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Green and Spiegel - An Immigration Law Firm
Jul 8, 2020

The Movement of Skilled Talent from the U.S. to Canada


Like everything else in the world, COVID-19 has impacted immigration in unprecedented ways. With unemployment rates skyrocketing in the past few months, world leaders are looking for the best way to bounce back. In late June, President Trump released a presidential proclamation suspending the entry of foreign nationals on certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas into the United States. The Trump administration deemed the purpose of the proclamation was to protect 525,000 jobs for US citizens, but it has had the effect of shutting down opportunities for many talented foreign nationals seeking employment in the US.

Canada has taken a different approach, Marco Mendicino and Navdeep Bains, the Canadian Ministers of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Innovation, Science and Industry, respectively, have written about the advantages of attracting such talented people. The Ministers explained that by opening our borders to innovative foreign talent, Canada’s businesses have grown, and we have been able to tap into new markets and create more jobs for the Canadian middle class. This is especially true of the Canadian tech industry.

In the past three years, Canada has seen significant growth in the tech industry due in large part to its welcoming immigration policies and programs. At the forefront of these programs is the Global Skills Strategy. A key component of the Global Skills Strategy is the Global Talent Stream (“GTS”) which has streamlined the process of immigration for tech talent from around the world, making it quicker and easier for Canadian companies to bring in these gifted foreign nationals. With its latest proclamation, the US has suspended the H-1B visa, which has been heavily used by American tech companies to bring in top engineering and software development professionals. While the US has closed their borders to these tech personnel, Canada continues to welcome them, working hard to ensure the GTS program continues to run smoothly throughout COVID-19. Even Canadian businesses are looking to benefit from the US turning away talent. Most notably, in the wake of the changes to the H-1B visa, Shopify’s CEO, Tobias Lutke, tweeted an open invitation for resumes stating that “Canada is awesome. Give it a try”.

For tech and skilled workers alike, the Express Entry program is a great option for obtaining Permanent Residency due to its simplicity and relatively quick processing timelines. The Express Entry programs operate using a points system where all eligible applicants are submitted into a pool and biweekly draws determine the minimum amount of points required by those in the pool to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residency. During COVID-19, the focus has been on the Canadian Experience Class which is made up of skilled foreign nationals who have at least one year of Canadian work experience. Now is a great time to apply for the Canadian Experience Class as the draws are showing lower than usual minimum points requirements for invitations to apply. The Federal Skilled Workers program welcomes persons with significant foreign work and/or a high level of education and the Federal Skilled Trades program calls for skilled tradespeople. While these two programs are not currently having draws or sending out invitations to apply for permanent residency, the pool is accepting applications and those eligible are strongly encouraged to apply.

In addition to the Canadian Experience Class draws, there have been periodic draws for the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. PNPs are similar to the federal Express Entry program but each province and territory have their own PNP streams with requirements unique to that province or territory. If you are looking to come to certain Canadian province or territory in Canada and meet the particular needs of their PNP, this is a great way to apply for permanent residency.

If you would like more information about moving to Canada, please contact us.

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