Immigration policies and talent visas for software developers

talent visas for software developers

Recently, we talked about countries with the highest salaries for IT specialists and the tax ranges you should expect in different states. If the numbers we mentioned became yet another reason that pushes you towards relocation, check out our new article about immigration policies for tech talent in countries worldwide. 


  • USA: H-1B visa program and O-1 visa
  • Canada: Global Talent Stream program
  • The Express Entry system
  • European Union: EU Blue Card program
  • Germany: Job Seeker program
  • Australia: Subclass 189 and Subclass 190 visas
  • The United Kingdom: The Tech National Visa
  • Singapore: Employment Pass and Tech.Pass
  • Japan: Specified Skilled Worker visa
  • Israel: B-1 Work Visa and HIT Visa

Here, we gathered countries that have the highest demand for software engineers and offer their new residents the best work and life conditions.  Since living in these countries provides multiple benefits, like high salaries, high standards of living, good medicine, and public education (which are all countries’ assets accumulated by the hard work of its citizens), the applicants should meet quite selective criteria to get the visa.

Look at immigration programs and visas provided by the USA, Canada, and EU countries, namely Germany, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, and Singapore, to software developers and technical talents worldwide.

USA: H-1B visa program and O-1 visa

The United States of America, for many years, has been considered the best country for IT professionals to migrate. Apart from high living standards, the USA has the highest salaries for software developers worldwide (right after Switzerland) and a startup-friendly business environment. 

Designed to allow U.S. employers to hire foreign talent in specialized sectors, the H-1B visa program is an excellent opportunity for software engineers with a job offer. You must meet these main criteria to qualify for the H-1B:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher (or equivalent) in a relevant field such as computer science or software engineering.
  • A job offer from a U.S. employer requiring specialized knowledge and software development expertise.
  • You or your employer must demonstrate that your role is a specialty occupation requiring specialized knowledge and skills that can only be performed by professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree.

H-1B visa USA

Application process

  • Employer’s petition. Your future employer in the U.S. must file a petition on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The employer must demonstrate that the position requires specialized knowledge and that you meet the qualifications.
  • Labor condition application (LCA). The employer must also obtain an LCA from the U.S. Department of Labor, certifying that they will pay you the prevailing wage for the position and meet labor standards in the industry.
  • USCIS filing. Once the petition is approved, you can submit the required forms and supporting documents to the USCIS for your visa application. This includes Form I-129, the H Classification Supplement, and other necessary paperwork.

Processing time

It typically takes several months from the time the petition is submitted to the USCIS until a decision on your visa is made. The processing times can be subject to change and can be affected by factors such as the USCIS workload and policy changes.

Chances of obtaining the visa

The H-1B visa program has an annual cap on the number of available visas, which is set at 85,000 (including both regular and advanced degree caps). This limit often results in more applicants than available visas, creating a competitive process. The chances of obtaining an H-1B visa depend on the demand for visas, the qualifications of the applicant, and the quality of the employer’s petition. USCIS employs a random selection process (lottery) if the number of applications exceeds the cap.

O-1 visa

If you’re planning to stay in the US only for several years or don’t have a job offer from a US employer, consider obtaining an O-1 visa. This non-immigrant visa category is designed for individuals with extraordinary abilities in their field, including software development.

To qualify for an O-1 visa, you need to demonstrate extraordinary ability in your field. You can achieve this by meeting at least three of the following criteria:

  1. Receiving nationally or internationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence in your field.
  2. Being a member of associations or organizations that require outstanding achievements as criteria for membership.
  3. Publishing material about your work in professional or major trade publications.
  4. Serving as a judge of the work of others in your field.
  5. Making original contributions of major significance to the field.
  6. Writing scholarly articles in professional journals or major media outlets.
  7. Having a high salary or remuneration in relation to others in the field.

Application process

  • Consultation. Before applying, secure a written advisory opinion from a recognized expert or a peer group in your field, verifying your extraordinary ability and the nature of your work.
  • USCIS petition. Your employer or an agent acting on your behalf must file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request an O-1 visa. The petition must include evidence of your extraordinary ability and a detailed itinerary of the events or projects you’ll be involved in.
  • Application submission. Once the petition is approved, you can apply for the O-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. You will need to provide supporting documents, including your passport, visa application forms, and evidence of your extraordinary ability.

Chances of obtaining the visa

The chances of getting an O-1 visa are quite high (80% to 95% for the last decade). However, the standard for demonstrating extraordinary ability is also rising. The diagram below shows that the request for evidence (RFE) cases are also increasing every year.


Canada: Global Talent Stream program

As one of the largest economies, Canada also requires highly skilled foreign workers in certain occupations, including software development. To headhunt the best employees, the Canadian Government provided the Global Talent Stream program that helps people with a job offer from a Canadian company become their new citizens.


