Canada launches new Global Skills Strategy

Global Publication June 2017

The Canadian government recently launched its new Global Skills Strategy (Strategy) to promote global investment in Canada and facilitate faster entry into Canada for top international talent. Initially announced in November 2016, this Strategy was developed after collaboration between various ministries to give Canadian employers a faster and more predictable process to attract global talent and individuals with specific skills to Canada.

In terms of international mobility, the Global Skills Strategy includes four important changes:

  • Two new work permit exemptions for short-term work in Canada;

  • Two-week work permit processing times for eligible high-skilled workers under the existing International Mobility Program;

  • A dedicated service channel for employers bringing significant investment to Canada; and

  • The creation of a Global Talent Stream for skilled occupations in shortage and for employers with unique talent needs.

New work permit exemptions

Two new work permit exemptions were implemented with the launch of the Global Skills Strategy.

The first is for highly skilled workers who enter Canada for very short-term assignments. This includes all individuals whose jobs are listed under the skill type 0 (executive, managerial) or A (professional) of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). Eligible workers are now permitted one 15 consecutive day work permit-exempt stay in Canada every six months, OR one 30 consecutive day work permit-exempt stay every 12 months.

The second exemption applies to researchers taking part in short-duration research projects conducted in Canada. These researchers are now allowed one 120-day stay every 12 months without requiring a work permit when working on a research project at a publicly funded degree-granting institution or affiliated research institution.

Although these new exemptions are attractive, employers must be careful in using them as the foreign worker’s duration of stay in Canada cannot be extended.

Two-week processing times at visa offices for highly skilled workers

The Global Skills Strategy aims at getting workers to come to Canada faster. Currently, some work permit processing times at visa offices can take up to four months.

The new Strategy proposes to reduce these processing times to two weeks for foreign workers who comply with the following requirements: 1) they are applying from outside Canada; 2) they are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment process via the International Mobility Program; 3) their job is listed NOC 0 or A; AND 4) the work permit will be employer specific and the employer has submitted an offer of employment using the Employer Portal and paid the employer compliance fee ($230 CAD).

Although these processing times are a great improvement for Canadian employers, it is important for employers to remember they must still factor in the time the foreign worker will need to gather all the necessary documents for his/her application, which might include obtaining police clearances and medical examinations.

Employer dedicated service channel

A dedicated service channel has been created to help employers navigate the immigration application process to help meet their specific needs. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will select employers who bring significant investment to Canada and offer them assistance through this service channel.

The Global Talent Stream

As part of the Strategy, the new Global Talent Stream will assist Canadian employers by providing them with expedited access to in-demand global talent. There are two distinct categories under the global talent stream:

  • Category A applies to employers who were referred to the Global Talent Stream by one of Employment and Social Development Canada's (ESDC) designated partners AND who are hiring unique and specialized talent to scale-up or grow.

  • Category B applies to employers seeking to hire highly skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations found on the global talent occupations list.

To participate in the Global Talent Stream, employers are required to pay a $1,000 CAD fee per applicant and work with ESDC to develop a labour market benefits plan, which is meant to demonstrate their commitment to activities that will have lasting, positive impacts on the Canadian labour market.

As the Global Talent Stream does not require a minimum recruitment obligation or the need to provide a transition plan, Canadian employers can expect to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment within 10 days from ESDC and a work permit within another 10 days from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.


If you are an employer looking to hire highly skilled foreign workers, check with our immigration specialists if you are eligible to present your applications through the Global Talent Stream or if your foreign workers can benefit from one of the many work permit exemptions to accelerate their arrival to Canada.

Recent publications

Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest legal news, information and events . . .