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IT Worker Program

Written by Henry J. Chang
Updated March 30, 2011

NOTICE: Last year, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada ("HRSDC") announced that on September 30, 2010, the IT Worker Program would come to an end, except for employers wishing to hire foreign workers for positions in British Columbia and Quebec, where the program was expected to remain in place for a limited time after September 30, 2010. On March 30, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("CIC") confirmed that the IT Worker Program would continue in Quebec until further notice and in British Columbia until September 30, 2011.

In response to a perceived shortage of software development workers in Canada, CIC [in conjunction with HRSDC, Industry Canada ("IC"), and the Software Human Resources Council ("SHRC")] developed a pilot project that would test an approach to expediting the HRSDC confirmation component of the work permit process. Under this pilot project, the job-specific confirmation is replaced by a national confirmation letter, which states, among other things, that certain software positions cannot be filled by Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The national confirmation letter removes the delay associated with the job-specific confirmation process.

In order to qualify for this expedited process, the foreign national must be seeking employment in one of the following jobs:

  1. Embedded Systems Software Designer;

  2. Software Products Developer;

  3. MIS Software Designer;

  4. Multimedia Software Developer;

  5. Senior Animation Effects Editor;

  6. Software Developer - Services; and

  7. Telecommunications Software Designer.

Required skills and experience, education, language ability, and an appropriate wage/salary are specified for each job description.

If an applicant arrives at a mission or port of entry seeking a work permit for a job offer fitting one of the job descriptions attached, the job is deemed to have been confirmed by HRSDC. It is still incumbent upon the applicant to provide the written job offer and/or contract of employment , and it will still remain to the issuing officer to satisfy himself or herself as to the qualifications and experience of the applicant and the bona fides of the employer and the job offer.

The IT Worker Program is targeted at workers entering the software sector on a temporary basis. CIC has previously stated that the program does not apply to individuals seeking permanent resident status in Canada. However, this does not mean that foreign nationals who have Canadian permanent residence applications pending will be disqualified from the IT Worker Program, since dual intent is recognized in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The IT Worker Program became effective on May 5, 1997, and has been extended several times. However, HRSDC has announced that on September 30, 2010, the program will come to an end, except for employers wanting to hire foreign workers for positions in Quebec, where the facilitated process will remain in place for a limited time after September 30, 2010.

Effective October 1, 2010, employers who wish to hire Temporary Foreign Workers previously eligible under the IT Work Program will be required to apply for a labour market opinion. As of this date, work permit applications received by CIC or by the Canada Border Services Agency at a port of entry will require a copy of the labour market opinion for the seven specific IT occupations that were previously under the program.

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