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Canadian Immigration Trends – Significant Economic Benefit and the Defunct Information Technology Workers Program

July 08, 2011

September 30, 2010 marked the end of the Information Technology Workers Immigration Program (the “IT Specialist Category”). The program was created in an attempt to attract highly-skilled information technology (“IT”) professionals from around the world while also meeting an identified labour shortage in the Canadian IT sector. In order to qualify under the program, applicants were required to aptly demonstrate their experience and knowledge under one of seven IT related job titles listed by Citizenship & Immigration Canada (“CIC”). Given the amount of applications received under the IT Specialist Category, it would appear that the program was popular among foreign IT workers. The reasoning behind the elimination of the IT Specialist Category was straightforward; Canada successfully addressed the labour shortage facing the IT industry. Consequently, CIC announced that the program would no longer be in operation and that future foreign IT professionals would have to apply for a work permit using more traditional methods; for instance, obtaining a labour market opinion (“LMO”).  

There are those of the opinion that the introduction of the IT Specialist Program was a success, evidenced by the number of applications received and the successful fulfillment of the program’s objective. However, CIC announced this week that statistical data amassed since the IT Specialist Program ended in September 2010, reveals a interesting trend developing. Namely, a significant spike in applications received under the intra-company transferee (“ICT”) category. While some observers have explained this sudden spike in ICT applicants as circumstantial, there are those that have a hard-time believing that the increase in ICT applicants represents anything but an attempt to circumvent the Canadian immigration system by applicants or representatives desperate to avoid the more laborious and time-consuming process of having to obtain an LMO.

The situation is reminiscent of another downward trend in Canadian business immigration which surfaced some years ago, the Management Consultant category. Similar to the IT Specialist Category, qualified management consultants under the NAFTA were (and still are) eligible to apply for a work permit without having to first obtain an LMO. What ensued was CIC receiving a deluge of applications under the category, prompting immigration officials to opine, rather comically, that anyone who advised a friend in relation to a business idea was claiming to be a certified management consultant. As a result, the management consultant category has become one of the most highly-scrutinized categories available to foreign workers. Unfortunately, actual accredited management consultants have had a much more difficult time entering Canada despite their outstanding professional experience and qualifications. Should the ICT category befall the same fate, it could conceivably hinder a foreign businesses ability to transfer workers to Canada.

Going forward, it will be even more important for foreign businesses transferring workers to Canada to familiarize themselves with the general guidelines applicable to accomplishing this task. It is vital that companies, at a minimum, speak with their representatives when discussing the different options available to the company and its employees. With an ever-changing Canadian immigration landscape, it is prudent advice to be aware of current immigration trends that could negatively affect a company’s ability to transfer workers to Canada.  

Tags: Canadian Business Immigration


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