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Canada is launching a work permit for U.S. H-1B holders. Here’s what you need to know

By Melissa Lopez-Martinez, CTVNews.ca Writer

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    Toronto, Ontario (CTV Network) — As of Sunday, the Canadian government has opened up applications for a new work permit for foreign workers living in the U.S. to move to Canada. Foreign nationals living in the U.S. with an H-1B visa can now apply to work and live in Canada as the federal government begins to roll out measures of its new strategy to attract tech workers. The H-1B specialty occupation visa holder work permit was announced in June along with updates to various workers permits, including the creation of an express entry program for workers employed or trained to work in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) sectors. With the application process officially opened, here’s what applicants need to know. WHO CAN APPLY? The H-1B visa program is specifically for highly educated individuals working in or trained to work in a specialty occupation. These jobs often require additional education like a bachelor’s degree or certification or licence required to work in that specialty occupation. Holders of this visa can live and work in the U.S. for three years and a max of up to six years on exception, as well as their spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21. While, Canada’s new program for U.S. H-1B visa holders was announced in part of the federal government’s aggressive plan to attract workers in the technology sector, the program is open to any holder of a U.S. H-1B visa despite their job field. Previous jobs approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have included software engineers, graphic designers, electrical engineers as well as physicians, teachers, and therapists. Successful applicants of the program will be able to get an open work permit to live and work in Canada for up to three years. The Canadian work permit won’t be revoked if the permit holder gets laid off or quits their job, unlike the U.S. H-1B, which requires workers to find a new job within 60 days or leave the country. However there is no possibility for extension, although permit holders can try and apply through another program after the three-year period. Similar to the U.S. H-1B visa, the Canadian pathway will also allow the spouses, common-law partner and/or children of a temporary worker to live and work in Canada for the granted time period. HOW CAN I APPLY? Interested applicants can apply through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) page portal by submitting the following documents; a copy of their current H-1B visa, a Notice of Action form that confirms when the U.S. government approved their workers permit and proof of U.S. residency. The application also costs C$155 and successful applicants will be notified in approximately six weeks if they have been approved. Once approved, the IRCC says a “port of entry letter of introduction” will be sent to the applicant detailing how long they can work in Canada and under what conditions. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says there are currently 400,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. but the temporary policy will only accepts applicants for one year or until 10,000 applications are received, whichever comes first. With files from CTVNews.ca’s Jennifer Ferreira and Phil Hahn.

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