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

Published on: June 25th, 2020

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

National Occupations Classification (NOC) codeOccupation title
213Computer and information systems managers
2147Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)
Sub-set 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
Sub-set of 5241***Digital media designers
**Minimum work experience requirements apply

DESIGNATED PARTNERS

Business Development Bank of Canada
Council of Canadian Innovators
Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada - Accelerated Growth Service
Invest in Canada
National Research Council - Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
Privy Council Office, Special Projects Team
TECHNATION
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (multiple locations across the region)
Ignite Fredericton
Venn Innovation
Government of New Brunswick – Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
Genesis
Cape Breton Partnership
Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Business Inc.
Halifax Partnership
Government of Prince Edward Island, Island Investment Development Inc.
Burlington Economic Development Corporation
Invest Brampton
Invest in Hamilton
City of Mississauga
Communitech Corporation
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Government of Ontario, Labour, Training and Skills Development – Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
Government of Ontario, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade – Ontario Investment Office
Invest Ottawa
Kingston Economic Development Corporation
London Economic Development Corporation
MaRS Discovery District
Regional Municipality of Niagara
York Region
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
Toronto Global
Town of Oakville
Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation
Invest Windsor Essex
Canadian Economic Development for Quebec Regions
For other designated referral partners located in Quebec for the Global Talent Stream, employers from Quebec are invited to consult Quebec’s ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) website (French only).
Calgary Economic Development
Edmonton Metropolitan Region Economic Development Company a.k.a Edmonton Global
Government of Alberta, Alberta Labour and Immigration
Accelerate Okanagan
BC Tech Association
Government of British Columbia, Ministry Municipal Affairs
Kootenay Association for Science & Technology
Launch Academy
Vancouver Economic Commission
Venture Kamloops
Economic Development Winnipeg
Government of Manitoba, Manitoba Education and Training
Tech Manitoba
Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Immigration and Career Training
Last updated May 10, 2022

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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