To help address labor shortages in the tech sector, the Council of Canadian Innovators is calling on the federal government to pilot a new visa that would allow high-skilled tech workers to come to Canada without a job offer.
The CCI recently released its Talent and Skills Strategy, which includes 13 key policy recommendations to help policymakers support Canada’s burgeoning tech sector.
The High Potential Tech Visa, as proposed, would target in-demand professions such as software developers and data scientists. It would allow holders to work, change employment, and apply for permanent residency in Canada.
CCI noted in its report, The Talent and Skills Strategy, that most people seeking work visas in Canada must have a job offer in order to qualify. This requirement puts a stumbling block in the way of highly skilled workers who wish to work in Canada. The report says if software developers, data scientists, and other professionals working in in-demand occupations were allowed to enter Canada to gain employment they would likely find it.
Furthermore, the epidemic has increased the use of remote work. As a result, CCI says the Canadian government should consult with the private sector to pilot allowing foreign skilled workers to come to Canada for a designated amount of time without a job offer.
This proposal is loosely based on a programme being proposed in the UK, which would allow software developers, engineers, or data scientists to enter the country without a job offer.
The proposed tech visa would be in addition to the existing Global Skills Strategy, which aims to process work permit applications for in-demand jobs in as little as two weeks. The CCI, on the other hand, proposes a visa processing period of 48 hours for this scheme.
“By creating an avenue for skilled tech workers to come to Canada on their own initiative, the government can increase the available supply of skilled workers who could be hired by Canadian companies, without forcing firms to proactively undertake the time-consuming and bureaucratic process involved in sponsoring a potential foreign worker,” the report says.
The CCI also wants the government to offer a concierge service to help companies navigate the immigration system, and thereby ease the pathway to permanent residency through the Global Talent Stream—a work permit programme that operates under the Global Skills Strategy and is available to certain employers and select in-demand tech occupations.
Some of the CCI’s other recommendations relating to talent acquisition included launching a Digital Nomad Strategy to make Canada a destination for more remote workers, and reviewing the National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes more regularly to better reflect the shifting nature of technology jobs in Canada. They also want Canada to recognized alternative and foreign qualifications for Canadian visa applicants.
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