Working in the U.S. as a foreign professional is full of uncertainty. Will you get the H1B visa or not? If you do, will you be stuck in a green card backlog for decades? When can your spouse work?

Canada recognized these shortcomings and strengthened its own immigration programs to attract skilled foreign workers, especially tech talent. First, it launched the Global Talent Stream Program to expedite access to tech talent from anywhere in the world. An approved work permit in 2 weeks? Yes please!

In 2023, eligible H1B visa holders were offered open work permits in Canada (valid for 3 years). Within 48 hours of launching, 10,000 open work permits maxed out. With these permits, these individuals could work for practically any employer in Canada.

Let’s not forget the Express Entry Program, Canada’s largest immigration program targeting skilled workers.

Whether you are in the U.S. or abroad, if your skill set is in high demand (especially STEM fields), Canada’s immigration programs are worth exploring.

Working in Canada

Canada Open Work Permit for H1B

Starting 2023, eligible H1B visa holders were allowed to apply for 3 year open work permits in Canada.

Global Talent Stream Program

The global talent stream program allows Canadian employers to hire skilled foreign workers in high demand occupations faster.

Express Entry Program

The Express Entry Program allows qualified skilled workers to immigrate to Canada permanently. It is a points based system that factors in your skills, experience and more.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Like Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program is an immigration program for skilled workers looking to immigrate to Canada. Individuals are nominated based on the specific needs of Canadian provinces.

Moving to Canada from the U.S.

Canada has a large number of immigration programs. Depending on your current status in the U.S. (H1B, U.S. citizen, etc.) and your skillset, you may be eligible for more than one immigration pathway.

Global Talent Stream Program

The Global Talent Stream Program was created to speed up the hiring process for skilled workers. By shortening the immigration processing time to just two weeks, Canadian employers are able to bring foreign talent in quickly. The program does have salary and occupation requirements that must be met.

Companies like Syndesus use the Global Talent Stream Program to relocate immigrant tech workers from the U.S. to Canada, where they continue working remotely for their U.S. employers. This is a workaround for many U.S. employers whose employees aren’t selected in the H-1B visa lottery and do not have offices abroad.

Express Entry Program

The Express Entry Program is a points based immigration system which scores applicants on their work experience, education and skills. Candidates with the highest number of points (known as your CRS score) are invited to apply for permanent residency. Permanent residence allows you to live and work in Canada on a permanent basis.

Who is the Canadian government looking to attract through this program? People with a university education, skilled work experience and at least moderate proficiency in English and/or French. While there is no one ideal profile, you will score better if you have a Master’s degree, have at least several years of work experience and high language proficiency.

The basic criteria to apply for Express Entry are as follows:

  • You are between the ages of 18 and 64
  • You have at least one year of work experience in the past decade
  • You meet the language requirements
  • You have sufficient funds to support yourself (and your family)

Applicants create an online Express Entry profile which requires many documents. Once you create a profile, you will receive a score and join the candidate group. Your profile stays active for 12 months. Every 2-3 weeks, there is an Express Entry draw and top candidates are invited to apply for permanent residence.

Canada Open Work Permit

In 2023, the Canadian government announced it would allow H-1B visa holders to apply for a 3 year open work permit for Canada. Their goal: to attract top talent frustrated with the U.S. immigration system.

The open permit would allow H-1B visa holders to work for virtually any employer in Canada. They set aside 10,000 open work permit slots and maxed out within 48 hours of accepting applications. If you missed this, there are other pathways to Canada (from the U.S. and elsewhere) worth exploring.