The Canadian government is recruiting high-skilled foreigners working in the United States to move to Canada – and the program was so successful that it reached its target of 10,000 applicants in just two days.
Canada this week launched a special work permit for foreign workers who have already obtained an H-1B visa in the US, which is around 600,000 and mostly from India and China. The program’s 10,000 quota was filled in the first two days of the week, a spokesman for Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said Wednesday.
“We have a whole campaign to promote this and we need to end that,” said spokesman Jeremy Bellefeuille.
It is unusual for a country to clearly target visa holders of another country. Bellefeuille said the program is a trial run, and that the minister will now consider the next steps.
Every year, up to 85,000 people are selected for H-1B visas in the US, a mainstay of technology giants such as Amazon.com Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc and International Business Machines Corp .
The H-1B visa program allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialized jobs in sectors such as technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they are issued for three years and are renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the US are from India and China.
If they are fired or released from the US company sponsoring them they must find a job and be sponsored within 60 days.
Fraser highlighted the Canadian work permit aimed at America H-1B visa holders at the Collision tech conference in Toronto last month. The conference attracts technology workers from around the world.
The moves come as a wave of layoffs hit the tech sector. Companies like Meta, Amazon and Google are making cuts.
Canadian work permits include study or work permit options for accompanying family members of US H-1B visa holders. It became available on July 16 and is set to remain in effect for one year, or until immigration authorities receive 10,000 applications.
Bruce Heyman, a US ambassador to Canada during the Obama administration, said Canada’s gain in the program is the US’s loss.
“Canada sees an opportunity to bring talented individuals to Canada and if we can’t keep them then shame on us and kudos to Canada for recognizing the opportunity and attracting them,” Heyman said.
“Attractiveness for the best and brightest to come to America has always been a key to our success and any reduction in that comes with significant risk, especially since our birth rate is running below the replacement rate today. ,” Heyman said.