Canada’s residency route for U.S. H-1B visa holders reaches 10,000 cap

By Moustafa Daly

Canada reached the cap of 10,000 applicants for its new residency route in less than 48 hours after launching the program on July 16, aimed at attracting tech talent from the US through the H-1B visa program.

"We reached the cap of 10,000 applications for this initiative on July 17, 2023," stated the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on the applications’ website.

The cap is only intended for main applicants, who can also include their spouses and dependents who would have the right to seek employment and education in the country. Successful applicants will receive a three-year work permit.

The H-1B visa is a U.S. nonimmigrant visa given to individuals in highly specialized research and development occupations.

“Yes, it filled up very fast,” says Antonin Favreau, attorney and founder at Montreal-based Favreau Law. However, he expresses caution over the long-term intention of the applicants: “While it's true that some H-1B visa holders may consider Canada as an alternative if they are unable to pursue their dreams in the USA for various reasons, it's difficult to predict the exact number of individuals who would choose this path in reality.”

Canada’s tech talent strategy 

The move to attract U.S.-based specialized foreign workers comes as part of Canada’s tech talent strategy, announced by its immigration minister Sean Fraser on June 27, 2023.

In addition to attracting H-1B visa holders from the U.S., Canada is also launching an innovation stream within the International Mobility Program, which would give exceptionally skilled professional nationals the chance to gain residency in the country.

Professionals expect authorities to evaluate the outcome of the strategy before possibly extending it.

“Canada has been known to implement time-limited programs, such as the caregiver programs, which can fill up quickly due to high demand,” explains Favreau. “They often evaluate the outcomes of new programs before making any significant changes. It's possible that they may not increase the cap for H-1B visa holders immediately, but rather assess the results of any initial measures taken,” the attorney adds.

Canada is targeting record immigration levels until 2025

Canada is targeting record immigration levels in the coming years to shore up a potential labor shortage and keep its economy growing. In November 2022, the government announced that it aims to attract a whopping figure of 1.5 million immigrants between 2023 and 2025, prioritizing those working in healthcare, tech, and other key economic sectors.

“It's indeed a situation worth keeping an eye on to see how things unfold in the future. Changes in immigration policies, and global migration trends can have a significant impact on individuals' decisions and opportunities,” says Favreau.

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