To qualify for the Global Talent Stream as a software developer, (1) your occupation must fall under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code 2174 – computer programmers and interactive media developers and (2) you must have a job offer from a Canadian employer that has been approved under the Global Talent Stream.

Application process

  • Employer’s application. Your employer in Canada must submit an application to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to seek approval for the job offer under the Global Talent Stream.
  • Labor market benefits plan (LMBP). The employer must develop an LMBP that outlines the investments and commitments they will make to enhance the Canadian labor market.
  • Work permit application. Once the employer’s application is approved, you can apply for a work permit through Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You will need to submit the required forms and supporting documents, including the approved job offer.


The cost of applying for a work permit under the Global Talent Stream includes several components, e.g.,

  • Employer compliance fee. The employer is required to pay a fee of CAD 230 as part of the Labor Market Benefits Plan.
  • Work permit application fee. As an applicant, you will need to pay the applicable work permit processing fee, which is currently CAD 155.
  • Biometrics fee. Depending on your country of residence, you may be required to provide biometrics as part of the application process. The biometrics fee is CAD 85.

canada global talent stream

The Express Entry system

While the Global Talent Stream program falls under the Express Entry system, the application process for the Global Talent Stream program is distinct from the typical Express Entry process. The Global Talent Stream program offers an accelerated pathway for certain highly skilled workers, including software developers, to obtain work permits in Canada. However, it does not automatically guarantee permanent residency. 

If you want a permanent residency, you may need to explore other pathways within the Express Entry system, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class, after gaining work experience in Canada through the Global Talent Stream program.

European Union: EU Blue Card program

Whatever country in the European Union you choose, you can apply for a visa there by following the European Union Blue Card program. It is a work and residence permit designed to attract highly skilled non-EU employees to work in EU member states.


Check out the main requirements you need to meet to qualify for an EU Blue Card:

  • Hold a university degree or equivalent qualification.
  • Have a valid job offer or employment contract in an EU member state for at least one year.
  • The offered salary should meet the minimum salary threshold defined by the respective member state.
  • Have relevant professional experience or skills that match the job requirements.
  • Fulfill any additional criteria specific to the member state you are applying to.

The application process can vary depending on the EU member state you want to live in, but in every case, it is an employer who initiates the process by applying for a work permit or residence permit on your behalf. They need to provide supporting documents, such as the job offer, employment contract, and evidence of meeting the salary requirements. After that, you will have to provide documents, including your passport, proof of education and qualifications, employment contract, and proof of professional experience.

Germany: Job Seeker program

As Germany is one of the most innovative and technological countries in the EU with one of the largest economies in the world, it constantly requires skilled software engineers and other IT specialists. The Job Seeker program allows individuals to enter the country for a limited period to search for employment opportunities.

To be eligible for the Job Seeker program, you generally need to meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a recognized university degree or equivalent qualification related to software development.
  • Have a minimum of five years of professional experience in the field of software development.
  • Sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Germany without relying on public funds.
  • Hold valid health insurance coverage.

Cost. The cost of a Job Seeker visa application can vary based on the embassy or consulate. Generally, you will need to pay a visa fee, which typically ranges from around €75 to €150. Check the specific fee amount with the embassy or consulate where you plan to apply.

Nota bene! The Job Seeker visa is a temporary visa that allows you to stay in Germany for up to six months to search for a job. Once you secure employment, you would need to apply for a work visa or residence permit to continue working and residing in Germany.

Australia: Subclass 189 and Subclass 190 visas

Australia offers two popular visa options for software developers: Subclass 189 (Skilled Independent Visa) and Subclass 190 (Skilled Nominated Visa). 

Subclass 189 is a points-based visa that allows skilled workers to live and work in Australia permanently.

  • No nomination or sponsorship is required.
  • Independent eligibility is based on meeting the points threshold and having a relevant occupation.
  • Software development (ANZSCO code 2613) is included in the occupation list for this visa.

Subclass 190 is also a points-based visa, but it requires nomination by an Australian state or territory government.

Application process

  • Skill assessment. Before applying, you need to obtain a positive skill assessment from the relevant assessing authority for software developers. This assessment confirms that your qualifications and work experience meet Australian standards.
  • Expression of Interest (EOI). Submit an EOI through the online SkillSelect system, indicating your interest in either Subclass 189 or Subclass 190. Provide details of your skills, work experience, education, and language proficiency. Based on your points, you may receive an invitation to apply.
  • Visa application. If you receive an invitation, you can proceed to lodge a formal visa application. You will need to provide supporting documents, including identity documents, skill assessment results, English language test results, and health and character documents.

The current processing times can range from several months to over a year.

Cost. Apart from visa fees, there may be additional costs for medical examinations, police checks, and English language testing.

