Canada Streamlines Work Permit Process for Talented Skilled Foreign Workers
Certain skilled workers can expect their Canadian work permit applications (and Canada visa applications, where applicable) to be processed within two weeks—compared with the current wait times of up to five or more months—under a new program, beginning June 12, 2017. Dubbed the Global Talent Stream, the streamlined immigration option will benefit high-growth companies needing unique foreign talent in order to scale-up and companies needing highly skilled foreign talent in occupations on a new Skills Shortage List. Another key element of Canada’s new Global Skills Strategy is faster processing for short-term (30 days or less in a 12-month period) highly skilled, low-risk workers.
Canadian immigration law allows Canadian employers to access foreign workers in certain situations where Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not available in the Canadian labor market. As a general policy, before Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will issue a work permit to a foreign national, the foreign national’s prospective employer must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada/Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) confirming the need for a temporary worker and that no Canadians are available to do the job.
Obtaining an LMIA-based work permit can be an onerous process for an employer and one that can take up to five months or longer, unless the employer is able to benefit from variations to the general LMIA recruitment requirements, or falls under an expedited stream or one of the LMIA exemption codes. To avoid unnecessary delays and costs when recruiting foreign nationals for work in Canada, it is therefore important for employers to assess whether any variations, expedited streams or exemptions are available.
With a view to facilitating the hiring of talented skilled workers from overseas in an organized and fast manner, IRCC recently announced that, on June 12, 2017, it will launch a new, 24-month pilot program, the Global Talent Stream (GTS). Eligible employers will benefit from expedited processing times for certain LMIA-exempt work permits as well as a new LMIA program with quicker processing times. It is anticipated that ESDC will process these LMIA applications within 10 business days (rather than the current timing of up to several months), and after the LMIA application is approved by ESDC, IRCC will process the work permit application within 10 business days. The goal of this initiative is to facilitate immediate access to top global talent for certain eligible companies conducting business in Canada.
Two categories of employers will be eligible for the GTS. Category A covers high-growth companies with a demonstrated need for unique talent to scale-up and grow. Category B covers companies with a demonstrated need for highly-skilled foreign nationals for occupations found on a Skills Shortage List. The details of the GTS and the requirements to qualify as a Category A or B company are still being developed.
IRCC also announced that there will be a simplified process for short-duration employment (30 days or less) and high-value work. The purpose of this streamlined process is to help employers expand operations and grow their business in Canada. The details of this initiative are also currently being developed; however, it is anticipated that this simplified process will be available to workers in specific occupations (to be determined) and to citizens of countries that are exempt from having to obtain a temporary resident visa to enter Canada.
New information will be posted as it becomes available. Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding this new program.