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I missed the open work permit application window for H1-B holders from Canada. What are my options?

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Posted on Jul 21, 2023 at 09:00 am EDT


On July 16, Canada introduced a new Open Work Permit (OWP) for H-1B visa holders as part of Canada’s new technology talent strategy.

The OWP gives candidates in specialty occupations the ability to work for almost any employer in Canada, is valid for up to three years, and holders can bring immediate family members to Canada with them.

It turned out to be an extremely popular option and the 10,000 application limit was reached in two days, leaving some wondering what other options are available for H-1B holders to immigrate to Canada.

Schedule a free consultation about your work permit with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

There are still several ways for an H-1B visa holder to potentially enter Canada, many of which do not require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA is a document that Canadian businesses or employers must submit to demonstrate that they will not negatively impact (or at least neutrally impact) the Canadian economy or workforce by hiring foreign nationals.

Here is an overview of some prominent temporary worker routes to Canada for H-1B visa holders.

Global talent stream

Canada’s Global Talent Stream (GTS) is a popular choice for foreign nationals working in the IT sector, making them eligible under the definition of “specialty occupation” for an H-1B visa holder. Employers wishing to hire using this program must submit an LMIA.

There are two categories in this stream.

The first, Category A, is for expanding companies that can demonstrate the need to hire specialized talent from abroad. These companies must be referred to the Global Talent Stream by a designated referral partner, which is typically a local or provincial business association.

Category B is for companies that need to hire certain skilled foreign workers for any of the occupations on the Global Talent Occupations List. These occupations are considered to be in demand with an insufficient supply of domestic work.

Candidates who have applied under the GTS can expect their application to be processed within two weeks in accordance with the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processing standard.

Intra-company transfers

Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) work permits are another type of specialized work permit that does not require employers to obtain an LMIA. It is oriented to companies with branches in multiple countries to facilitate the movement of employees.

It works for employers in two circumstances.

  • Companies outside and within Canada have a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate relationship.
  • The two companies are doing business. This means that they are providing goods and services on an ongoing basis. The business must be operating in Canada; they cannot simply have a physical location in Canada.

If an employee wishes to obtain an TIC Work Permit, they must be:

  • Currently employed by a multinational company and seeking to enter Canada to work for a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate company of that company.
  • Transfer to a company that has a qualifying relationship with the company with which they are currently employed and who will work in a legitimate and continuing establishment of the company in Canada.
  • Have been continuously employed (through payroll or contract) by the company planning to transfer them to Canada in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the three-year period immediately preceding the date of the initial application.
  • Coming to Canada for a temporary period only.
  • meet all Canadian immigration requirements for temporary entry

Also, you must be a senior or executive manager, functional manager, or have specialized knowledge.

CUSMA

The Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is an option for Mexican citizens who are employees of multinational companies with a branch in Canada. Like the Global Talent Stream and intra-company transfers, this work permit does not require an LMIA.

In addition, US and Mexican citizens do not require a temporary resident visa to enter Canada, so applications for a CUSMA work permit can be made at a port of entry (such as a border crossing or airport) or at a visa office, either online or on paper.

CUSMA participants are divided into four temporary work categories:

Professionals must work in one of approximately 60 specific professions and have pre-arranged employment in Canada. Self-employed professionals are not eligible.

CUSMA ICTs are issued to employees who are in Canada temporarily to work for a branch of their US or Mexican employer. They are only eligible if they have worked continuously for their employer for at least one of the last three years in a role similar to work performed in Canada.

CUSMA Traders is an option for those who can demonstrate that they intend to conduct 50% of their trade in goods or services between Canada and their country of citizenship. This can be based on volume or value traded.

NAFTA investors must demonstrate that they have made a significant investment in a new or existing Canadian company. They must demonstrate that they seek to enter Canada to develop and run the Canadian business.

business visitors

A foreign national can enter Canada on business without an LMIA for a number of reasons, such as attending business meetings, purchasing Canadian products, providing after-sales service, receiving training from a Canadian parent company, or training other employees.

To be eligible, business visitors must show that they

  • plan to stay less than six months,
  • do not plan to enter the Canadian labor market,
  • the principal place of business and source of income and profit is outside of Canada,
  • they have documents that support their request and
  • meet the basic requirements for entry to Canada

Schedule a free consultation about your work permit with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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