Calling all H-1B Visa Holders Come to Canada!

by Ronalee Carey Law

July 2023

Please note, this program has now closed.

On July 16th, IRCC will begin accepting applications for three-year open work permits for holders of H-1B (USA) visas. The first 10,000 applicants will be accepted.

No instructions have been posted to the IRCC website as to what portal will be used for submission of the application, what documents will be required, or even basic eligibility information such as whether you must be residing in the USA when you apply. For those who wish to apply, it’s going to be a mad scramble to complete the application and submit the required documents in time. The program could close within hours.

Applicants who wish to be notified when the program goes live can follow IRCC on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

This special work permit is part of a broader effort to woo highly skilled IT workers to Canada. It includes the advertisement of a ‘digital nomad’ program, allowing remote work for non-Canadian employers while visiting Canada for up to six months. This isn’t actually a new program; visitors could always work remotely.

Some, including Toronto Star immigration reporter Nicholas Keung, have questioned why IRCC is creating so many different programs and whether, in doing so, IRCC has lost the bigger vision for Canada’s immigration system. I have to agree. I would prefer that IRCC focus on reducing processing times across all lines of business. Right now, applicants in Canada are waiting 145 for a work permit to be processed. It’s unfair to offer H-1B holders processing times of less than two months when employees already working for Canadian employers can’t get new work permits for almost five months. Further, I’d like IRCC to allot resources to improve its processes for requesting and receiving additional documents. I’ve had a number of applications denied recently for failure to provide a document that hadn’t actually been requested or when the document was provided, but IRCC’s internal communication system broke down, and the document didn’t get to the officer.

More information on the new measures is available here:

And a tip - this may be the portal that will be used: