Canada: New Temporary Foreign Worker Pilot Program – Global Talent Stream

Last Updated: July 26 2017
Article by Rita R. Tripathy

Introduction

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has now launched a new pilot program called the Global Talent Stream (GTS) which will run for an initial period of two years and will significantly reduce processing times for certain Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) and the issuance of Work Permits. In addition, the GTS will offer flexible recruitment requirements. With some of the current concerns with US immigration, Canada may be able to attract talent that would normally be destined to the US. As explained by The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship:

Employers that are making plans for job-creating investments in Canada will often need an experienced leader, dynamic researcher or an innovator with unique skills not readily available in Canada to make that investment happen. The Global Skills Strategy aims to give those employers confidence that when they need to hire from abroad, they'll have faster, more reliable access to top talent.1

Program Goals

One goal of the program is to provide easier and faster processing of visa and work permit applications for foreign nationals who possess unique global talent and/or who are highly skilled. The program also aims to provide high-growth Canadian companies with quick and easy access to unique global talent and/or highly skilled foreign nationals for certain in demand occupations which will assist Canadian companies in succeeding in the global marketplace. Another goal of GTS is to create new jobs and assist in transferring specialized knowledge to Canadians and permanent residents. The target of the new program is to have the applications assessed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) within 10 business days and allowing the work permit applications for the qualified individuals to be processed within 14 business days for high-growth firms and for unique highly specialized and skilled workers which will result in job creation and knowledge transfer. The two week work permit processing will be available to workers applying from overseas whose employers have been approved to hire a foreign worker through the GTS and will also apply to NOC 0 (executive, managerial) and NOC A (professional) applying through the International Mobility Program. The program is aiming to attract low-risk, highly-skilled foreign nationals.

This new program recognizes that attracting talent is critical to economic growth, and that employers have been facing barriers to accessing this talent.

The government goal is to help attract foreign investment through a dedicated immigration service.

The Categories in the Program

The GTS pilot will target two categories of Canadian companies. There is the Unique and Specialized Talent for Category A of the Global Talent Stream, and the Global Talent Occupations List for Category B:

  • Category A includes: High-growth firms that can demonstrate a need for unique talent in order to scale-up and grow, resulting in job creation and knowledge transfer to Canadians; and
  • Category B includes: Firms needing to hire highly-skilled foreign nationals for occupations found on a new "Skills Shortage List", resulting in training investments for Canadian workers.

An employer may be eligible for Category A of the GTS if the employer has been referred to the GTS by ESDC's designated partners and the employer is hiring unique and specialized talent. Agreements have been reached with a range of partners who will be able to refer companies to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC) new dedicated service channel and to ESDC's Global Talent Stream. We understand that this current list will be continually updated and that discussions are continuing with many other potential partners. The goal is to have referral partners in all parts of the country with the significant knowledge and insight needed to refer companies to the dedicated service channel.

For Category A of the Global Talent Stream, innovative firms must be seeking to hire unique and specialized talent. Unique and specialized talent is indicated by:

  • Advanced knowledge of the industry;
  • Advanced degree in an area of specialization of interest to the employer; AND/OR
  • Minimum of five years of experience in the field of specialized experience; AND
  • A highly paid position with a salary generally in the range of $80,000 or more.

For Category B of the Global Talent Stream, employers must be seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions from a national global talent list identifying demand occupations which will be considered under the GTS. We expect this list to be updated and more occupations added to the list. This list currently includes the following occupations:

National
Classification (NOC)
Occupation
0213 Computer and information systems managers
2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)
2171 Information systems analysts and consultants
2172 Database analysts and data administrators
2173 Software engineers and designers
2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers
2175 Web designers and developers
2241 Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians (minimum wage $81,000 per year or $38.94 per hour)
2283 Information systems testing technicians (minimum wage $78,000 per year or $37.50 per hour)
Sub-set of 5241 Digital Media and Design (minimum wage $80,000 per year or $38.46 per hour and other requirements)

Program Requirements

The employers must demonstrate that the employer is actively engaged in the business where the temporary foreign worker will be employed. Documentation will have to be provided by the employer to show the employer has an operating and functioning business providing a good or service related to the job offer. Examples of documentation include a business licence, business incorporation documents, CRA documents or a lawyer attestation.

Similar to a regular LMIA, there is a $1,000 processing fee for each position requested.

The employer is required to work with ESDC to develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan that demonstrates the employer's commitment to activities that will have lasting, positive impacts on the Canadian labour market. One of the goals of the Labour Market Benefits Plan is to help the Government of Canada identify and track overall job creation, skills and training investments, which must benefit the Canadian economy through employment of high-skilled global talent.

Commitments within the Labour Market Benefits Plan are divided into mandatory and complementary benefits.

If the employer has been referred by one of the Global Talent Stream's designated partners and the employer is seeking to hire unique and specialized talent (Category A), the employer must commit to creating jobs, either directly or indirectly for Canadians and permanent residents as the mandatory benefit.

If the Canadian employer is seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations on the Global Talent Occupations List (Category B), the employer must commit to increasing skills and training investments for Canadians and permanent residents as the mandatory benefit.

Complementary benefits, could include, but are not limited to, job creation, investment in skills and training, transferring knowledge to Canadians and permanent residents, enhanced company performance and implementing best practices or policies as an employer for the employer's workforce.

Unlike a regular LMIA there is no minimum recruitment requirement for the Global Talent Stream, however the employer is encouraged to recruit Canadians and permanent residents before offering a job to a temporary foreign worker. The employer will be asked, as part of their application to describe any recruitment efforts conducted, so it is recommended that the employer advertise.

Wages offered to temporary foreign workers should be similar to wages paid to Canadian and permanent resident employees hired for the same job and work location, and with similar skills and years of experience.

The requirement for the employer to pay the prevailing wage is defined as the highest of either:

  • the median wage on Job Bank,
  • the wage that is within the wage range that you are paying your current employees hired for the same job and work location, and with the same skills and years of experience, or
  • the applicable wage floor as identified in the Global Talent Occupations List.

Also important in the program is that work permit exemptions will be granted for short duration, high value work as well as to provide similar facilitative measures for brief academic stays of 120 days or less. This will cover highly-skilled workers who need to come to Canada for a very short-term assignment and researchers taking part in short-duration research projects being conducted in Canada will not require a work permit. The new work permit exemption for highly-skilled workers applies to all NOC 0 and NOC A workers. Eligible workers will be allowed one 15-day work permit-exempt stay in Canada every six months, or one 30-day work permit-exempt stay every 12 months.

Researchers coming to Canada will be permitted one 120-day stay every 12 months without requiring a work permit when they are working on a research project at a publicly-funded degree-granting institution or affiliated research institution.

In closing, we refer to a description of the program by The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour who had this to say2:

When companies are able to grow and thrive here in Canada, they create good, middleclass jobs for Canadians; our new Global Talent Stream will give companies a faster and more efficient process to bring in global talent, so they can grow and expand their Canadian workforces. We're keeping Canada competitive in the global marketplace and helping our industries grow and succeed.

Footnote

1. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigrationrefugeescitizenship/news/2017/06/government_of_canadalaunche stheglobalskillsstrategy.html

2. https://www.canada.ca/en/innovationscienceeconomicdevelopment/news/2017/03/ministers_bains_andhajduannouncecanadasglobalskillsstrategy.html

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