tech talent
The proposed visa would serve as a pathway to permanent residency for software developers, data scientists and individuals with technical skill sets that are in high demand. Source: Carlos Costa/AFP

Here’s some welcome news for international tech talent: the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) is calling for the federal government to introduce a High Potential Tech Visa to give in-demand tech professionals a pathway to Canada without a job offer in hand.

In its report, “Talent & Skills Strategy”, the tech council notes that Canada is facing a critical shortage of skilled tech talent. It made 13 key recommendations for policymakers to support Canada’s growing tech industry.

“For Canada, it is now estimated that by the end of 2025, employment in the digital economy will reach 2.26 million or roughly 11% of all employment in Canada,” the report read. 

“While the need for skilled tech workers is most acute at scale-up companies, growth in the digital economy at large will trigger demand for an additional 250,000 jobs. Canada’s current workforce is not positioned to meet this demand.”

tech talent

The proposed route would enable eligible individuals to have the flexibility to work, switch jobs or employers. Source: Josh Edelson/AFP

Proposed visa to attract more tech talent

The proposed visa would target high-skilled tech talent like software developers, engineers and data scientists.

Currently, Canada’s immigration system requires most people seeking work visas to have a valid job offer to qualify. CCI notes that this “represents an unnecessary barrier” for high-skilled tech talent who want to set up a life and career in Canada. 

“Software developers, data scientists and other technical skill sets are in extremely high demand. If they come to Canada, they will be able to find work on whatever terms they choose,” said CCI. 

This route would enable eligible individuals to have the flexibility to work, switch jobs or employers. 

“They should also receive the benefit from being able to extend their stay and attain permanent residency in Canada (subject to specific time or employment requirements), without needing to switch into another visa category,” said the report.

tech talent

Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

What students should know

The proposed visa could mean high-skilled, tech graduates would have an alternative pathway to permanent residency in Canada without a job offer in hand. 

Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser previously said the Canadian government is hoping to give international students a route into permanent residency, stressing the importance of immigration and the contributions of international students to the country’s economy in an interview with ApplyBoard. 

“Our message to international students and graduates is simple,” he told ApplyBoard. “We don’t just want you to study here. We’re hoping to create pathways that allow you to stay here and make a lasting contribution beyond your academic career.”

Fraser clarified that a smoother pathway is being planned out at the moment. “We’re doing some of the policy work now. It’ll take us a little bit of time,” he said. “It’ll allow people to better plan their succession to come here to study and then after they’re done to transition to permanent residency.”