Canadian immigration pathways for foreign tech workers and graduate ICT students.

Canada’s ICT sector posted strong growth in 2019 and outperformed the overall Canadian economy in output, employment, and innovation growth. With $210 billion in revenue in 2019, the ICT sector made a substantial contribution ($94.1 billion) to Canada’s GDP and accounted for 4.8% of national GDP. There are over 43,200 companies in the Canadian Information and Communications Technologies sector. The large majority (over 39,000) fall within the software and computer services industries. The industry has been employed 666,540 workers with an annual average salary is $82,221, which is 53,7% higher than Canadian average, with the highest earners coming from the software and computer services and wholesaling sub-sectors.

The ICT sector is characterized by a knowledge-intensive workforce, with over half of its workers holding a university degree, compared to 30.5% within all Canadian industries.

The software and computer services sub-sector employs the largest proportion of university- educated workers within the ICT sector (62.2%).

Due to the high demand for tech workers, many permanent and temporary immigration pathways have been created by the Canada Government to support the ICT sector. ICT workers can consider applying to skill workers programs or several specific programs for tech workers.

1/ Express Entry: the most popular option for tech talents.

Launched in January 2015, Express Entry is Canada’s flagship application management system for the following economic immigration categories: The Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program. In 2018, around 280,000 EE profiles were submitted, and more than 92,000 skilled workers admitted to Canada following the IRCC 2018 year-end report.

2/ Provincial Nominee Program (PNP):

Many provinces and territories generate immigration programs for skilled workers based on the sectors that they have labour shortages. Tech workers are high demand workforces in Ontario and British Columbia, so they offer the pilot programs for tech talents.

2.1/ The Ontario Tech Pilot: For ICT workers who meet the stream’s minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) in IRCC’s Express Entry system and meet the criteria of Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream. Candidates’ occupations should be in one of the following six-tech sector occupations:

  • Software engineers and designers (NOC 2173)
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 2174)
  • Computer engineers (NOC 2147)
  • Web designers and developers (NOC 2175)
  • Database analysts and data administrators (NOC 2172)
  • Computer and information systems managers (NOC 0213)

To be eligible for nomination, applicants must demonstrate work experience in one of the eligible NOC codes. Your application may be refused if you do not demonstrate work experience in one of the eligible NOC codes. For more details, visit

2.2/ British Columbia Tech pilot

This is a weekly invitation program for qualified candidates who have a valid job offer in one of 29 eligible occupations. Most applications will be processed within 2-3 months. From May 2017, the program has supported over 4,200 tech workers to be nominated for permanent residence. The BC PNP Tech Pilot key features are based on service, timeliness, prioritization, and engagement in response to the needs of the industry. The pilot extended until June 2021.

List of 29 eligible Occupations for the BC PNP Tech pilot:

3/ Start-up Visa

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that:

  • are innovative
  • can create jobs for Canadians
  • can compete on a global scale.

The program has a processing time from 12 to 16 months. Successful candidates should be endorsed by a designated organization such as an angel investor, venture capital firm, or business incubator to support the entrepreneur to succeed when they come to Canada.

4/ Global Talent Stream

The Global Talent Stream offers timely, responsive, and predictable client-focused service to help you access highly skilled global talent to expand your workforce here in Canada and to be competitive on a global scale. This Stream, which is a part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, is designed for innovative firms in Canada that are referred to Employment and Social Development Canada by a designated referral partner and that need unique and specialized foreign nationals in order to scale-up and grow. It is also intended for firms in Canada that need to fill an in-demand highly-skilled position on the Global Talent Occupations List.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canada skilled immigration programs