Missed Canada’s H1-B OWP? Explore Your Options!

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Date: July 21, 2023

On July 16, 2023, Canada made headlines in the global immigration landscape by introducing an Open Work Permit (OWP) exclusively for H-1B visa holders. Within a mere two days of its launch, the OWP witnessed an overwhelming response, reaching its application limit of 10,000. As aspiring professionals scrambled to secure this unique opportunity, the Canadian government demonstrated its commitment to attracting skilled talent from around the world.

While the OWP application window may have closed, the good news for H-1B visa holders is that Canada still provides a range of alternative pathways for immigration. These pathways cater to diverse sectors and industries and offer exciting opportunities for those seeking temporary work and eventual permanent residency in Canada, without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

1. Global Talent Stream (GTS) for IT Sector Workers

The IT sector remains a pillar of growth and innovation in Canada, and the Global Talent Stream (GTS) presents an enticing avenue for H-1B visa holders with expertise in this field. Designed to fast-track the immigration process for skilled workers, the GTS allows Canadian employers to hire foreign talent in select IT occupations. The streamlined process significantly reduces the waiting period for work permits, enabling swift entry into the Canadian job market.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Valid job offer from a Canadian employer in a GTS-designated IT occupation.
  • Proven expertise and relevant work experience in the IT sector.


  • Accelerated processing of work permit applications.
  • No requirement for an LMIA.

2. Intra-Company Transfers (ICTs) for Multinational Employees

For H-1B visa holders employed by multinational companies with branches in Canada, the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) pathway offers an attractive option for temporary work opportunities. The ICT program facilitates the transfer of key employees from foreign branches to Canadian offices, fostering international collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Employment with a multinational company that has a presence in Canada.
  • Transfer to a Canadian branch in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge role.


  • Relatively straightforward process for eligible employees and employers.
  • No LMIA requirement, making it an appealing choice for intra-company mobility.

3. Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) for Mexican Citizens

As part of the Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), Mexican citizens employed by multinational firms in Canada can explore several temporary work categories. These categories include CUSMA Professionals, CUSMA ICTs, CUSMA Traders, and CUSMA Investors, each tailored to different types of skilled workers.

CUSMA Professionals:

  • Eligible for pre-arranged Canadian employment in specific professions such as engineering, medicine, and accounting.


  • Designed for employees temporarily working in Canada for US or Mexican companies.

CUSMA Traders:

  • Engage in trade activities between Canada and their home country.

CUSMA Investors:

  • Must make significant investments in Canadian businesses.


  • Specialized pathways for professionals in various industries.
  • Facilitates seamless mobility between Mexico, the US, and Canada.

H-1B visa holders involved in specific business-related activities can enter Canada as Business Visitors without requiring an LMIA. This category allows individuals to participate in short-term, non-remunerative business activities, such as attending conferences, negotiating deals, or conducting market research.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Activities must be short-term and non-remunerative.
  • The main place of business and source of income must remain outside Canada.


  • Easier entry for temporary business-related visits.
  • No LMIA requirement, making it a straightforward option for qualified applicants.

Canada’s commitment to attracting global talent and fostering economic growth is evident through these alternative pathways for H-1B visa holders. While the Open Work Permit (OWP) opportunity may have been temporary, these viable alternatives present exciting possibilities for skilled professionals looking to make Canada their new home.

As immigration policies and regulations may change over time, it is crucial to stay informed with the latest updates from official government sources. Before proceeding with any application, consulting with a qualified immigration professional will ensure that you meet specific eligibility criteria and understand the requirements for your chosen pathway.

Canada’s arms remain open to welcome skilled workers from across the globe, and these alternative pathways serve as bridges to new opportunities and promising futures. Take the next step in your journey towards a fulfilling career and a vibrant life in Canada!

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