The Global Talent Stream: Canada's Fast-Track Work Visa Program

If you’re an entrepreneur in need of capital and talent, but don’t have time to wait months or years to get your business up and running, the Global Talent Stream program might be the answer you’re looking for. The Canadian Global Talent Stream work visa program provides fast-track access to Canada for skilled workers who are invited by Canadian employers to fill job vacancies that can’t be filled by Canadian or permanent residents.

The Global Talent Stream: Canada's Fast-Track Work Visa Program
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In order to attract and retain the best talent from around the world, Canada launched the Global Talent Stream (GTS) in November of 2017, which allows businesses to apply to bring in talent from outside of Canada on a fast-track work visa program for two years. The goals of the GTS are to support business innovation and growth by bringing in foreign expertise to help Canadian businesses compete globally, as well as to diversify and strengthen the Canadian workforce.

It also included a loosening of NAFTA work permit restrictions and waiving of the labor market impact assessment (LMIA) requirement. Moreover, the GTS will also benefit Canada’s immigration system by attracting more skilled individuals who want to start their own businesses and contribute to our country’s economy.

However, the Canadian government introduced changes to its Global Talent Stream (GTS) visa program to help attract and retain more international talent in Canada. The GTS was previously only open to organizations that were granted approval under the Federal Economic Development Agency of Canada for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). Now, however, organizations in all parts of Canada can apply through FedDev Ontario or one of six regional development agencies across the country. The program facilitates faster processing of work permits, simplifies the hiring process, and decreases application fees.

What is the Global Talent Stream (GTS)?

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is Canada’s fast-track work visa program. This new government initiative aims to attract highly-skilled foreign workers to the country by making the process of obtaining a work visa more efficient and fast-tracked in certain circumstances.

According to data released in June 2019, within the first two years, nearly 40,000 foreign workers came to Canada through the GTS. And more than 1,100 Canadian employers have used the stream to recruit talented workers from abroad. Moreover, in 2021, approximately 5,000 positions in Canada were filled through the Global Talent Stream (GTS).

The Canadian Government recognizes the importance of immigration to the country's economy. With the highest job vacancy rate in decades, immigration is necessary for Canada to ensure the country has enough workers to fill its many open positions. The Global Talent Stream is one of the many ways in which Canada welcomes foreign workers.

How Does the Global Talent Stream Work?

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is designed to assist Canadian employers with hiring highly-skilled foreign talent who will enable Canadians to compete on an international scale. The GTS operates in two categories, Category A and Category B. The categories describe the type of foreign workers employers can hire, and the expected wages to be paid, and depending on the category chosen, employers may need to get a referral from a GTS designated partner.

Category A: Designated Partner Referral

In order to apply to Category A of the Global Talent Stream, an employer must have been referred to the stream by one of the GTS’s designated partners and be using the stream to hire unique and specialized talent. Check the list of Designated Partners for referral to Category A of the Global Talent Stream (as of December 2021).

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

Category B: In-Demand Occupations

Category B is for employers looking to hire certain highly skilled foreign workers for occupations found on the Global Talent Occupations List, which have been determined to be in-demand and for which there is insufficient domestic labour supply. In addition, the position must pay a salary equal to or above the prevailing wage for the position. In order to apply for Category B of the Global Talent Stream, employers must be seeking to hire highly-skilled foreign talent to fill positions in occupations found on the Global Talent Occupations List for Category B of the Global Talent Stream (as of July 2019).

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Furthermore, once an employer has confirmed their eligibility for one of the two streams, they can begin their Global Talent Stream application. The application form is available on the GTS webpage 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.

How to Apply for the Global Talent Stream

Meanwhile, here are steps to follow as a foreign worker to apply for a Canadian work permit through the GTS program.

To begin with, it’s important to understand that you can’t directly apply to the GTS, only Canadian employers can. They apply to the GTS to become designated and to obtain labor market impact assessments so that they may hire eligible foreign workers.

  1. The first step is to check if you qualify as a highly-skilled worker according to the criteria listed in Category A and Category B below.
  2. Then, you must obtain a job offer from an employer in Canada who qualifies for the GTS under Category A or Category B.
  3. You need to prepare a work permit application that includes your job offer letter and a copy of the LMIA given to you by your employer. You will also need a police clearance certificate and a medical exam.
  4. When submitted, your work permit application will be processed in as little as 10 business days and soon you’ll be working in Canada! Your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children can also qualify for expedited visa processing when they apply for a work permit, study permit, or visitor visa.

How Long Will the Global Talent Stream Take?

The Canadian government notes that, in general, work permits are issued within two weeks, while others estimate they can take anywhere from six months to a year or more. Factors like your experience level and language abilities can also play a role in how long it takes. However, one of the main benefits of the Global Talent Stream is its expedited work permit processing time. Global Talent Stream candidates may have their permits processed in under two weeks.

How Much Does it Cost?

The initial cost to apply for a work permit under the Global Talent Stream is between $155 – $365 CAD (non-refundable), depending on where you intend to work. Subsequent costs vary depending on where you are from. For example, foreign nationals from low-risk countries are charged a $300 processing fee. There is no cap on how many applications can be made per year, nor any limit to how long they can stay in Canada. Fees charged by provinces and territories will apply once they arrive in their new province of residence.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a foreign national who can’t find a Canadian employer to sponsor your visa, don’t despair. The government recently unveiled its new Global Talent Stream (GTS), which provides fast-track access to permanent residence for highly skilled individuals in certain high-growth fields. And yes, you can bring your spouse or partner along with you too! 

Our Immigration team also publishes regular updates on the latest changes to Canada's immigration policies and programs. Sign up for our newsletter below to get these updates delivered straight to your inbox! Find out more on the Canadian Global Talent Stream with the link below.

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