The Waterloo Region of Ontario is a tech hub and attracts a lot of global talent.
Every two years, the Waterloo Region conducts a survey of immigrants, refugees, international students, temporary workers, and their families to gain insight into their experiences settling into the Waterloo region after moving to Canada.

The survey provides a snapshot of the contributions newcomers make to the region, as well as the struggles and difficulties that they face and their suggestions on what can be improved.

This year, some 1,500 participants took part in providing feedback. This includes new arrivals, as well as those who have been in Canada for up to five years.

Waterloo is a top destination for tech talent

Waterloo is a hub for startups and tech talent as the area boasts nearly 1,600 tech-related businesses. The Waterloo Region also has the highest concentration of the Information Technology and Analytical Instruments sector in Canada, based on population.

Over 90% of people surveyed reported choosing to settle in the Waterloo Region because they already had family and friends in the area. A high percentage also came because of the reputation of local post-secondary institutions and job offers.

Challenges and solutions

The study found that most newcomers who arrive in the region are more highly educated than the overall population of Waterloo. However, only 51% of respondents reported working in an occupation that required the same skill level or experience as their previous job. Some reported challenges finding employment and affordable housing while others cited making social connections as the biggest hurdle to settling.

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Overall, half of the respondents reported being quite satisfied with their lives and said they had a positive experience settling in the Waterloo Region. Still, they recommend more support in finding work as educating employers on the value of hiring, retaining and promoting newcomers to Canada.

Permanent residence pathways for tech workers

Express Entry

Candidates with tech backgrounds are the leading recipients of permanent residence invitations under Express Entry programs.

Express Entry is an application management system that can expedite applications for skilled workers. The most prominent Express Entry pathway is the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). The FSWP is for candidates with at least one year of work experience that falls under National Occupational Codes (NOC) 0, A or B, as most tech sector jobs do.

Alternatively, candidates who have completed one year of work experience in Canada in the past three years may be eligible for Express Entry through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.

Express Entry is a two-step process:

Candidates must self-assess if they are eligible for the program they wish to apply for.
If they are eligible, they can create a profile on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. IRCC will then assign a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score which is based on work experience, education, language abilities and other human capital factors. The higher a candidate scores, the more likely they are to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
IRCC holds draws approximately every two weeks. If a candidate receives an ITA, they have 60 days to submit their final application to IRCC. Once a permanent residence application is submitted, IRCC aims to have it processed within six months.

Changes to Express Entry may come in 2023

Under the current Express Entry system, tech jobs are the NOCs that most often receive ITAs. IRCC has recently stated that in early 2023, it may begin to hold invitation draws based on work experience criteria rather than the CRS to ensure invitations are issued to those who can fill critical gaps in Canada’s labor market.

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