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Missed the H-1B Work Permit Window? Here's the Latest Info!

If you missed the window to apply, you are probably wondering when they will open the program again. Here’s what we know about when it will open again.

Missed the H-1B Work Permit Window? Here's the Latest Info!

Canada’s Successful H-1B Open Work Permit Program

On June 27 2023, it was announced that Canada will accept 10,000 fast-track applications from H-1B workers from the United States for Canadian Open Work Permits. Less than one month later, the portal opened on July 16th and reached the 10,000 application quota in less than one day! Clearly the demand was overwhelming.

If you missed the window to apply, you are probably wondering when they will open the program again.

Before we discuss that question, let’s look at the Canadian immigration strategy and why they focused on H-1B workers.

I was at the Collision Conference in Toronto in June, and listened to the Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Honourable Sean Fraser, making a broad announcement regarding immigration strategy, including the H-1B program. The Minister described the new Open Work Permit as an “aggressive attraction measure” and a part of “Canada’s first ever Tech Talent Strategy” along with five other changes to its work visa and immigration programs.

Note: I will be commenting on the other 5 initiatives in a future blog, and unfortunately they are less well defined as the H-1B program. Follow us on our social media to get the latest insights.

What is Canada’s immigration strategy?

Canada’s immigration strategy is one meant to draw the best talents to Canada, as clearly defined in its mission statement.

The Open Work Permit program came after recent news on U.S. tech companies gaming the H-1B lottery system, which resulted in a crackdown by the U.S. government.

Canada responded quickly as this was an opportunity to bring in skilled professionals with uncertain U.S. immigration status to Canada.

Why attract H-1B workers to Canada?

H-1B workers are required to have a Bachelor’s or higher degree and work in an occupation that needs specialized and complex knowledge related to their degree. These workers are exactly what Canada wants too.

However, the process to get a H-1B work visa in the US is difficult, as it requires a lottery with a low success rate and sponsorship by a potential employer.

The Canada open work permit allows these highly-skilled, college-educated professionals to work for any company in Canada for the next three years. No sponsorship required.

Will Canada’s Open Work Permit program reopen?

This is not the first time that Canada has lured talent from the United States. In 2013, Canada launched the Start-up Visa (SUV) pilot program making it much easier for entrepreneurs to obtain permanent residence in Canada. According to IRCC, the goal was to bring talented entrepreneurs who “faced red tape challenges to securing their immigration status” to start their businesses in Canada.

The SUV pilot program has since become permanent. This year, Canada also increased their admission targets for the Start-up Visa, from 1,000 to 3,500 entrepreneurs per year.

The Open Work Permit for H-1B Workers was created under a similar directive, to aid innovation and attract highly-skilled workers. This strategy is not changing soon.

Considering the massive success of this initial H-1B pilot plus Canada’s needs to attract these high-skilled workers, it is believed that this program will reopen to more applicants in the future. How quickly is the big question, as IRCC already has large backlogs for many other visa types.

As the government completes the review of the initial 10,000 applications, we may expect to see some updates.

Follow us on our social media to stay updated on the reopening of the program.

Author: Joe Chen, Co-founder & RCIC

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