Canadian companies and startups are paying close attention to a phenomenon that grows on a daily basis and comes from the southern neighbor: more U.S. talent is looking at the northern country to develop a professional career, invest or open new business horizons.

A survey conducted by MaRS Discovery District from Toronto in July, among high-growth Canadian companies showed that 62 percent of those polled has noticed a significant increase in employment applications from the United States. MaRS sent the survey to 42 companies that are deal with these people looking for a job: 18 of them confirmed this increase. Ottawa-based ecommerce platform Shopify Inc. received 40 percent more applications from the United States in the first quarter of 2017 than the same period in 2016. ThinkData Works Inc., a data company, has reported a 50 percent increase in the number of applications from the United States if compared to 2016 and the double of foreign applicants.

The same has happened to the Toronto-based digital medical image startup, Figure 1: in the early 2017 it posted an ad to find people interested in occupying an executive position in the organization chart and the company received the double of applications from the United States if compared to 2016, when a similar position was offered. Besides the increase of job applications, the CEO of Gregory Levey has pointed out that there is a growing number of U.S. investors and heavyweights from Silicon Valley traveling to Canada.

The founder of popular MOVNorth website, Vikram Rangnekar, recently admitted that he created it to become a source of information for people interested in learning every detail to move to the “best-kept secret in North America”. Rangnekar launched this initiative after he decided to leave Silicon Valley back in 2015 and move to Toronto. That was when he realized that there wasn’t much information on how to do it.

This growing interest – which is not new and is related to economic, fiscal, social and political reasons – was undoubtedly boosted by Donald Trump’s win in November 2016. Since the early days of the year, the Canadian government has made the most of that situation and fostered new programs to attract foreign technological talent. The Start-Up Visa Program was the most important of them, launched in late July by the Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains. The federal government offers permanent residence to foreign entrepreneurs that decide to bring their companies to Canada. When announcing the ambitious project, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, underlined that “it identifies the encouraging of entrepreneurial spirit and growth of new companies as key elements to develop Canada’s economy”. Nonetheless, this program is not new. It was actually implemented in an experimental way back in 2013, under the Harper administration. Trudeau’s cabinet has now enhanced its validity and introduced it into the strategy of the ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC).

The critics have placed emphasis on the low number of new Canadian companies since its implementation four years ago. Although the program was offering up to 2,750 visas a year, only 117 applicants have been given the permanent residence in this period, who have launched 68 startups and totaled 3.7 million dollars in terms of investment capital. The detractors point out that the efforts carried out by the federal government do not have proportional results with significant impact on the country’s economy. An applicant must previously have the commitment of any qualified Canadian investor, known as angel investors, risk capital companies and incubators. When possible applicants obtain investments from one of these private funding sources, IRCC takes their Visa application into consideration, which could take up to six months to be processed. “We’ve been very clear from our governmental position, while other jurisdictions are focused on building walls,” and, “we are truly focused on opening doors and creating opportunities for people to come here and help create and develop Canadian business,” the Canadian minister explained.

This principle statement contrasts with the measures fostered by Donald Trump at the neighboring country: he has already established limitations to the H-1B visa, the main way for the United States to attract world talent, especially in the technological field. Meanwhile, Canada has launched the Global Talent Stream within the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, which proposes a two-week period to grant the visa and process work permits. This is another great argument put on the table by Canada in a bid to attract world talent. If we compare both scenarios: IT workers living in the United States, with problems to renovate their visa could find a job and move to Canada within a few weeks. The impact of the Global Talent Stream has not had a visible effect yet in the Canadian labor market –it was launched in June-, but the numbers managed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC) show that U.S. citizens are also heading north.

Moreover, the figures suggest that more U.S. citizens will be coming to Canada through the International Mobility Program (IMP) in 2017 if compared to 2015 and 2016. Some 14,835 U.S. qualified workers were granted a temporary visa in Canada within the framework of this program, January 1 – June 30, 2017. As for 2016, 28,155 visas were given. Though the U.S. professionals were also on top of the statistics in 2015, the 2017 numbers show a renewed interest in working in Canada among highly-qualified citizens south of the border.


Category A: For employers that have been approved by a designated organization. This is the list of partners designated by the EESD (Employment and Social Development Canada), on June 12, 2017

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

BC Tech Association

Business Development Bank of Canada

Communitech Corporation

Council of Canadian Innovators

Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service

ICT Manitoba (ICTAM)

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

– Accelerated Growth Service

MaRS Discovery District

National Research Council

– Industrial Research Assistance Program

Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration

Ontario Ministry of Economic Growth and Development

VENN Innovation

Under category A, foreign workers must have a unique and specialized talent so as to have access to a permanent work permit in Canada. Some of these two conditions are to me met:

-Highly paid position with an income of 80,000 dollars or higher.  –Advanced knowledge of the industry. –Advanced title in a specialization field of interest for the employer.  –Five-year minimum of expertise in the specialization field.

Category B: For employers interested in hiring qualified workers on the new Global Talent Occupations List  -Managers of IT systems   -IT engineers (except for software engineers and designers)   -Information system analysts and consultants  -Database analysts and data managers  -Software engineers and designers –Computer programmers and interactive media developers –Web designers and developers  -Technologists and electric/electronic engineering technicians –Information system test technicians  -Digital means and Design


The Labor Market Benefit Plan (LMBP) is a key requirement for professionals included on the Global Talent Occupations List. Developed with the ESDC, it must show the way hiring a foreign worker will help a company create jobs for Canadian citizens or train them. This is how the ESDC monitors the progress of a company. The Labor Market Benefit Plan offers obligatory and complementary benefits. Under category A, the obligatory benefit refers to the creation, in a direct or indirect way, of jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

As for Category B, the compulsory benefit aims at increasing skills and training investments for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The Labor Market Benefit Plan is also to provide complementary benefits, which are different from compulsory benefits. These include, but are not limited to:

-Job creation,     -Investment in terms of skills and training   -Knowhow transfer   -Performance improvement   -Implementation of better practices or policies from employers to workers


Business Legitimacy

The employers must show evidence that they are actively involved in the business where hiring temporary worker is required. The company is to provide goods or services related to the job offer.


Employers are encouraged to hire Canadian citizens and permanent residents before looking for foreign workers. A description of the process will be required.


The wages are to meet the amount paid to Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the same position.

Work Obligations and Conditions

Workers hired under the TFWP (Temporary Foreign Workers Program) can only occupy the position they were hired for. Foreign workers are protected by the same laws applied to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The exploitation of foreign workers violates the Canadian legislation.

Provincial and Territorial Laws Engulf such Rules as:

-Working hours (including extra hours)   -Compensation   -Work conditions   -Job completion   -Safe workplace

Foreign workers must be covered by a provincial or territorial insurance related to workplace safety. Any private plan is to meet or improve the terms included in the provincial or territorial plan.

Language Restriction

Jobs can only require English or French when announced. If any other language is needed, it is to be justified when applying.

Unionized Positions

As for unionized jobs, foreign workers must be treated at the same level of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, in terms of wage and conditions.

Employer’s Duty

The employers must meet all general requirements specified on the TFWP (Temporary Foreign Worker Program)