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Indians can benefit from Canada's new work permit for H-1B US visa holders and their families

Canada announced a new 'Tech Talent Strategy', which will enable an open work permit stream for H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US. Indians form the largest cohort of H-1B visa holders, and under this scheme, they can apply for a Canadian work permit, and study or work permit options for their accompanying family members

Pankti Mehta Kadakia
Published: Jun 28, 2023 12:21:37 PM IST
Updated: Apr 18, 2024 12:48:51 PM IST

Canada will create an open work permit stream for US H-1B visa holders, who will be eligible to apply for a Canadian work permit.
Image: ShutterstockCanada will create an open work permit stream for US H-1B visa holders, who will be eligible to apply for a Canadian work permit. Image: Shutterstock
The government of Canada is looking to recruit global tech talent, hoping to attract skills and business talent that will ‘create the jobs of tomorrow’.
Sean Fraser, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship (IRCC) launched the country’s first-ever Tech Talent Strategy on Tuesday, outlining ‘aggressive attraction measures’.
As part of the strategy, Canada will create an open work permit stream for US H-1B visa holders, who will be eligible to apply for a Canadian work permit. Moreover, their family members will be able to apply for work and study permits options. This option will be available as early as July 16 and will remain open for a year, or until they receive 10,000 applications.
Approved applicants will receive an open work permit for a three-year duration, during which they can work “for almost any employer anywhere in Canada”, the government website says.
Typically, the US H-1B visa is issued for three years at a time, as it is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to hire skilled professionals from overseas. Top tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others, use the H-1B for technical positions. Every year, Indians form the largest cohort of H-1B holders. In 2021, for instance, Indians were issued 74.1 percent of the total 301,616 H-1B visas issued in the year. In 2022, Indians made up nearly 73 percent of the total 4.42 lakh H-1B visa workers.
Last week, the US announced that the H-1B could be renewed from within the country itself, and holders would not have to be inconvenienced by being asked to travel to their home countries for renewals.           
Canada is also looking to promote itself as a destination for digital nomads, defined as people “who can perform their job remotely from anywhere in the world”. Currently, digital nomads can relocate to Canada for up to six months at a time, when working for a foreign employer, remotely. 

Also read: US eases H-1B visa restrictions during Modi's visit: What you need to know

The IRCC hopes to collaborate with public and private partners in the coming months to determine whether additional policies will help better attract digital nomads. They expect that a proportion of such entrants will eventually seek employment with Canadian firms, bringing skills to the country by temporary or permanent residence.
Moreover, Canada will create a STEM-specific category under the Express Entry programme, and also relax criteria for their Start-Up visa.
“We’re enthusiastic about the ambitious goals we have set in immigration, because they aren’t just about numbers—they are strategic,” said Fraser. “With Canada’s first-ever immigration Tech Talent Strategy, we’re targeting newcomers that can help enshrine Canada as a world leader in a variety of emerging technologies. I’m grateful for the collaboration of the tech, startup and business communities, who have provided valuable insight to develop this strategy.”
According to IRCC data, Indian immigration to Canada tripled between 2013 and 2023, from 32,828 in 2013 to 118,095 in 2022. In 2022, 118,095 Indians immigrated into Canada—the next largest source was China, with a far-second of 31,815 immigrants.