The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is Canada’s answer to an economy in need of highly-skilled workers. According to data released in June 2019, two years into the GTS, nearly 40,000 people had come to Canada through the stream. Of these newcomers to Canada, nearly 24,000 were highly skilled workers in occupations such as computer programming, information system analysis and software engineering.

So, what’s the Global Talent Stream all about?

The GTS, part of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, is an immigration program that allows Canadian employers to expedite the hiring of foreign workers to fill specialized occupations when Canadians aren’t available for specific roles.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to process Global Talent Stream work permit applications in only two weeks, making the program the fastest immigration pathway for workers seeking a new life in Canada.

Consequently, it’s easy to see why more than 1,100 Canadian employers used the Global Talent Stream in its first two years. These employers have committed to creating more than 48,000 jobs and more than 12,500 paid co-op positions, while dedicating over $113 million in skills development and training.

What is the Global Talent Stream?

GTS applications are processed under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), a collection of work permit streams that brings newcomers to Canada on temporary work permits to fill specific labour needs. GTS is the wing of the TFWP for highly-skilled workers in specialized occupations, prioritizing those with experience in engineering and tech-related fields.

The Global Talent Stream was introduced in June, 2017 as a two-year pilot program. The program is jointly managed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Since being introduced, thousands of skilled foreign workers have successfully moved to Canada through the GTS, with many more workers expected to arrive in the years to come.

In the 2019 Federal Budget the government announced the program would become a permanent fixture in Canadian immigration, giving “local businesses expedited and predictable access to top global talent.”

Why does Canada need GTS?

Canadians recognize the importance of immigration to the economy. With the highest job vacancy rate in decades, immigration is necessary in Canada to ensure the country has enough workers to fill its many open positions. GTS is one of the many ways in which Canada welcomes foreign workers to contribute economically.

The Global Talent Stream also helps Canada to remain competitive in the global market, especially with regards to Canada’s southern neighbour, the United States. In recent years, the United States has implemented increasingly restrictive immigration policies for their H-1B visa program which, similar to the GTS, has allowed skilled workers to work temporarily in the US.

Under the Trump Administration, H-1B visa applicants have encountered the suspension of premium processing and an increase in the number of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and visa denials. With Canada’s increasingly relaxed immigration requirements and high rate of job openings, many skilled workers are choosing Canada over the United States in a phenomenon that’s been deemed Canada’s brain gain. Another difference between the GTS and the H-1B is that spouses and partners of GTS applicants bound for Canada may obtain an open work permit, allowing them to work in Canada for any employer and to switch jobs if they wish to do so; spouses and partners of H-1B workers bound for the US may experience difficulty in securing the right to work in that country under proposed changes.

The GTS is an excellent option for Canadian employers who need to fill specialized positions quickly and for foreign nationals with highly-skilled work experience, especially in engineering and tech-related fields. In the next two sections, we’ll look over the eligibility requirements and application procedure for Canadian employers and for foreign workers.

How does the GTS work? – Employers

All TFWP immigration streams use Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) to determine if a Canadian employer can hire a foreign worker. An LMIA is a document that assesses whether or not an available position can be filled by a Canadian worker. A positive LMIA indicates that there is no Canadian talent available to fill a position, thereby enabling the employer to hire someone from outside of the country.

Normally, an LMIA application takes months to prepare, submit, and process. With the GTS, many steps to the LMIA application are removed and the processing time is much faster. This allows Canadian employers to remain competitive in the global market, quickly bringing in talent to fill labour market needs.

In order to be eligible for the Global Talent Stream, a Canadian employer must fit one of two categories:

 

Category A – Designated Partner Referral:

To be eligible through this category, the Canadian employer must be referred by one of the GTS designated partner organizations, and be hiring unique and specialized talent. To find a referral, interested employers can consult the list of designated partners below and contact those most relevant to their industry.

