The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is Canada’s answer to an economy in need of highly-skilled workers. According to data released in June 2019, two years into the GTS, nearly 40,000 people had come to Canada through the stream. Of these newcomers to Canada, nearly 24,000 were highly skilled workers in occupations such as computer programming, information system analysis and software engineering.
So, what’s the Global Talent Stream all about?
The GTS, part of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, is an immigration program that allows Canadian employers to expedite the hiring of foreign workers to fill specialized occupations when Canadians aren’t available for specific roles.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to process Global Talent Stream work permit applications in only two weeks, making the program the fastest immigration pathway for workers seeking a new life in Canada.
Consequently, it’s easy to see why more than 1,100 Canadian employers used the Global Talent Stream in its first two years. These employers have committed to creating more than 48,000 jobs and more than 12,500 paid co-op positions, while dedicating over $113 million in skills development and training.
What is the Global Talent Stream?
GTS applications are processed under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), a collection of work permit streams that brings newcomers to Canada on temporary work permits to fill specific labour needs. GTS is the wing of the TFWP for highly-skilled workers in specialized occupations, prioritizing those with experience in engineering and tech-related fields.
The Global Talent Stream was introduced in June, 2017 as a two-year pilot program. The program is jointly managed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Since being introduced, thousands of skilled foreign workers have successfully moved to Canada through the GTS, with many more workers expected to arrive in the years to come.
In the 2019 Federal Budget the government announced the program would become a permanent fixture in Canadian immigration, giving “local businesses expedited and predictable access to top global talent.”
Why does Canada need GTS?
Canadians recognize the importance of immigration to the economy. With the highest job vacancy rate in decades, immigration is necessary in Canada to ensure the country has enough workers to fill its many open positions. GTS is one of the many ways in which Canada welcomes foreign workers to contribute economically.
The Global Talent Stream also helps Canada to remain competitive in the global market, especially with regards to Canada’s southern neighbour, the United States. In recent years, the United States has implemented increasingly restrictive immigration policies for their H-1B visa program which, similar to the GTS, has allowed skilled workers to work temporarily in the US.
Under the Trump Administration, H-1B visa applicants have encountered the suspension of premium processing and an increase in the number of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and visa denials. With Canada’s increasingly relaxed immigration requirements and high rate of job openings, many skilled workers are choosing Canada over the United States in a phenomenon that’s been deemed Canada’s brain gain. Another difference between the GTS and the H-1B is that spouses and partners of GTS applicants bound for Canada may obtain an open work permit, allowing them to work in Canada for any employer and to switch jobs if they wish to do so; spouses and partners of H-1B workers bound for the US may experience difficulty in securing the right to work in that country under proposed changes.
The GTS is an excellent option for Canadian employers who need to fill specialized positions quickly and for foreign nationals with highly-skilled work experience, especially in engineering and tech-related fields. In the next two sections, we’ll look over the eligibility requirements and application procedure for Canadian employers and for foreign workers.
How does the GTS work? - Employers
All TFWP immigration streams use Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) to determine if a Canadian employer can hire a foreign worker. An LMIA is a document that assesses whether or not an available position can be filled by a Canadian worker. A positive LMIA indicates that there is no Canadian talent available to fill a position, thereby enabling the employer to hire someone from outside of the country.
Normally, an LMIA application takes months to prepare, submit, and process. With the GTS, many steps to the LMIA application are removed and the processing time is much faster. This allows Canadian employers to remain competitive in the global market, quickly bringing in talent to fill labour market needs.
In order to be eligible for the Global Talent Stream, a Canadian employer must fit one of two categories:
Category A – Designated Partner Referral:
To be eligible through this category, the Canadian employer must be referred by one of the GTS designated partner organizations, and be hiring unique and specialized talent. To find a referral, interested employers can consult the list of designated partners below and contact those most relevant to their industry.