3 Best Immigration Paths to Canada In 2021: Global Talent Stream, Intra-Company Transfer and Provincial Nominee Program

January 6, 2021

At a high level, Canada offers three main immigration pathways — economic, family-sponsored, and refugee — but Canada’s economic immigration process welcomes the largest number of immigrants to Canada with about 6 in 10 immigrants entering Canada on the basis of their positive economic impact.

And the sheer number of immigrants to Canada is on the rise. Canada recently announced a boost to its immigration targets and plans to welcome upwards of 1.2 million new permanent residents between now and 2023.

So while there are a number of routes that companies and talented individuals can take to really capitalize on this boost in Canadian immigration, this article highlights three that are fantastic options for technology workers looking to head north and technology companies looking to hire tech talent: Global Talent Stream, Intra Company Transfer, and Provincial Nominees Programs.

Let’s take a look at these programs, how they work, and why they’re great for those who want to truly take advantage of Canada’s immigration system and growing tech scene.

Tech companies have an easy time bringing tech talent to Canada through Global Talent Stream

As Canada’s population begins to age at the same time the country’s tech industry continues to boom, the need to attract in-demand tech talent has never been greater. Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, and through it, the Global Talent Stream, does just that.

Canada’s Global Skills Strategy (GSS) was launched in 2017 to bring top talent from around the globe to Canada, and fast. GSS breaks down into three major parts:

  • Two-week visa processing (though it’s been somewhat longer during COVID)
  • Launch of Global Talent Stream for employers
  • Work permit exemptions for short-term business travel

There are two categories of foreign-born workers who are eligible for GSS: Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt workers and workers who require an LMIA.

LMIA-exempt workers must apply for work outside Canada, and the positions they apply for must be “managerial” or “professional” in nature. Most importantly, the employer must be exempt from needing a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which shows “that there is a need for a foreign worker” based on a combination of factors like whether there’s a labor shortage for that particular job. On the flip side, workers who do require an LMIA must apply for work outside Canada, and their Canadian employer must have a positive LMIA through the Global Talent Stream.

So, what is the Global Talent Stream?

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) empowers Canadian companies to quickly hire highly-skilled foreign talent when Canadians or permanent residents are not available. GTS lets employers skip the LMIA process because the skills they seek are in such high demand that the government gives blanket approval to hire those foreign workers. The kinds of jobs covered by GTS most often include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics positions.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic closing borders and slowing immigration, the Global Talent Stream program in Canada has continued to operate. The goal of GTS is to expedite and ease the processing time for visa and work permit applications for foreign nationals who possess unique talents or are highly skilled. The typical timelines are 10 business days to assess applications and 14 business days to process work permits for qualified workers, though, as mentioned, COVID-19 has impacted these quick turnaround times.

Lots of highly skilled global talent consider both the US’s H-1B visa and Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, but with the US experiencing so many bumps in the road in its H-1B visa program, now is an excellent time to consider a future in Canada.

Bringing talent into Canada through an intra-company transfer

Canada’s impressive and ever-growing pool of skilled labor is a huge attraction for international companies considering expansion into Canada. The intra-company transfer program allows key employees of a company that has a parent, branch, or affiliate company, or is looking to open up a new office in Canada, to be able to move to and work in Canada. Bringing international employees to Canada as intra-company transferees allows employers to skip getting a Labour Market Impact Assessment as well.

In order to qualify for the intra-company transfer program, the employee needs to check a few boxes.

  1. First, the applicant must have worked for the company for at least one year on a full-time basis.
  2. Second, they must have been offered a position with a Canadian branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the foreign company.
  3. Third, they must fall into one of these three categories:

  • Executives who receive only general supervision or no supervision from other executives, directors, or shareholders.
  • Senior managers who supervise other managers or who manage essential functions within the business.
  • Workers with a specialized knowledge or an advanced level of expertise.

Under the Global Skills Strategy, Intra-Company Transfer applicants qualify for 2-week processing time and once accepted, the duration of the Intra-Company Transfer work permit is seven years for executives and senior managers and five years for specialized knowledge workers. Once the transferee has reached their maximum work permit duration, they must work full-time outside of Canada in order to reapply for the program. 

