Canada announces new program for U.S. H-1Bs

On June 27, 2023 Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a new program to attract U.S. workers with H-1B visas to Canada. The new program will allow up to 10,000 U.S. workers to apply for open work permits in Canada. No sponsor or pre-arranged employment is required. The work permits will be valid for up to three years. Spouses of H-1B workers will also be eligible for the open work permits. Children can obtain study permits to attend school in Canada. Canada will start accepting applications for this program July 16, 2023.

Several groups of U.S. H-1Bs may benefit from this program, including:

  • H-1B workers who have recently been laid off from their jobs, and who would prefer work in Canada rather than return to their home countries.
  • H-1B workers who are maxing out on their six years of H-1B eligibility and do not yet qualify for 7th-year extensions under AC21.
  • H-1B workers for US companies with Canadian affiliates who may need to work in Canada.

This program is not a permanent residence program. However, Canadian work experience is a key factor in the Express Entry program. Workers gain points for work experience in Canada, and will also qualify for the Canadian Experience stream of the Express Entry program.