By Uglobal Staff
The Western Canadian province of Alberta has launched a new immigration pathway for foreign tech workers, promising potential candidates that their processing times for permanent residency applications would be less than six months despite the delays caused by COVID-19.
The new fast track program, known as the Accelerated Tech Pathway, was officially announced on January 13. The provincial Minister of Labour and Immigration Tyler Shandro said the pathway had been launched as part of Alberta's economic recovery plan following the global pandemic.
“Under this new pathway, tech professionals from across Canada and overseas can become permanent residents in as little as six months if they have a job offer in an in-demand tech industry occupation,” Shandro said in media.
NEW PATHWAY AIMS TO CIRCUMVENT FEDERAL BACKLOG
Canadian immigration lawyer Stephen Green, a partner at Green and Spiegel LLP in Toronto, doubted the six months timeframe, warning that the federal backlog could still cause delays under the new path.
“It is highly unlikely that these applications will be completed within six months as there is such a large inventory,” Green said.
He said the reason Alberta announced a new program is that some people are not eligible for the Express Entry system and need a nomination to become eligible. “Currently, the government is not selecting federal skilled workers and have limited their Canada experience draws because of the huge inventory.
“By Alberta creating their own program permits them the ability to self-select certain people. However, it is the federal government that completes the processing, and they are tremendously backlogged.”
ALBERTA WANTS TO RESOLVE LABOR SHORTAGE IN KEY TECH AREA
Canadian immigration consultant Christopher Willis, managing director at Latitude Consultancy, said the new pathway would prioritize jobs in key sectors in Alberta where workers are needed.
“It allows Alberta to prioritize applicants in occupations that have a labor shortage,” he said. “The successful applicant will still need to go through the federal process to get permanent residency.
He added: “This is a great opportunity for applicants whose points are too low to get selected under the regular Express Entry. It is also noteworthy that there have only been PNP Express Entry draws since September 2021, so this opens up the door to those in these occupations,” Willis said.
Willis also mentioned the fact that Alberta was not the only option for foreign tech workers; British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador also have designated tech pathways in Canada.
MAKING ALBERTA MORE ATTRACTIVE FOR TECH INVESTMENT
Minister Shandro said he wants the province to make a quick post pandemic recover.
"The faster we can fill these jobs with skilled and qualified workers, the stronger our overall recovery will be...We’re taking action to make Alberta even more attractive for tech workers,” the minister said.
Alberta's Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer said the program would attract tech investment.
"This accelerated immigration pathway will help attract the best and the brightest talent from across the globe to Alberta to meet this growing demand. It will also ensure Alberta continues to be a top destination for tech investment, which helps diversify our economy," Schweitzer said.
ALBERTA’S ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
Applicants for the new program would first have to be eligible for Alberta Express Entry Stream; anyone who is eligible for the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trades Program can apply for the tech pathway.
The second and key step is to have a valid job offer or contract from a company based in Alberta in anyone of the 23 listed eligible occupations, which include traditionally tech roles like engineers and developers, but also roles like human resources manager, business development officers and directors.
If all criteria are met, applicants get 600 points that give a huge boost to their overall Express Entry scores.
More than 3,000 tech companies are based in Alberta, according to figures released by the Alberta Enterprise Corporation.
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