I recently spoke to Alex Khadempour, the managing director and a partner at CICS Immigration Inc., who let me in on a little-known secret: While a majority of Intra-Company Transfer applicants move to Canada to work at an existing Canadian branch of their company, it’s possible to use the Intra-Company Transfer work permit to move to Canada and start a new Canadian office too.

Intra-Company Transfer applicants who own a business or hold an executive position with a company are able to enter Canada to open an office there. To make this work you’ll need to have a parent company that you can prove through tax documentation and financial reports is well-established. And you aren’t required to open the exact same office in Canada – your new office can be a spinoff, as long as it’s related to the parent company and you bring in at least one executive to run it.

There are many benefits to pursuing an Intra-Company Transfer over other temporary work permit programs, including having a faster application time because it doesn’t require a Labour Market Opinion which can take months to process. Best of all, the Intra-Company Transfer program can be leveraged in a future application for Canadian Permanent Residency.

Canada has recently become a huge draw for American companies that are opening up offices in Canada now more than ever before. Using the Intra-Company Transfer program to open an office in Canada gives companies access to an amazingly diverse labor pool and a relatively easy-to-navigate immigration system for current and future employees. 

So would you believe that not many people or companies take advantage of Intra-Company Transfer program’s many perks?

“A lot of lawyers and consultants actually don’t know about this path,” Alex admits. But he warns that if the Intra-Company Transfer program piques your interest, you should move fast. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in one or two years everybody jumps on Intra-Company Transfer, it becomes saturated and the Canadian government changes the laws and makes it more difficult.”

Provincial Nominee Programs are great for getting tech talent into Canada

Since its introduction in the 1990s, Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) have become the second most popular pathway to obtain permanent residence for skilled foreign workers and aims to admit over 60,000 people annually. So what exactly is this unique pathway all about?

PNPs give some of Canada’s provinces and territories the power to control their own immigration programs as a way to attract workers with specific skills. Today, eleven Canadian provinces and territories have the ability to customize and accelerate their own immigration processing in order to fill gaps in their regional labor market. 

There are two main types of PNP streams: skilled worker and business immigration. The skilled worker PNP requires that you have a job offer or a current position with a provincial employer in an industry that meets local needs. The business immigration PNP allows you to start, invest in, or buy a business in the province. 

Check out our recent article that goes into detail for each PNP, or click through the links below to learn more:

Speed is one of the biggest perks of the Provincial Nominee Program. Each PNP is different depending on the province or territory, but most applications are processed in two weeks to nine months. Plus, some PNPs don’t even require a job offer from a Canadian employer to apply, and others require only a low level of language proficiency.

But the main reason many people apply for a PNP is for the major Express Entry boost.

Express Entry is a points-based immigration program that allows individuals with enough “points” to apply for Canadian permanent residency. In recent months, the minimum number of points needed has hovered around 470 for permanent residency hopefuls to be eligible to move onto the next step.

So how do PNPs play a role in this?

Well, when a PNP application is approved by the province, it’s known as being “nominated” by the province. This provincial nomination via a PNP is the single most valuable factor within Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System. PNP nominees get 600 points towards their overall scores, which essentially guarantees permanent residence in Canada.

Path2Canada helps match skilled foreign tech workers with Canadian employers in Canada

New immigrants are one of the primary factors driving Canada’s continued growth. And Path2Canada is here to help.

Path2Canada helps foreign-born tech workers explore Canadian jobs and connects them with Canadian tech companies willing to sponsor them. Path2Canada also helps Canadian tech companies find experienced tech talent who are seeking to move permanently to Canada. We pre-qualify applicants so you only interview those best fit for the job. 

Are you an individual looking for a tech job in Canada? Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you, or join our database of qualified candidates seeking to move to Canada!

And if you’re a Canadian company looking to hire tech talent in Canada, reach out to us! We have thousands of qualified candidates at the ready.

Finally, if you want to know whether you qualify for any of the PNPs or are seeking help with the process, please reach out to our partner Visto.ai.