05 July 2010

Canadian Visa rules could hamper media industry

Changes to federal legislation slated for this fall could place the growing creative media industries in Canada in jeopardy, critics say.

Canadian Visa

Upcoming Canadian Visa changes could affect the creative digital media industry.

Since the late 1990s, high-tech companies have been able to bring in key talent by using a Canadian Visa federal IT (information technology) worker category. This Canadian Visa category allowed businesses to put teams together quickly for projects, and this has increasingly made the country attractive to creative tech companies as a base for development.

Vancouver in particular has become a creative, digital hub with the arrival this year of Pixar and Digital Domain, the company behind Academy Award-winning films such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Both companies are putting together large studios and hiring local staff, and there are hopes that other companies will follow suit.

The Canadian Immigration department is eliminating this Canadian Visa category at the end of September, which has been a concern to not only the digital media, gaming and visual effects industry in Vancouver but Vancouver city hall which been working to pitch the city as a place where these global companies should move.

There are concerns that these Canadian Visa changes will hinder the growth of the emerging digital industry and affect the local economy.

 Without the IT category, Pixar, Digital Domain, Ubisoft and the like will, starting in October, have to apply for temporary Canadian work visas the way every other company in any industry does provided the occupation is not listed on the Canadian Priority Occupation List.

On the Priority Occupation List are occupations deemed in high demand such as Restaurant and Food Service Managers, Licensed Practical Nurses, Industrical Electricians and Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists to name a few.  

The changes will require tech companies to seek a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Ottawa's Service Canada department and demonstrating that a position meets wage guidelines, brings new skills and knowledge, and does not adversely affect the employment of a Canadian worker – a process which can take much longer than the current route.

The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for a Canadian Visa with the Canadian Embassy.   

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