Immigration to Canada for programmers and IT-specialists

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Rating: 4.9/5 (voted 835)

Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 19 April 2024 9 minutes read
The programmer is preparing to work in Canada

Working as a programmer in Canada is one of the most promising ways to move to the country and obtain permanent residence permit. The number of available jobs on employment websites shows the demand for information technology professionals in the Canadian labor market. According to the Job Bank (national employment service), programmers in Canada earn from 23 to 57.69 USD per hour in 2020. Foreigners with the appropriate education and experience can find a job in Canadian companies through participation in one of the immigration programs provided by law.

The salary of programmers in Canada

The average salary for an IT professional employed in Canada is 77,000 CAD per year, without tax. It depends on the specific profession, level and experience, and can vary across cities in Canada.

The salary level of a developer by region:

City Maximum salary per year, C$ Minimum salary per year, C$
Toronto 176000 51000
Calgary 170000 38000
Vancouver 175000 48000
Montreal 130000 37000
Ottawa 220000 60000
Quebec 125000 37000
Halifax 120000 46000
Edmonton 180000 37000

Average salary among IT professionals in Canada:

Specialty Average salary per year, C$
Front End developer 82000
Business Systems Analyst 72000
Data Analyst 76000
Senior software engineer 102000
IT Support 49000
Web Developer 67000
Graphic Designer 58000
Test Engineer 74000

Some companies in Canada offer contract work for foreign specialists at hourly wages. Depending on qualifications, experience and professional skills 1c, php or swift developers can get from 20 to 75 CAD per hour. The contract type of payment does not include vacation, sick leave and health insurance, as opposed to permanent employment.

What IT professions are in demand in Canada

According to the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Resource Centre, there were more than 1 million vacancies in early September 2021, with more than 65,000 of them in the technical services field. Programmers in Canada are in demand, especially in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

With the start of the worldwide pandemic, the number of jobs for IT professionals has grown by about 35% and continues to grow. This is due to the increased popularity of online sales and the growing demand for information products and services.

The following IT professionals are in high demand in Canada:

  • program manager;
  • information systems analyst;
  • senior software engineer;
  • full stack developer;
  • Illustrators, graphic designers;
  • penetration tester;
  • web developer.

Immigrants from CIS countries are not always approved for the position that they held in the company of their home country. For example, in a Canadian IT company, a senior developer is more likely to take a middle position. To avoid such a situation, it is recommended to start working with a Canadian firm remotely before you immigrate.

Requirements for IT immigrants

The initial selection of applications is made on the basis of the applicant’s resume, which includes education, experience and professional skills. The candidate for the position will have to undergo several interviews by phone or videoconference. In addition, he/she may be asked to fill out questionnaires and application forms and take technical tests to gather more information.

Communicating with applicants, the employer or recruiter evaluates their soft skills, such as sociability, ability to work in a team, positive thinking and creativity. In contrast to IT-companies in the CIS countries, Canadians value communication skills sometimes higher than professional skills. An employee with an impeccable resume and knowledge may be fired, if he/she has difficulty adapting to a team and is not used to teamwork.

If you wish to participate in one of the skilled worker immigration programs, you must have your diploma evaluated. The Educational credential assessment (ECA) can be done at one of the authorized organizations, such as World Education Services or the International Credential Assessment Service of Canada. You must be proficient in English or French to be considered for an interview with one of these programs. There must be enough knowledge to communicate with your colleagues, understand the nature of the assignment, and be able to discuss technical questions.

Employers value the Canadian experience of applicants for a job. If an immigrant has worked for one of the local companies, it would be an additional plus for consideration of the resume. Completion of Canadian professional courses and training in the specialty will also be helpful, as it shows the commitment and desire of the applicant to achieve growth in the chosen field of work.

Job interview in Canada as a programmer

Canadian immigration programs for programmers and other IT workers

A skilled worker can obtain permanent residence through one of the government’s provincial or federal programs. In order to select applications for immigration to Canada, there is an electronic system called Express Entry, which evaluates candidates according to a number of criteria and assigns a specific score. Any foreigner can register with it.

