What is the change? The Canadian government this week announced a new Global Skills Strategy that will aim to reduce visa and work permit processing times to no more than two weeks. The government also said it will waive work authorization requirements for some short-term assignments.

What does the change mean? When implemented, the changes could significantly reduce visa processing times and reduce administrative requirements for many foreign nationals traveling to Canada for short-term work.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals traveling to Canada on a visa, applying to obtain a work permit or coming to Canada for short-term work assignments (under 30 days in a year).
  • Impact on the processing times: The change could significantly reduce visa and work permit processing times and would save the time it takes to obtain a work permit in situations where the short-term work permit exemption applies.
  • Business impact: Officials hope the change will contribute to a healthier business climate and stronger overall economy.
  • Next steps: Few implementation details have been made available at this point, but the program is expected to be implemented by spring of 2017.

Background: The Global Skills Strategy was announced in Canada’s Fall Economic Statement 2016, which was released Monday and aimed in part to address the problems the Canadian government says it has had in providing speedy permit processing.

“In too many cases, long processing times for work permits make it difficult for Canadian businesses to attract the talent they need to succeed,” the statement said. “Whether it’s to bring in staff to help train Canadian workers or bring new, international experiences to Canadian companies, once here, these talented workers can drive innovation and help Canadian firms to grow and prosper – leading to more jobs for Canada’s middle class and a stronger economy for all.”

The statement said work permit requirements will be waived for “work terms of fewer than 30 days in a year” in order “to facilitate short-term, inter-company work exchanges, study exchanges, or the entrance of temporary expertise.”

BAL Analysis: While the changes announced this week are welcome news, few details on how they will be implemented were provided. Once more information is provided, it should become clearer how significant the benefits may be.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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