Halifax Partnership
ICT Association of Manitoba (ICTAM)
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada - Accelerated Growth Service
Invest Ottawa
Invest in Canada
Launch Academy
London Economic Development Corporation
MaRS Discovery District
National Research Council - Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
Privy Council Office, Special Projects Team
Regional Municipality of York
Vancouver Economic Commission
Venn Innovation
Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation
WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation

Options to immigrate to Canada permanently

If you are already in the United States on an H-1B visa, you are likely a strong candidate for economic immigration to Canada.

There are three major federal Canadian economic immigration programs:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
  2. Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

These programs are managed by the federal Express Entry system. If you meet the eligibility requirements for one of the programs managed by Express Entry, you can submit a profile to the Express Entry pool.

Once in the pool, your profile will receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on things like your age, level of education, and work experience. The highest-ranking candidates are issued invitations to apply (ITA) for permanent residence in periodic Express Entry draws.

Curious what your CRS score might be? Canadim’s CRS score calculator lets you estimate your CRS score for Express Entry immigration to Canada.

As a skilled worker in the United States, you are most likely to meet the requirements for the Federal Skilled Worker program.

However, most Canadian provinces also offer pathways to permanent residence for skilled workers. While eligibility requirements and application procedures vary between provinces, there may be an option for you. If you are eligible for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), you can apply to the province for a provincial nomination. If you are successful, you can then apply for Canadian permanent residence from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

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