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Global Talent Stream Labour Market Impact Assessment for Tech and Digital Entertainment

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by: Jennifer Hunter

The impact of COVID-19 has left immigration application processing times uncertain. This has made it extremely difficult for companies hiring foreign nationals to predict when these staff can start their employment.

The Global Talent Stream Labour Market Impact Assessment (GTS LMIA) remains a reliable option to bring skilled workers into Canada. It continues to have consistent processing times which makes it possible for companies to draft up a plan to onboard new hires. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) aims to process GTS LMIA applications within 10 business days. For the most part, this is what we are experiencing. It should be noted that no recruitment efforts are required by the company under the GTS LMIA program. This is another major time saver given other LMIA streams require at least four weeks of recruitment before an application can be launched.

Released in June 2017, the program is designed to help fill the labour gap in technology and digital entertainment sectors. Within the program, there are two categories an employer may choose to apply under. Category A of the Global Talent Stream is an option if the company has been referred by one of the stream’s designated partners and it is hiring an individual with unique and specialized talent. The second option, Category B, has specific tech and digital entertainment positions that are identified in the Global Talent Occupations List. Examples of positions are computer and software engineers, web developers, visual effects and gaming producers and digital media designers (including visual effects artists). If your company is hiring a foreign national for one of the identified positions, some of which have a salary minimum or required years of work experience by the applicant, you may be eligible to apply through this option.

Companies wanting to participate in the GTS LMIA are required to work with ESDC to develop a Labour Market Benefits Plan (LMBP). This plan outlines the company’s commitment to activities that will have lasting, positive impacts on the Canadian labour market. In exchange, ESDC will approve the LMBP and review the commitments with the company annually to ensure they’ve been met. ESDC will also allow the LMBP to be used for multiple positions, provided the commitments made in the plan reflect the additional positions sought. These positions may be used on an as needed basis by the company over the next year, however they are not required to use them all should their demand change. The company is expected to report on how they have met or exceeded the commitments listed in their LMBP. During the review, the company may also request more positions under the GTS LMIA program in exchange for expanding existing commitments and/or creating new ones.

When the approved GTS LMIA is issued, it is assigned to the worker named in the application who can then use it to apply for a work permit. Processing time for a GTS LMIA work permit should be faster than applying under most other streams because all GTS LMIA work permit applications submitted outside Canada are eligible for a two week priority processing under a program called Global Skills Strategy. This two week priority processing has been disrupted somewhat with COVID delays but we are still seeing shorter timelines than those applications submitted without priority processing. The approved work permit is closed, meaning the new employee is only authorized to work for the company and position listed on their work permit. The permit will be issued for up to two years with the option to renew thereafter with a new GTS LMIA approval. The worker may also consider applying for permanent residency. The GTS LMIA can help with qualifying under the Express Entry program and increasing the Comprehensive Ranking Score of the application.

While temporary COVID-19 border measures are in place, we advise companies to focus on hiring non-visa required individuals or to focus on workers already inside of Canada. Non-visa required nationals are eligible to apply for their work permit at the port of entry upon arriving to Canada, which alleviates the risk of possible delays through an outland processing office. Those hired within Canada may be eligible to apply at a land port of entry (known as flag pole) or through an inland processing office. They may also fall under one of the temporary COVID-19 public policies that support workers. A highlight of these policies is the option for interim work authorization, usually processed in two weeks or less, while awaiting the work permit to process at an inland office. This interim work authorization is only available to workers on a closed work permit changing employers. Note, at the time of writing, only fully vaccinated foreign nationals are eligible to apply at the port of entry, including those who flag pole.

Overall the GTS LMIA remains an efficient and reliable option. If you have a need to hire tech or digital entertainment talent this program should not be overlooked.

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