Canada’s immigration and workforce attraction programs are leading the world, providing opportunity for global companies – and for families. As someone who has experienced those programs firsthand, I know the difference Canada’s approach can make, and the opportunities it provides for global companies looking to hire skilled talent.
In 2017, after living and setting down roots in the United States for 7 years, my wife and I decided to move to Canada with our two young boys. The decision to move countries is always a difficult one. Neither of us are American citizens and our move was motivated by the uncertainty of our status in the country. After completing an MBA at a prominent American university and securing a job offer, I thought staying in the US would be straightforward. That turned out not to be the case.
Like thousands of families just like ours, the road we faced if we chose to stay in the US and try to secure visas was long and unpredictable, with no guarantee of a positive outcome. That uncertainty was a challenge for our family, just as it was for my employer.
To grow and seize opportunities, global companies need the ability to hire quality talent with the proper skills, in a timely manner. Companies also seek clarity through a straightforward and predictable process. Families like mine are looking for career opportunities and to build a better future. The opportunity we saw was in a country that we have always admired – Canada. Like many highly skilled workers from around the world, we were attracted to the country for many reasons, including quality of life, openness, diversity and inclusivity.
Canadian immigration welcomes global talent
There is a good reason why Canada is able to attract over 300,000 highly skilled immigrants every year and has become a magnet for international students with over 640,000 enrolled by 2019 (3rd globally). It is because Canada has one of the best immigration systems in the world and is geared toward highly educated and highly skilled workers.
Canada’s Global Skills Strategy and Express Entry Program
Our family directly secured permanent residency through the Express Entry program, a simple and straightforward online process that took only six months. Canada also offers immigration programs specifically curated for companies looking to hire talent. Through the Global Skills Strategy, which was established in 2017, companies have fast and predictable access to find and hire talent from around the world. Companies can apply to receive work permits for eligible workers, with processing times of under two weeks.
The Global Talent Stream, which is part of the Global Skills Strategy, allows companies to hire specialized and unique workers, or workers listed on the Global Talent Stream National Occupations List. Employers and research institutions who need researchers on a short-term basis can receive work permit exemptions to fast-track hiring. On top of that, eligible employers can receive assistance from a dedicated account manager who provides guidance and helps meet their exact talent needs. With an approval rate of over 90% on work permits, over 40,000 skilled workers have come to Canada through the Global Skills Strategy in 2017-2019.
As Canada’s national investment promotion agency, Invest in Canada is a designated referrer to the Global Skills Strategy and Global Talent Steam. This means we can work directly with global companies to help identify the right program, match them with an account manager and begin addressing their talent issues.
Canada’s advantage for business
Canada’s immigration and citizenship programs are only a few pieces of the puzzle. Both investors and global talent recognize the advantages that Canada offers. According to CBRE, Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary are among the top 25 tech talent markets in North America. In 2019, Toronto added more tech jobs than the San Francisco Bay Area and over 5 years, Vancouver has had the highest percentage change in total tech jobs in all of North America.
The ability to bring talent to Canada through a simple, streamlined process is just one of the many advantages that Canada offers global investors. It is this, combined with competitive incentives, a low-cost business environment, excellent academic institutions and much more that drives more and more investors to Canada every year.
While our family admired Canada, we did not always understand how those values of openness and inclusivity would apply to talent who are looking to call the country home. My personal experience demonstrated how fast and predictable that process could be. By working with global companies at Invest in Canada, I have also seen first-hand how that process works for them, and how government can operate at the speed of business, removing obstacles and helping facilitate growth. I look forward to helping more companies and by extension, more families just like mine, to come to Canada and set down roots.
If you're a foreign worker looking to immigrate to Canada, visit Immigration Canada to determine your eligibility.