Immigration Minister Sean Fraser Unveils Canada’s New Tech Talent Strategy

Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser announced Canada’s first-ever ‘Tech Talent Strategy’ with six aggressive initiatives including a 3-year open work permit for startup visa applicants, faster processing times, STEM-specific Express Entry draws and open work permit for H-1B visa holders in the US. 

June 27, 2023, Toronto: Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced 6 new measures to help attract global talent to Canada to help drive economic growth and transform Canada into a global tech powerhouse. “We are living in an age of disruption, but that disruption creates extraordinary opportunities for anyone who is bold enough to seize the moment,” said Fraser.  The Tech Talent Strategy includes new measures and improvements on existing measures to help businesses in Canada thrive. Let’s look at the 6 strategies below.

1. Startup Visa Program Applicants To Get Open Work Permits for Up to 3 Years

The Startup Visa Program, designed to facilitate permanent residency for entrepreneurs who create companies and employ Canadians, will receive a boost. Minister Fraser acknowledged the challenges the program has faced due to overwhelming demand.

“The Startup Visa Program which creates a pathway to permanent residency for entrepreneurs who create companies that will hire Canadians has been suffering from certain challenges. This is a program with extraordinary potential. We’ve not been able to realize it simply because it was a flawed program design. We receive more applications than we have spaces available,” said Fraser.

To address this, the government will prioritize applications based on factors such as capital commitment and endorsements from trusted partners. Additionally, applicants and their families currently in the queue will be granted open work permits for three years, enabling them and their families to reside in Canada while their applications are processed.

Improvements to the Start-up Visa Program:

    • Increased application intake planned for 2024 and 2025.
    • Applicants will be able to apply for a work permit that is up to three years in duration instead of one year.
    • Applicants will be able to apply for an open work permit instead of one that limits them to working for their own start-up.
    • The three-year open work permit will be available to each member of the entrepreneurial team instead of only those who are essential and urgently needed in Canada.
    • We’re prioritizing applications that are supported by venture capital, angel investor groups and business incubators and have capital committed, along with applications that are supported by business incubators who are members of Canada’s Tech Network.

2. Two Week Work Permit Processing Time Under Global Skills Strategy

To ensure that companies can access talent promptly, the Global Skills Strategy program will undergo a significant transformation. Minister Fraser revealed that work permit processing times will be dramatically reduced to just two weeks.

“A new application that comes in today, we expect we can process that work permit in just two weeks. So companies can have access to the talent that they need when they need it,” announced Fraser.

This streamlined approach will empower businesses with the agility they need to harness the skills of international professionals quickly.

3. STEM Specific Draws Under Canada’s Express Entry Program

Recognizing the critical role of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) sectors, Minister Fraser unveiled a new and dedicated pathway for permanent residency. This initiative will include the creation of a STEM-specific draw under category-based selection to issue additional invitations to apply under the Express Entry program. The initiative aims to provide employees and workers in these fields with a streamlined process to obtain permanent resident status, fostering innovation and growth in Canada.

4. Welcoming H-1B Visa Holders from the United States

‘We’ve been watching very closely what’s been going on in the tech sector in the United States where we’ve seen a public narrative around layoffs. We’ve been having private conversations about opportunities going forward.” Recognizing the challenges faced by the tech sector in the United States, Minister Fraser announced an open work permit stream dedicated to H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US to apply for a Canadian work permit, and study or work permit options for their accompanying family members.

Starting July 16, this program will allow 10,000 H-1B visa holders to work in Canada, presenting them with new opportunities and helping Canada capitalize on their expertise.

5. Introducing Canada’s Digital Nomad Strategy

In response to the growing trend of remote work, Canada will introduce a digital nomad strategy. This initiative will enable individuals employed by foreign companies to work in Canada for up to six months. These digital nomads will have the opportunity to reside in Canadian communities, contribute to the local economy, and immerse themselves in the vibrant tech culture. Should they receive a job offer during their stay, they will be granted permission to continue working in Canada.

6. Developing a Stream for Highly Talented Individuals

Highlighting Canada’s commitment to attracting top-tier talent, Minister Fraser announced the development of a specific stream for highly skilled individuals. This stream will allow tech professionals from around the world to work for Canadian tech companies, irrespective of whether they have a job offer. By leveraging the expertise and creativity of these individuals, Canada aims to foster innovation and competitiveness in its tech ecosystem.

Minister Sean Fraser’s announcements underscore Canada’s determination to become a global leader in the tech industry. By attracting talented professionals, streamlining immigration processes, and fostering an environment that nurtures innovation, Canada is positioning itself as a prime destination for technological advancements.

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program

The Canadian startup visa program has been designed for international founders who have a qualifying business or have the potential to build businesses in Canada. With a Start-up Visa, up to 5 co-founders and their immediate family members (spouse and dependent children up to the age of 22) can immigrate to Canada directly as permanent resident. 

Unlike most startup visa programs in other countries, Canada does not provide temporary or conditional status. Successful applicants and their families can immigrate to anywhere in Canada as permanent residents with no conditions attached to the success or failure of their business.

Startup Visa Canada

There are 4 major requirements to be eligible for Canada’s Start-up Visa Program:

  • A qualifying business with the potential to expand and create jobs in Canada.
  • A letter of support from a designated organization – venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator such as Launch Academy. The list of government-approved designated organizations and their specific requirements can be found here
  • Proof of funds to support yourself and your dependents after you arrive in Canada.
  • Ability to communicate and work in English or French or both.

Unlike most startup visa programs in other countries, Canada does not provide temporary or conditional status. Successful applicants and their families can immigrate to anywhere in Canada as permanent residents with no conditions attached to the success or failure of their business. 

With great connectivity and close economic ties with the United States, Canada is an attractive choice and serves as a soft landing pad for many entrepreneurs looking to expand their business into North America and eventually around the globe.

In addition to the benefits of the Start-up Visa Program, Canada offers a lot more for people looking to move to the country: 

  • Thriving Economy & Government Support
  • Favourable Immigration Policy
  • Free Elementary & Secondary Education & World-Class Education System
  • Universal Public Health 
  • High Quality of Life 

Launch's Maple Program & Canada Startup Visa

Launch is a designated organization of the Canadian Government’s Startup Visa Program & the Global Skills Strategy Program. Launch’s Maple Program is designed to help emerging tech companies expand their business to North America. We help tech companies identify the best path for immigration for their team and their families through Startup Visa, Express Entry, Provincial Nomination, or Global Talent Stream. For more information visit