Canada: Global Skills Strategy Details Announced
The government of Canada has released the details of the Global Skills Strategy as part of its Innovation Agenda to facilitate the entry of skilled foreign national workers to meet important labour market needs. The Global Skills Strategy will introduce a streamlined Labour Market Impact Assessment route called the Global Talent Stream and short-term Work Permit rights without the need to obtain work authorization in specified situations as well as facilitate priority processing at Canadian diplomatic missions abroad. Starting June 12, 2017, the GSS pilot program will run for an initial period of two years.
The Canadian government has released the details of the Global Skills Strategy (GSS). This initiative aims to assist employers requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) as part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to facilitate a faster movement of skilled foreign national workers to Canada in certain situations. It will also allow the entry of skilled workers who would be able to work up to 30 days per year in Canada without the need for official work authorization and create a dedicated service for companies looking to make significant job-creating investments in Canada. Further, it will facilitate priority processing at Canadian diplomatic missions abroad. Starting June 12, 2017, the GSS pilot program will run for an initial period of two years. Background The Minister of Finance announced in the fall of 2016 that Canada would launch the GSS as part of the Innovation Agenda to facilitate the entry of skilled foreign national workers to meet important labour market needs. The central elements of the GSS are the streamlined LMIA route called the Global Talent Stream, short-term work rights without the need to obtain a Work Permit in specified situations and priority processing at diplomatic missions abroad. Global Talent Stream The streamlined LMIA route of the Global Talent Stream will differ from the standard LMIA routes in the following way:
- There will be no minimum advertising requirement;
- Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) must process LMIA applications in 10 business days;
- Instead of a "transition plan," the employer must provide a Labour Market Benefits Plan (LMBP) with ESDC explaining the benefits resulting from the recruitment of foreign nationals;
- It is still somewhat unclear how the commitment made by the employer in the LMBP will be monitored and enforced by the government authorities; and
- Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has committed to process applications under the Global Talent Stream in 10 business days.
Employers may qualify to submit this form of LMIA in one of two ways:
- Category A: Referral by a designated partner - innovative firms must be referred by one of ESDC's designated referral partners and be seeking to hire "unique and specialized talent."
- Category B: Employers may have access to this element of the Global Talent Stream by demonstrating that they are seeking to hire highly skilled foreign national workers to fill occupations on the Global Talent Occupations list.
Short-Term Work Permit Exemption
GSS will also introduce a Work Permit exemption for highly skilled individuals in National Occupation Codes (NOC) "0" and "A" who will be permitted to work in Canada without the requirement to obtain a Work Permit in one of two ways:
- Up to 15 consecutive calendar days, if six months have elapsed since the first day of work under the previous use of the exemption; or
- One period of up to 30 days per year, if 12 months have elapsed since the first day of work under the previous use of the exemption.
Applicants already in Canada cannot make an initial application for this exemption in country. Renewal applications are available only after meeting the respective waiting period.
Two-Week Processing for Global Skills Applications
Certain highly skilled individuals applying from outside of Canada will be eligible to apply for priority two-week processing if they submit their e-application on or after June 12, 2017, as follows:
- An application is submitted under the International Mobility Program (IMP) with an employer-specific job offer in the NOC "0" or "A"; or
- An application is submitted by a foreign national with an approved LMIA issued by ESDC under the Global Talent Stream (regardless of NOC).
To qualify for the two-week priority processing, applicants must submit a complete online application, including up-front medical certificates and a biometric fee (where required), and complete biometrics requirements within two weeks of the application.
The two-week priority processing will not apply for new or renewal Work Permit applications within Canada.
120-Day Work Permit Exemption for Researchers
Researchers are eligible for a Work Permit exemption for up to 120 consecutive calendar days. They must be engaged in mainly research activities at a publicly-funded, degree-granting institution at a university or college level, or an affiliated research institution with a letter from the receiving institution attesting that the work is primarily research and detailing the period of employment.
Renewal applications are available only after 12 months have elapsed since the first day of work under any earlier use of the exemption.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Faster processing times and a new short-term Work Permit exemption will benefit employers and foreign nationals as it would reduce administrative hurdles for foreign national workers in Canada.
Fragomen will provide updated information on the proposed programs as soon as it becomes available.
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.