The H-1B visa is a US working visa which allows US employers to hire foreign workers in certain specialty occupations for which they are qualified. This is a type of work permit widely utilized by foreign IT professionals, as many of the specialty occupations commonly associated with the H-1B are related to the IT field.

While providing a promising avenue through which skilled foreign nationals can come work in the United States, the H-1B program is currently plagued with issues, making the US a less viable option for foreign workers. The rate of refusals for H-1B applications has never been higher. The America-first policies of the Trump administration have heavily benefitted American workers, to the corresponding detriment of their foreign counterparts. The time limitation on H-1B visas is also a frequent problem; these types of visas can be granted for three years and then can be extended for three additional years, after which point the foreign national must remain outside of the U.S. for at least one full year.

Given these and other problems frequently encountered with H-1B visas, many foreign nationals are turning their sights to Canada in terms of their next employment opportunity. Canada offers several options with respect to work authorization that either have similar eligibility criteria to the H1-B visas, or that present the possibility of the foreign national continuing their career in North America:

Global Talent Stream: This is a facilitated work permit option that targets foreign nationals working in the IT sector. Many of the occupations eligible for this work permit constitute “specialty occupation” as defined in the H-1B program, making the transition to a Canadian work permit easier;

Intra-Company Transfer: Many of the foreign national on H-1B visas work for multinational companies that have a presence in Canada. Certain categories of workers on H-1B visas can be eligible for a facilitated Canadian work permit through an Intra-Company Transfer;

Intra-Company Transfer Start Up: Foreign nationals working for U.S. companies looking to establish a presence in Canada can be eligible for facilitated work permits that will allow them to work in Canada in order to begin operations of a Canadian branch, subsidiary, or affiliate;

NAFTA: Mexican citizens on an H-1B visa in Canada can be eligible for a facilitated work permit through the North American Free Trade Agreement if they are qualified to work in a given occupation and are coming to working Canada in this capacity. A complete list of eligible occupations can be found here;

Business Visitor: H-1B visa holders needing to come to Canada for work-related reasons can qualify as business visitors in certain scenarios and are therefore exempt from the requirement for a work permit.

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