Canadian Consulting Engineer

Welcoming foreign engineers to Canada

April 16, 2024
By Omar Kaywan


Photo by CHINAFACE / E+, licensed from Getty Images.

Late last year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officially ended its Express Entry pause, so as to help fill employment slots in key sectors, including engineering. The federal government sees an urgent need for workers in specific sectors to help the country grow and succeed. With a shortage of skilled labour within Canada, there is opportunity for firms to hire foreign workers to spur economic growth with quality jobs.

Engineers are in demand throughout most provinces, especially British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. According to a labour market report, Canada’s economy needed to fill more than 44,000 engineering jobs between 2020 and 2024, spanning 14 different fields. This is why the opportunity for foreign workers to enter the workforce in Canada is so important.

Currently, Canada welcomes around 500,000 new immigrants every year—one of the highest rates per population of any country. According to the federal ministry of immigration, refugees and citizenship, almost 100% of domestic labour force growth can be attributed to immigrants. By 2036, immigrants are expected to comprise about 30% of the country’s population.

There are already multiple programs in place—including the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FWSP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)—that can work specifically to place foreign workers in engineering jobs throughout the country, but it can be confusing to navigate the requirements. Even with the Express Entry pause ended, it can take longer than workers and companies would prefer, if they don’t have everything in place.

Consulting engineering firms looking to attract and hire these foreign workers can help make the process easier by educating themselves and their prospective hires on the requirements they must meet for Express Entry, such as finding affordable options for health-care insurance coverage.

Another factor employers should consider when recruiting immigrant workers is the appeal of bringing their extended families with them. The super visa program allows citizens’ and permanent residents’ parents and grandparents from other countries to visit them in Canada. Educating foreign workers on this program can be helpful in attracting them as immigrant employees.

IRCC issues approximately 17,000 super visas each year. The program offers multiple entries to eligible applicants for up to 10 years, with an authorized stay for each individual entry for up to five years. Looking ahead, IRCC plans to issue up to 36,000 super visas each year under a family immigration plan.

Insurance and super visas

Foreign workers are often eligible for provincial health-care coverage. Many provinces implement a waiting period, however, before the coverage can come into effect. Employers must obtain and pay for this coverage, with no financial impact to employees.

For family members applying for super visas, there are requirements that must be met before obtaining entry into Canada, including a letter of invitation, income testing, health insurance and proof the host is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or registered Indian.

Insurance must be from a Canadian provider and cover health care, hospitalization and repatriation for a minimum of one year for super visa applications. Health insurance plans can be expensive, especially when trying to meet requirements for older super visa applicants.

The minimum coverage requirement for super visas is $100,000, but given the high cost of health care in Canada and the age of the applicant, who may not be in optimal health, it may well save money in the long run to consider a higher coverage limit.

The application process

While the application process might seem intimidating, with different factors and situations that affect what type of proof and documents visiting family members will need to provide, it is really quite simple.

Families first need to receive an invite code and then can begin by creating an account on IRCC’s web portal. From there, they complete a form, upload their required documents and pay online.

The time it takes for new applications to be processed varies, depending on the country where the extended family members are coming from, but generally will be between two and six months.

After applying, the family members may have to be interviewed by officials, get a medical exam or complete other tasks before being allowed entry into Canada. If their application is approved, they will receive a letter with instructions on submitting their passport. If it is refused, they will receive a letter explaining why.

Reuniting families

After staying in Canada for their allowable amount of time, extended family must wait six months before returning again. So, once their first super visa expires, they must be outside Canada when they reapply from scratch. Having been approved previously can increase the chances of getting approved again, but health insurance will be required prior to the issuing of a new super visa.

The super visa is a great way for aged family members to visit from other countries for long periods. While immigrant workers need to undergo the Express Entry process, the super visa program will make the move more appealing for many of them, thus helping to fill the tens of thousands of jobs Canada needs in the very near future.

Omar Kaywan is co-founder of and chief growth and operating officer at Vancouver-based Goose Insurance. For more information, visit This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer.


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