If you’re sure of your qualification and want to obtain a visa within weeks and not years, pay attention to the Global Talent Independent program. It is a streamlined visa pathway designed to attract highly skilled and talented individuals from around the world to contribute to Australia’s innovation and technology sectors. To be eligible for the Global Talent Independent program, you must demonstrate exceptional and internationally recognized achievements in one of the seven target sectors:

  • AgTech
  • Space and advanced manufacturing
  • FinTech
  • Energy and mining technology
  • MedTech
  • Cyber security
  • Quantum information, advanced digital, data science, and ICT

Australia focus sectors and technologies

Image: GTI Australia focus sectors and technologies 

The United Kingdom: The Tech Nation Visa

The Tech Nation Visa is a category of visa designed to attract exceptionally talented individuals in the field of technology to work and live in the United Kingdom. It is part of the UK’s Global Talent visa route and is administered by Tech Nation, a designated endorsing body for the visa.


To be eligible for the Tech Nation Visa, you must demonstrate exceptional talent or promise in the field of technology. The visa is open to established tech professionals and promising individuals in the early stages of their careers. The eligibility criteria include the following:

Exceptional talent

  • You must be an established leader or potential leader in the field of technology.
  • You should have made significant contributions to the industry and be recognized as a leading talent.
  • You must provide evidence of your achievements, such as awards, patents, publications, or media coverage.

Exceptional promise

  • You must demonstrate the potential to become a future leader in the field of technology.
  • You should show evidence of your skills, achievements, and potential for future contributions.
  • You must provide recommendations and supporting letters from recognized experts in the tech industry.

Singapore: Employment Pass and Tech.Pass

The Singapore Employment Pass (EP) is a work visa that allows foreign professionals, managers, executives, and technical personnel to work in Singapore. It is one of the main work passes issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore. To be eligible for the Singapore Employment Pass, you must have a job offer from a Singapore-based company. The company must be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Apart from that, you should have a minimum fixed monthly salary of at least SGD 4,500 ($3,400 as of June 2023). Higher salaries are typically required for more experienced and senior-level positions.

The processing time for the Singapore Employment Pass usually takes between one to three weeks from the date of application submission.

Tech.Pass is another program introduced by the Singaporean government to attract top foreign tech professionals and entrepreneurs to contribute to Singapore’s vibrant tech ecosystem. It is designed to attract individuals with significant expertise and experience in specific technology-related fields.

Tech.Pass key features

  • Flexibility. Tech.Pass offers greater flexibility compared to traditional work passes. It allows holders to take up employment, start and operate businesses, or serve on the board of directors of Singaporean companies.
  • Duration and renewal. Tech.Pass is initially valid for two years, with a chance for renewal for another two years, subject to review. Renewal will depend on the individual’s contributions to Singapore’s tech ecosystem.
  • Dependent privileges. Tech.Pass holders are eligible to bring their spouse, children, and parents to Singapore on dependent visas, subject to prevailing immigration rules.

Japan: Specified Skilled Worker visa

The Specified Skilled Worker visa is a program introduced by the Japanese government to address labor shortages in certain industries and to facilitate the entry of foreign workers with specific skills and expertise. It allows skilled workers from overseas to work in Japan for a particular period.


  • Skills and experience. You should possess specific skills and expertise required in designated industries in Japan.
  • Japanese language proficiency. Depending on the job category, you may be required to demonstrate a certain level of Japanese language proficiency. This ensures effective communication and integration into the Japanese work environment.
  • Training and certification. In some cases, you may need to complete training programs or obtain relevant certifications to qualify for the visa.
  • Job offer. You must have a job offer from a Japanese employer that is registered with the relevant authorities and has obtained a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) on your behalf.

Duration and renewal. The initial duration of the Specified Skilled Worker visa typically ranges from one to five years. After the initial period, the visa can be renewed if you continue to meet the eligibility criteria and have ongoing employment.

Israel: B-1 Work Visa and HIT Visa

Israel offers several working visa options for software developers and tech professionals. The main types of work visas available are the B-1 Work Visa and the Hi-Tech (HIT) Visa.

The B-1 Work Visa is a general work visa available for foreigners seeking employment in Israel. Software developers can apply for this visa if they have a job offer from an Israeli employer. 

Duration and renewal. The B-1 Work Visa is typically valid for up to one year. It can be renewed annually as long as you continue to meet the employment requirements and have a valid job offer.

The Hi-Tech (HIT) Visa is a work visa designed for highly skilled professionals in the field of technology. It offers certain benefits and streamlined procedures for eligible individuals. To qualify for this visa, you must meet specific criteria related to your skills and have a job offer from an Israeli company recognized as a “Hi-Tech Company” by the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA).

Duration and renewal. HIT visa is typically valid for up to five years.


Check out our latest article to get an immigration road map and a list of the pros and cons of relocation. If the only reason you think about immigration is the search for international projects, check out positions opened by our clients – startups and enterprises from the EU, Israel, and the USA.  

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