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With so many opportunities now and on the horizon, Canada has launched the Tech Talent Strategy to help tech workers move to Canada.

STEM is among Canada’s high-growth industries, yet labour shortages are persistent in key occupations. So, in order to support the upward momentum of the tech sector, Canada launched the Tech Talent Strategy in June 2023. It includes six broad measures to attract and retain tech workers from abroad.

Whether you are looking to come to Canada permanently, or just to work and see what living here is like, Canada has made it easier for tech talent to work in the country. These are some of the initiatives under the Tech Talent Strategy that open pathways for STEM professionals.

Express Entry: STEM-Specific Draws

If you want to move to Canada permanently, you may wish to look at Express Entry as a possible option for you.

Express Entry is one of the main immigration pathways for skilled workers, such as those who work in STEM.

If you already know what Express Entry is you can skip ahead to the bolded text below, but if you don’t then you should know that Express Entry is an online system that manages Canada’s immigration application through three skilled worker programs as well as some of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Of the three Express Entry-managed programs, STEM workers are typically eligible for two: the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW). While both have their unique eligibility criteria, the main difference is the CEC requires Canadian work experience whereas the FSW requires one year of skilled work experience regardless of location.

If you are eligible for either of these programs, you get placed in the Express Entry pool of candidates and you get a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Points on the CRS are based on factors like your age, work experience, education, official language ability, and more. The rule of thumb is the higher your score, the more likely you are to be invited to apply for Canadian immigration.

Yep, you read that right. You don’t just apply for Canadian immigration through Express Entry. You fill out an Express Entry profile and Canada invites you to apply.

Getting an invitation is a matter of having your profile in the system and waiting to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in an Express Entry draw. Canada’s immigration department, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), holds draws roughly every two weeks. IRCC either sends out a certain number of ITAs to the top-scoring candidates, or invites candidates who may be eligible through category-based Express Entry draws.
So, you know what Express Entry is and you’re ready to read on. As of 2023, STEM is one of the categories in Canada’s category-based Express Entry draws. In addition to regular rounds of invitation, STEM workers who are eligible for Express Entry may be invited to apply through STEM-specific draws. In order to be eligible for an invitation as a STEM worker, you need to have at least six months worth of continuous work experience in an eligible STEM occupation, completed within the past three years.
The following table shows which STEM occupations are eligible for STEM-specific Express Entry draws:

Occupation2021 NOC codeTEER category
Architecture and science managers200110
Business systems specialists212211
Civil Engineers213001
Computer and information systems managers200120
Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)213111
Computer systems developers and programmers212301
Cybersecurity specialists212201
Data scientists212111
Database analysts and data administrators212231
Electrical and electronics engineers213101
Engineering managers200100
Industrial and manufacturing engineers213211
Information systems specialists212221
Land surveyors212031
Landscape Architects212011
Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries212101
Metallurgical and materials engineers213221
Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers414001
Software developers and programmers212321
Software engineers and designers212311
Urban and land use planners212021
Web designers212331
Web developers and programmers212341

If you are considering Express Entry as your pathway to Canada, check your eligibility by taking Moving2Canada’s Canadian Immigration Quiz. Your results will help you determine whether you’re eligible for Express Entry, as well as other economic immigration programs.

Or, you can see what your CRS score may be and see which Express Entry-managed programs you may be eligible for by checking out our Express Entry CRS Calculator.

And if you want to be updated every time there’s an Express Entry draw, take advantage of all Moving2Canada has to offer by signing up for a free Moving2Canada account. You’ll get access to exclusive offers, a personalized checklist, and content that will help you on your immigration journey.

Innovation Stream work permits

The Innovation Stream is a new work permit program coming later in 2023. It will allow tech professionals to work in Canada temporarily. The experience you gain with this work permit may help you become eligible for more Canadian immigration programs, such as those managed by Express Entry or the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

More details on the Innovation Stream are yet to be released but here’s what we know for now.

The Innovation Stream falls under Canada’s International Mobility Program (IMP)—which means Canadian employers can skip the time-consuming step of doing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to hire a foreign worker.

It includes two new work permits:

  1. An open work permit that allows workers in eligible tech occupations to work anywhere in Canada for up to five years.
  2. An employer-specific work permit that allows tech professionals to work for certain government-approved companies for up to five years.

These new work permits were specifically created to address labour shortages in Canada’s tech sector. The government will be coming out with more details on eligibility and how to apply later in 2023.

Work permits for H-1B visa holders

On July 16, 2023, Canada is offered international tech talent in the US the opportunity to continue working north of the border. This temporary program was created to be open for one year or until Canada received 10,000 applications. The cap was reached less than 48 hours after it opened on July 17

This new program will let eligible H-1B Specialty Occupations visa holders to work for almost any Canadian company for three years, and bring their immediate family to Canada with them.

Global Skills Strategy

The Global Skills Strategy is a work permit program that allows employers to hire skilled foreign workers more quickly. Employers get to skip the LMIA process, and workers get faster application processing and enhanced customer service.

Although the pandemic caused delays to the program, Canada has returned to its two-week processing standard for complete applications.

Digital Nomads

Are you thinking about working remotely from Canada?

Well, you can! And you don’t need a work permit as long as you are staying for less than six months.

In order to come to Canada as a digital nomad, you just need to complete the travel authorization process for your country, the same as if you were coming as a tourist or visitor. Depending on where you’re from, that could mean getting a visitor visa, or completing an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Start-up Visa

Canada is improving the Start-up Visa program for those who want to start an innovative business in the country.

The Start-up Visa offers a pathway to permanent residence for foreign entrepreneurs. Canada is working to cut wait times by tripling its annual target to 3,500 people in 2023, prioritizing applications from start-ups with committed capital, and inviting all start-up members to apply for an open work permit of up to three years.

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About the author

Rebecca Major profile picture
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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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