Criteria by which potential immigrants are evaluated:

  • Education. A foreign specialist diploma must be validated in Canada by comparing curricula and educational qualifications.
  • Work experience. Professionals with a minimum specified length of experience in their chosen position are eligible to participate in the programs.
  • National language proficiency. English (IELTS / CELPIP certification) or French (TEF) must be confirmed. The better the test, the higher the score on the overall grade.
  • Age. Older workers receive fewer points than younger professionals.
  • Job offer. An offer is a government permit for an alien to be employed by a Canadian employer, which adds extra points to the overall score.

General procedure for immigration to Canada as an IT specialist:

  1. Choose a relocation program. The immigrant-to-be should read the eligibility requirements for each program and choose the one that’s right for them. To do this, you will need to check your eligibility.
  2. Prepare the documents. You must take the language test to receive a certificate, pass an educational evaluation, get a criminal record certificate, undergo a physical exam and submit the results, and gather other documents that will confirm your eligibility for Express Entry.
  3. Submit a profile to Express Entry. You need to create a profile in the system, enter all your information, and fill out the application form to receive points on your overall ranking.
  4. Apply for permanent residence permit. Applicants with the highest scores will be asked to complete the Permanent Residency application within 60 days.

Federal Skilled Worker

This immigration program has been providing the Canadian labour market with skilled workers, who are selected through the Express Entry system, since 1967. Federal Skilled Worker eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • a knowledge of the national language at least CLB 7;
  • a minimum of one year of uninterrupted work in an occupation within the past 10 years;
  • higher education degree;
  • have enough money to support yourself and your family for six months after you move.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

All Canadian provinces and territories, except Nunavut and Quebec, offer immigration programs for skilled workers under the PNP. By applying to a particular province, the applicant can receive support or a job offer from that province. Compared to the Federal Skilled Worker program, a Provincial Nominee Program participant can get a job in the country and obtain a permanent residence permit with much lower points.

For example, the Ontario OINP Tech Draw program seeks the following skilled tradesperson with at least a year of experience:

  • software developers;
  • programmers for interactive media;
  • information systems managers;
  • database analysts;
  • web designers.

Global Talent Stream

Under this program, a foreigner is granted the right to work in Canada without the possibility of obtaining permanent residence. It is much easier for an employer to obtain permission to hire a foreign employee than to request permanent residence for them, so the time for processing documents for employment through Global Talent Stream is much shorter than for other programs.

At the same time, the immigrant’s application remains in Express Entry, and the experience in a Canadian company adds points to the overall ranking. An alien with work experience at a Canadian firm can qualify for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class.

Canadian Experience Class

Foreign nationals, who are in Canada on a work or student visa, can work in their specialty in the country. An internship or full-time job with a Canadian company makes eligible for permanent residency even those immigrants who do not qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker program.

Requirements for applicants:

  • students – a student visa, a diploma from a Canadian university or college, at least one year of work experience;
  • workers – valid work visa, knowledge of English/French language, at least 2 years of experience.

Canadian Experience Class is not valid in Quebec. This province has a separate immigration program that provides it with skilled workers from abroad.

Would it be worth it for a programmer to move to Canada

Those who dream of living in a developed, secure country with the opportunity to have a substantial pension and a secure future, should consider immigrating to Canada. The advantages of moving to Canada for IT professionals include affordable government programs, through which they can get a well-paid job in the state and a permanent residence permit. High standard of living, good ecology and decent wages explain the growth of emigration of programmers from CIS countries, who are ready to immigrate to Canada with their families.

Unfortunately, it is not easy for entry-level specialists, who do not have enough experience and professional skills, to find a job in Canada. Junior developers can rarely compete with graduates of local universities. Canadian employers are focused on getting a qualified professional in the person of a foreigner, so they give preference to specialists of middle and senior levels. The specifics of the IT sphere allow finding a remote job in any company in the world, even at the junior level.

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