BC Follows Canada-Wide Trend in Issuing Tech-Focused Immigration Draws
Thanks to Canada’s start-up friendly immigration policies, more information technology (IT) talent is headed to Canada than ever before. This increase in international talent is fueling Canada’s booming tech industry. As a result, new Provincial Nominee Program streams that target tech-sector talent are becoming an increasingly popular way for provinces to attract and retain talent.
Tech-Centric Provincial Nominee Program Streams & Draws
Canada’s IT industry is growing fast, and provinces from coast to coast are competing to fulfill the demand for talent in this sector. To attract talent, provinces are increasingly introducing Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) that specifically target tech talent. This allows individuals with the necessary skills to bolster each province’s tech-sector to apply for a “nomination” by the province. They gain an additional 600 points in the Federal Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System, almost guaranteeing an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residency.
Modern PNPs mimic the Federal Express Entry system: while individuals apply to specific streams, they must nevertheless surpass common ‘threshold’ score to get an ITA for a Provincial Nomination. These threshold scores are determined by how many individuals the province wants to invite: the fewer spots available, the higher the score. Traditionally, these threshold scores consider individuals from every stream. In short, individuals from the PhD, Tech, Skilled Workers, and other streams compete against each other for the opportunity to apply for a Provincial Nomination. The final successful group is comprised of individuals from each stream.
In an effort to bolster the tech sector, provinces are increasingly conducting "tech-only" draws; i.e., only individuals who have applied under the tech streams get the opportunity to apply for a Provincial Nomination. Tech-only draws increase an individual’s chance of selection to apply for a Provincial nomination. These streams are prioritized (so they are competing with fewer people), and the typical score threshold in each stream is lower than if all streams compete against each other.
Provincial Tech Booms
British Columbia is the most recent Canadian province to hold with tech-only immigration draws as part of their PNP. From May to July 2017, BC’s PNP conducted six tech-only draws, a strong indicator of BC’s booming tech industry and the need for more talent. Ontario held a similar draw in June 2017 under their Human Capital Priorities Stream, issuing invitations to apply (known as notifications of interest, or NOIs) to ICT Professionals. Some were issued even if candidates did not meet the minimum 400-point threshold applicable to all other streams. Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick have also hosted similar draws, albeit catered to the specific designs of their PNPs.
BC’s booming tech industry is partly due to the influx of talent from Silicon Valley and other US tech hubs. Canada has been quietly investing in and building the tech scene for years, creating innovative ‘tech corridors’ in multiple location across Canada, including Vancouver and the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor. This, combined with hostile environments elsewhere (think “America First” and “Brexit” policies), are increasingly making Canada more attractive.
Attracting International Talent
BC clearly has no trouble attracting international talent, especially from the US and Silicon Valley. Although it can’t quite match California’s climate, BC (relative to the rest of Canada, at least) is quite tolerable. Also, BC’s proximity to US markets has helped build a strong connection, too. The film industry even calls Vancouver “Hollywood North” as it's a common shooting location for Hollywood movies.
Provincial Demand for Tech Talent
As indicated, in the past year several other provinces have targeted tech talent with their PNP draws. Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have all sought tech professionals. The Canadian government also recently introduced the Global Talent Stream to fast-track work permit processing times for talent sought by Canadian employers. These processing times are down to an astonishing 2 weeks. This demand for tech talent across Canada promises a strong future for Canada’s tech industry.
Canada’s emphasis on bringing in international talent is beneficial for the Canadian economy and the booming tech industry. These provinces provide employment opportunities for international workers seeking jobs in their field. While the US is closing its doors to international talent, Canadian provinces are making it easier for skilled immigrants to settle, contribute to booming industries, and strengthen the economy.