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  • Writer's pictureImmergity Immigration Consultant

Canada's New Frontier Tech Talents: The Digital Nomad Visa Program


Digital Nomad Visa Program

Canada has launched a new initiative targeting digital nomads and tech professionals worldwide to address the tech labor shortage and foster economic growth. This program offers remote workers the opportunity to stay in Canada for up to six months without a work permit, potentially leading to a permanent move. This initiative is a part of Canada's Tech Talent Strategy, aiming to cultivate a long-term talent pool, especially in STEM fields, including roles like data scientists, software developers, and electrical engineers.


The program is structured into four pillars:

  1. Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program: Aiming to attract highly talented individuals to support Canada's innovation and high-tech industries, with plans to launch a new Innovation Stream by the end of 2023.

  2. Promoting Canada as a Destination for Digital Nomads: Focused on attracting digital nomads who can work remotely from anywhere in the world, offering relocation to Canada for up to six months with only visitor status.

  3. Streamlined Work Permit for H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa Holders: Facilitating the mobility of high-tech workers between Canada and the US, with provisions for open work permits for up to three years from July 16, 2023.

  4. Enhancements to Existing Programs: Improving existing immigration programs benefiting high-skilled tech workers, including faster processing times for work permit applications and expanding the Start-up Visa Program.

Details of the Program Digital Nomad Visa Program

​Pillar

​Objective

​Details

Pillar 1: Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program

To attract highly talented individuals to support Canada's innovation and high-tech industries.

- Launch of a new Innovation Stream by the end of 2023.


- Exemption from the labour market impact assessment process for high-growth employers and talented workers.


- Two options under consideration:

  1. Employer-specific work permits for up to five years for workers destined to work for a company identified by the Government of Canada.

  2. Open work permits for up to five years for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations.

Pillar 2: Promoting Canada as a Destination for Digital Nomads

To attract digital nomads who can work remotely from anywhere in the world.

- Digital nomads can relocate to Canada for up to six months at a time with only visitor status.


- Collaboration with public and private partners to develop policies to attract more digital nomads.


- Potential pathways to temporary work permits or permanent residence for digital nomads who secure job offers from Canadian employers.

Pillar 3: Streamlined Work Permit for H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa Holders

To facilitate the mobility of high-tech workers between Canada and the US.

- From July 16, 2023, H-1B visa holders in the US can apply to come to Canada.


- Open work permits for up to three years, allowing work for almost any employer in Canada.


- Spouses and dependents can apply for a temporary resident visa, with work or study permits as needed.


- This measure is capped at 10,000 applications and will last for one year.

Pillar 4: Enhancements to Existing Programs

To improve existing immigration programs that benefit high-skilled tech workers.

- Global Skills Strategy: Faster processing times for work permit applications and labour market impact assessments.


- Start-up Visa Program: Increased spots and open work permits for up to three years for founders, facilitating business development in Canada.

Canada's Tech Talent Strategy

Pillar 1: Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program

In a bid to solidify Canada's standing as a burgeoning hub for technological innovation and to foster the creation of jobs of the future, the Canadian government is gearing up to introduce a pivotal component of its Tech Talent Strategy: the Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program.


Objective

Attracting the Crème de la Crème of Tech Talent

The primary objective of this initiative is to attract highly talented individuals from around the globe to bolster Canada's innovation and high-tech industries. This move is seen as a strategic step to not only fill the in-demand jobs of today but also to bring in skills and business acumen that will be instrumental in crafting the jobs of tomorrow. By doing so, Canada aims to broaden its talent base in the tech sector, which is a critical component in achieving its industrial innovation goals.


Details

Launch of the Innovation Stream

Scheduled to be launched by the end of 2023, the Innovation Stream is designed to be a beacon attracting the brightest minds in the tech industry to Canada. This new stream is being developed in consultation with tech industry stakeholders, who have emphasized the persistent labour shortages in key tech occupations and the necessity to continue expanding Canada's talent pool in this sector.


Exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment

To facilitate a smoother transition for high-growth employers and talented workers, the government plans to create an exemption from the labour market impact assessment process. This exemption is expected to remove potential barriers and bureaucratic red tape, thereby making it easier for employers to hire skilled workers to support Canada's innovation priorities and high-tech industries.


Flexible Work Permit Options

The government is considering two potential options for work permits under this stream, which are not mutually exclusive, offering flexibility and catering to the varied needs of the tech industry:

  1. Employer-Specific Work Permits: This option would allow workers to obtain work permits valid for up to five years, specifically to work for companies identified by the Government of Canada as significant contributors to the country's industrial innovation goals. This approach ensures that companies at the forefront of innovation can secure the talent they need to continue growing and contributing to the Canadian economy.

  2. Open Work Permits: In contrast, this option would provide highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations with open work permits, also valid for up to five years. This would give individuals the freedom to work for any employer in Canada, fostering a dynamic and flexible labour market where talent can flow to where it is most needed.

Pillar 2: Promoting Canada as a Destination for Digital Nomads

Objective

Attracting the Global Remote Workforce

In the modern era, the concept of a workplace has undergone a significant transformation. With the advent of technology, a growing number of professionals, known as digital nomads, have the liberty to work from virtually anywhere in the world. Recognizing this shift, Canada aims to become a preferred destination for these digital nomads, offering them a conducive environment to live and work.


Details

Flexible Relocation Options

Digital nomads, characterized by their remote working capabilities, can now consider relocating to Canada for up to six months at a time, requiring only a visitor status. This initiative is designed to encourage a flow of global talent into Canada, fostering a rich and diverse work culture.


Collaborative Policy Development

To make Canada a hotspot for digital nomads, the government is collaborating with public and private partners. Together, they aim to develop policies that would create a more welcoming and facilitative environment for digital nomads, enhancing Canada's appeal as a global work destination.


Pathways to Temporary Work Permits or Permanent Residence

In addition to offering a friendly environment, the government is also considering establishing pathways that would allow digital nomads to obtain temporary work permits or even permanent residence if they secure job offers from Canadian employers. This move is seen as a strategic step to retain high-caliber talent that can contribute significantly to the Canadian economy.


Pillar 3: Streamlined Work Permit for H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa Holders

Objective

Facilitating Cross-Border Mobility of High-Tech Workers

The third pillar of Canada's Tech Talent Strategy is aimed at facilitating the mobility of high-tech workers between Canada and the US, particularly targeting individuals holding H-1B visas, which are designated for specialty occupations in the US.


Details

Open Work Permits from July 2023

Starting from July 16, 2023, individuals holding H-1B visas in the US will be eligible to apply to come to Canada. This initiative is designed to attract skilled workers in specialty occupations, enhancing the talent pool available in Canada.


Flexible Work Opportunities

Upon approval, these individuals will be granted open work permits valid for up to three years. This permit allows them to work for almost any employer in Canada, offering a great degree of flexibility and opportunities to explore the Canadian job market.


Family Inclusion

Understanding the importance of family unity, the initiative also provides provisions for spouses and dependents of H-1B visa holders. They can apply for a temporary resident visa, along with work or study permits as needed, facilitating a smooth transition for the entire family.


Application Cap and Duration

It's important to note that this measure is capped at 10,000 applications and will be in effect for one year. This limitation ensures a controlled and effective implementation of the program, allowing for potential adjustments based on the initial experience.


Pillar 4: Enhancements to Existing Programs

In a strategic move to further bolster Canada's burgeoning tech industry, the government is focusing on enhancing existing programs that have been pivotal in attracting high-skilled tech workers to the country. This pillar aims to streamline processes and create more opportunities for tech professionals and entrepreneurs, thereby fostering a vibrant and innovative tech ecosystem in Canada.


Objective

Boosting the Efficacy of Existing Immigration Programs

The primary objective of this pillar is to refine and enhance the existing immigration programs that have been instrumental in attracting high-skilled tech workers to Canada. By focusing on improvements that cater to the evolving needs of the tech industry, the government aims to create a more responsive and efficient system that facilitates the influx of global talent, thereby contributing to the growth and innovation of the Canadian tech sector.


Details

Global Skills Strategy

Accelerated Processing Times

Recognizing the dynamic and fast-paced nature of the tech industry, one of the key enhancements under this pillar is the commitment to faster processing times for work permit applications and labour market impact assessments. This move is expected to significantly reduce the waiting time for tech professionals, enabling them to commence their roles in Canada more swiftly and contribute to the industry's growth.


Facilitating Smooth Entry into the Canadian Job Market

By streamlining the processing times, the Global Skills Strategy aims to facilitate a smoother entry for tech professionals into the Canadian job market. This enhancement is seen as a critical step in ensuring that Canada remains competitive in attracting global talent, as it allows employers to respond more quickly to emerging opportunities and challenges in the tech sector.


Start-up Visa Program

Expanded Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

In addition to focusing on tech professionals, this pillar also emphasizes nurturing entrepreneurship through the Start-up Visa Program. The government plans to increase the number of spots available under this program, thereby creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses in Canada.


Open Work Permits for Founders

To further facilitate business development in Canada, the government is introducing open work permits valid for up to three years for founders under the Start-up Visa Program. This initiative is designed to provide founders with the flexibility to explore and capitalize on various opportunities in Canada, fostering innovation and contributing to economic growth.


Comparison with Other Programs

The digital nomad visa program is a novel initiative that distinctly stands out when compared to other Canadian immigration programs. Here, we delineate how it contrasts with some of the existing programs:


Express Entry System

The Express Entry system, which encompasses the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class, generally requires applicants to meet certain criteria regarding work experience, education, and language proficiency. In contrast, the digital nomad visa program primarily targets remote workers in the tech sector, offering a more streamlined process with reduced administrative hurdles.


Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

While the PNP allows Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and are interested in settling in a particular province, the digital nomad visa program offers a more flexible approach, allowing tech professionals to work remotely from anywhere in Canada without being tied to a specific province.


Family Sponsorship Program

The Family Sponsorship Program is designed to reunite families, allowing Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their relatives to come to Canada. The digital nomad visa program, on the other hand, is geared towards attracting individual tech professionals globally, focusing on bolstering Canada's tech industry rather than family reunification.


Work Permit for Canada

Traditional work permits for Canada often require a job offer from a Canadian employer and adherence to specific conditions stipulated in the permit. The digital nomad visa program simplifies this process, allowing individuals to work remotely for foreign employers, with the potential to secure job offers from Canadian employers during their stay.


Open Work Permit

While open work permits allow individuals to work for any employer in Canada, they are usually issued under specific circumstances such as through the International Experience Canada program. The digital nomad visa program extends this flexibility to a broader category of tech professionals, facilitating easier entry and stay in Canada.


Start-up Visa Program

The Start-up Visa Program is aimed at immigrant entrepreneurs looking to establish businesses in Canada. The digital nomad visa program complements this by attracting tech professionals who can potentially collaborate with these start-ups, fostering a vibrant tech ecosystem in Canada.


Business Visa Program

The Business Visa Program, which includes the Immigrant Investor Program and the Self-Employed Persons Program, focuses on attracting individuals who can contribute to Canada's economic development through investment and business acumen. The digital nomad visa program, however, targets tech professionals who can contribute to the economy through their skills and expertise in the tech sector.


In essence, the digital nomad visa program is aligned with the changing dynamics of the work environment, recognizing the increasing trend of remote work and offering a flexible solution to balance remote work and office collaboration, making it a unique and promising initiative in Canada's immigration landscape.




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