Designated Partners – Global Talent Stream
Accelerate Okanagan
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
BC Tech Association
Burlington Economic Development Corporation
Business Development Bank of Canada
Canadian Economic Development for Quebec Regions
Cape Breton Partnership
City of Brampton
City of Hamilton’s Economic Development Office
City of Mississauga
Communitech Corporation
Council of Canadian Innovators
Economic Development Winnipeg
Edmonton Economic Development
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Genesis (Newfoundland)
Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service
Government of Alberta, Alberta Labour
Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
Government of Manitoba, Manitoba Education and Training
Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Business Inc.
Government of Ontario, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration – Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
Government of Ontario, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade – Ontario Investment Office
Government of Prince Edward Island, Island Investment Development Inc.
Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of the Economy
Halifax Partnership
Tech Manitoba
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada – Accelerated Growth Service
Invest Ottawa
Invest in Canada
Kingston Economic Development Corporation
Launch Academy
London Economic Development Corporation
MaRS Discovery District
National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
Privy Council Office, Special Projects Team
Regional Municipality of Niagara
Regional Municipality of York
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
Toronto Global
Town of Oakville
Vancouver Economic Commission
Venn Innovation
Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation
WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation
As of June, 2020

To be considered unique and specialized talent, the employee being hired must be paid a minimum of CAD $80,000 per year (or higher if the occupation’s annual prevailing wage is above this level), plus demonstrate advanced knowledge of the industry through either an advanced degree in a specialized area or at least five years of experience in a specialized position.

 

Category B – In-Demand Occupation:

To be eligible through this category, the Canadian employer must be hiring to fill a position on the Global Talent Occupations List, a list of high-skilled, in-demand occupations. In addition, the position must pay a salary equal to or above the prevailing wage for the position.

 

Global Talent Occupations List
NOC CodeOccupationMinimum Wage Requirement (annual)Minimum Wage Requirement (hourly)
0213Computer and information systems managersPrevailing wagePrevailing wage
2147Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)Prevailing wagePrevailing wage
Sub-set of 2161*Mathematicians and statisticians (Positions for actuaries or related occupations are excluded from this subset)Prevailing wagePrevailing wage
2171Information systems analysts and consultantsPrevailing wagePrevailing wage
2172Database analysts and data administratorsPrevailing wagePrevailing wage
2173Software engineers and designersPrevailing wagePrevailing wage
2174Computer programmers and interactive media developersPrevailing wagePrevailing wage
2175Web designers and developersPrevailing wagePrevailing wage
2281Computer network technicians$82,000 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
$39.42 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
2283Information systems testing technicians$80,000 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
$38.46 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
Sub-set of 5131Producer, technical, creative and artistic director and project manager – Visual effects and video game (The position requires 3+ years of experience in the visual effects, video game and/or animation industries)$78,000 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
$37.50 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
Sub-set of 5241Digital media designers (The position requires 3+ years of job experience in at least one of the following digital media design skills: 3D modeling, compositing, paint and roto, layout and match move, digital environment and Matte painting, texture, lighting shading, character effects, effects and simulations, design and scenario, rigging, user interface or user experience, responsive design (for gaming), virtual reality, augmented reality, digital media animation, levels editing for digital media design, software editing for digital media design, pipeline software development or applications relevant for digital media design)$80,000 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
$38.46 or higher prevailing wage
(Please note Quebec has unique wage requirements)
Last updated June, 2020

Once an employer has confirmed their eligibility for one of the two streams, they can begin their GTS application. The application form is available on the GTS website and can be submitted online, by mail, or by fax. The application requires information regarding the employer, the foreign worker, as well as the job offer, including details about compensation and benefits.

All employers applying to GTS for the first time must also submit a Labour Market Benefits Plan demonstrating how they will benefit the Canadian labour market by hiring a foreign worker. Each application must identify one mandatory benefit. For Category A, employers must show how they will increase jobs creation for Canadians and for Category B, employers must show how they will increase skills and training investment for Canadians. Additionally, employers must show how they will achieve two complementary benefits from this list:

  • Job creation
  • Investment in skills and training
  • Increase in workplace diversity
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Enhanced company performance
  • Best company practices or policies

Finally, employers must pay a processing fee of CAD $1,000 per foreign national they wish to hire.

GTS applications are typically processed in 10 business days. If an application is successful, the employer will receive a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which enables the foreign worker to apply for a work permit. Work permit applications that are submitted for a GTS position also qualify for expedited processing: averaging 10 business days!

Assessment Form: