Canada: Global Skills Strategy Update: Expansion Of The GTS Occupations List

The Global Skills Strategy (GSS) is a pilot project launched by IRCC in June 2017. The program is designed to give Canadian employers quicker access to highly qualified global talent. Changes were recently announced to one part of the GSS, as outlined below. Employers using the program should be aware of these changes.

The Global Skills Strategy ("GSS") is a pilot project launched by IRCC in June 2017. The program is designed to give Canadian employers quicker access to highly qualified global talent. Changes were recently announced to one part of the GSS, as outlined below. Employers using the program should be aware of these changes.

Overview of the GSS

The GSS facilitates the entry of high skilled foreign workers into Canada through a GSS stream under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), expedited processing of employer specific LMIA-exempt work permit applications, and several work permit exemptions.

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) under the TFWP, managed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), prioritizes Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications. ESDC targets GTS LMIAs to be processed within ten (10) business days. Most such applications are issued pursuant to an Occupations List which sets out eligible occupations/NOCs (see this link: GTS Occupations List).

The GSS has had the largest impact on the processing of work permit applications from outside of Canada. The GSS established 2 week processing of work permits, provided that the application is complete, has been filed online, and falls within one of the following categories:

  • The foreign worker is applying for an employer-specific LMIA-exempt work permit under Canada's International Mobility Program, for a NOC skill level 0 or A occupation; or
  • The foreign worker is submitting a GTS LMIA-based work permit application pursuant to an LMIA approved under the Global Talent Stream.

The two-week processing is much faster than the regular processing times of many visa offices.

The GSS regime also allows some high skilled foreign workers to enter Canada for a time-limited, non-renewable duration to conduct work under a special work permit exemption, provided they are able to demonstrate that they qualify under one of the following situations:

  • Eligible high-skilled workers employed in NOC skill level 0 or A occupations are able to enter Canada once for a maximum period of fifteen (15) consecutive calendar days within a six (6) month period, OR once for a maximum period of thirty (30) consecutive calendar days within a twelve (12) month period; or
  • Researchers coming to Canada to perform project-based research at a publicly funded degree-granting institution or affiliated research institution are able to enter Canada once for a maximum period of 120 days every twelve (12) months.

Changes to the GTS Occupation List

As the GSS marked its one-year anniversary on June 12, 2018, the Government of Canada announced amendments to the Global Talent Stream's Occupations List.

  1. Three (3) new occupations have been added:

NOC 0211 - Engineering Managers*

NOC 0212 - Architecture and Science Managers

NOC 2161 - Mathematicians and Statisticians

*Note: NOC 0211 is on Alberta's Refuse to Process List. As a result, applications from employers for positions in this occupation for work to be conducted in Alberta will not be processed as long as it remains on the list.

  1. One (1) occupation has been removed:

NOC 2241 - Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technologists and Technicians

  1. Two (2) occupations have been amended:

NOC 5131 - Producer, Technical, Creative and Artistic Director, and Project Manager in the visual effects and videogame fields - senior coordinator and department manager have been added to job title list, and managing budgets or teams has been added as skill sets;

NOC 5241 - Digital Media Designers - The following skill sets have been added: compositing, paint and roto, layout and match move, digital environment and matte painting, texture, lighting shading, character effects, effects and simulations, design and scenario, rigging, user interface or user experience, responsive design (for gaming).


Looking back over the first year of the GSS program, it has been working well and has been successful in helping Canadian companies to fill their labour and skills shortages by allowing them to bring in highly specialized foreign workers in a more efficient, timely and predictable manner.

The GSS will continue to be reviewed during the second year of the two-year pilot program. Further amendments may occur as labour market trends shift. Hopefully, the Global Talent Stream will become a permanent stream.

Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP's Immigration team will continue to monitor the GSS and its Global Talent Stream and provide updates on future changes and developments.

Further information on the GSS is available at this link: Information on GSS from IRCC Website

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