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January 31, 2024

IRCC clarifies requirements for foreign nationals coming to Canada as digital nomads

In a policy announcement published on January 30, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has clarified certain details of interest to foreign nationals looking to work in Canada as digital nomads.

According to IRCC, a digital nomad is a person “who can perform their job remotely from anywhere in the world.”

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IRCC also notes that digital nomads are those who “only need visitor status to relocate to Canada for up to 6 months at a time while they perform their job remotely” and that digital nomads may be either performing work “for a foreign employer … [be] self-employed, working for themselves or providing services to clients outside of Canada.”

Can digital nomads apply for a work permit?

IRCC says that foreign nationals may initially come to Canada to work remotely as a digital nomad with a visitor visa, but they are permitted to seek a work permit “if they find a Canadian employer after entry.”

IRCC also notes that “if a [digital nomad declares their] intention to find a Canadian employer, they should be counselled that a work permit will be needed before starting work for such an employer.”

Finally, as indicated by the policy announcement, “should the digital nomad find a Canadian employer willing to hire them, they would need to apply for a work permit.”

Do I need any additional documentation to enter Canada as a digital nomad?

Foreign nationals entering Canada with visitor status to be a digital nomad do not require any additional documentation, “although they must still satisfy the officer that they will leave at the end of their authorized stay.”

Can family members of a digital nomad work or study in Canada?

According to IRCC’s January 30 policy announcement, family members of digital nomads who intend to work or study in Canada can do so and should apply for a work permit or study permit.

Canada’s tech talent strategy

On June 27 last year, IRCC announced a tech talent strategy intended to help “attract global tech talent to Canada.” This is because attracting such talent to Canada is vital given the importance of the tech sector to the Canadian economy.

In addition to positioning Canada as an attractive destination for digital nomads, the Strategy included several measures such as a new innovation stream under the International Mobility Program (IMP). This stream was anticipated at the end of 2023 but has yet to be announced.

IRCC said the innovation stream will be exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process. This aims to assist employers and workers to support Canada’s priorities for the tech industry.

Further, IRCC introduced a streamlined work permit for H1-B speciality occupation visa holders. The cap of 10,000 permits for the year was reached on July 16, 2023.

The department also said it would make improvements to existing tech programs such as the Global Skills Strategy. Through the Global Skills Strategy, Canadian employers who hire foreign workers in specific information technology roles are eligible for expedited processing of their LMIA.

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