Work Permit Options for IT Workers
There are many different work permit options for individuals working in the IT fields, many of which are fast-tracked.
Global Talent Stream
Under the Global Talent Stream, Canadian employers looking to hire certain IT professionals may qualify for an expedited and facilitated Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Examples of qualifying occupations are Software Engineers and Designers, Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers, Information Systems Analysts and Consultants, and Computer and Information Systems Managers.
When applying through the Global Talent Stream, employers are eligible for two-week processing of their LMIA. After the LMIA has been approved, foreign workers are also eligible for two-week processing of their work permit application.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), there is a list of approximately 60 occupations that qualify for a facilitated work permit called the NAFTA Professional work permit. There are two occupations relating to the IT field on the list of eligible occupations: Computer Systems Analyst and Graphic Designer.
This work permit is facilitated in that the Canadian employer is not obligated to obtain a LMIA prior to the American or Mexican Citizen applying for their work permit. Given that no LMIA is required, an employer can bring a foreign worker to Canada in less time.
Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) is another work permit option that is facilitated in the same manner as the NAFTA Professional work permit, in that is that there is no LMIA required. To be eligible for the ICT work permit, the worker must have been employed with the company abroad for at least one year and there must be a qualifying relationship between the two companies (subsidiary, affiliate, parent, or branch).
Unlike NAFTA and Global Talent Stream, there is no exhaustive list of eligible occupations for intra-company transferees. Rather, there are three different categories under which a worker may qualify. The first two are managerial type positions that do not typically apply in the IT context. However, the third category is for workers who have “specialized and proprietary knowledge of the company or its products” and this is typically how IT workers utilize the ICT work permit.
As companies are constantly innovating and experimenting with new techniques to provide a wider array of products, employees can be trained and experienced in a very specific manner and in very specific domains. This could make it difficult to hire even the most qualified of Canadian IT professionals and in such cases, it would be necessary to transfer someone from abroad who is intimately familiar with the company’s proprietary systems and products. This can include, but is not limited to, Programmers and Developers who have designed a company’s software products or Computer Engineers who have designed specific programs for the company’s internal use.