Easing the legal admission of professionals, business persons, and skilled workers


The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

The Government of Canada has implemented new cross-border employment provisions under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. Under CETA, new provisions for work in Canada are enacted for the following categories:

1. Business Visitors;
2. Business Visitors for Investment Purposes;
3. Investors;
4. Independent Professionals;
5. Contractual Service Providers;
6. Intra-Corporate Transferees;
7. Spouses of Intra-Corporate Transferees.


Business Visitors and Business Visitors for Investment Purposes

Although CETA defines new categories of Business Visitors, candidates will be assessed first under existing Business Visitor legislation, which could be more favourable in some cases. CETA Business Visitors will be limited to admission for a period of 90 days in any given six-month period, assuming that eligibility under the existing legislation does not apply.

CETA Business Visitors are admissible for specific activities, as follows:

– Attendance of meetings or conferences or engaging in consultations with business associates;
– Independent technical, scientific, or statistical research, or such research for an enterprise located in the EU;
– Market research or analysis for an enterprise located in the EU;
– Receiving training in techniques and work practices from Canadians, which is limited to observation, familiarization, and classroom instruction;
– Promotion of an EU company’s products or services at a Canadian trade fair or exhibition;
– Negotiating a sale or taking for products or services from an EU company to a Canadian company (but not the general public) without engaging in delivery of the product;
– Purchasing goods or services from a Canadian enterprise;
– Specialized workers engaged in the installation of commercial or industrial equipment or software, or engaged in repair or maintenance of such equipment or software, pursuant to an agreement of sale or the original sale warranty;
– Management/supervisory personnel or financial services personnel (including insurers, bankers, and investment brokers) from an EU enterprise engaging in a commercial transaction in Canada;
– Tourism personnel (agents, guides, operators) attending or participating in conventions, or leading a tour that commenced in the EU;
– Translators and interpreters carrying out these activities in Canada on behalf of an EU enterprise;
– Specialized or Managerial employees of an EU enterprise who is responsible for the establishment of a Canadian enterprise.

In all cases of CETA Business Visitors, the foreign individual is prohibited from engaging in sales or transactions with the Canadian general public or receiving remuneration directly or indirectly from a Canadian source. Provision of any service not specifically provided for in Annex 10-D of the agreement (i.e., a-k above), or the necessity to engage in the above tasks for greater than 90 days in a six-month period, may be subject to the requirement of a Canadian work permit.


An Investor is a EU citizen who is assigned to Canada in a supervisory or executive role to establish, develop, or administer a substantial financial investment that has been committed or is being committed. The criteria for Investor is based on the definitions presently applicable under NAFTA, meaning that the candidate must have actual or effective control of the investment, and the role in Canada must be to develop or direct the enterprise.

Under CETA, an Investor is limited to a one-year work permit, although renewal is viable if an official can be satisfied that the presence of the Investor in Canada remains a necessity. In many cases, where the investment in Canada relates to the establishment of a division, subsidiary, or affiliate of an EU enterprise, the provisions of intra-company transfer may prove more efficient than the CETA Investor category.

Independent Professionals and Contractual Service Providers

Independent professionals and contractual service providers must be citizens of an EU nation pursuing work in Canada as part of an executed agreement with a Canadian enterprise. Such individuals are eligible to seek a work permit for specific occupations outlined in the Concordance Table Annex (10-E) of CETA. Such work permits are limited to of a typical-maximum duration of 12 months in any given 24-month period (or the duration of the contract, whichever is less). Extension to this 12-month limitation may be granted on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of a Canadian immigration official.

Independent Professionals or Contractual Service Providers are required to possess a university degree or evidence of knowledge at an equivalent level (plus professional license or qualification where applicable). Certain engineering and scientific technologist occupations may be admissible in the absence of a university degree.

Unlike other Free Trade Agreements, in which eligible occupations are applicable to both independent and contractual service providers, CETA makes restrictions to some occupations depending on which category is applicable. Other criteria specific to Independent or Contractual Service Providers include:

1. The Contractual Service Provider must have been employed by the EU enterprise for a period of at least one year and must otherwise have three years of relevant professional experience prior to an application.
2. The Contractual Service Provider may only receive remuneration from the EU enterprise that is party to the agreement with the Canadian customer.
3. Independent Professionals must be supplying services to a Canadian customer on a self-employed basis and must have at least six years of relevant professional experience prior to an application.

Intra-Corporate Transferees and Spouses

It is important to distinguish between the provisions of Intra-Company Transferee which are described under the legislative provisions of Canadian Interests and Intra-Corporate Transferees. While the CETA provisions include new possibilities for employees of EU companies, the existing provisions of Intra-Company Transfer are broader in scope and permit for longer temporary residence in Canada.

CETA Intra-Corporate Transferees have been employed by (including partners of) the EU enterprise for at least one year,  and include temporary transfers to Canada for the following classes of applicant:

1. Senior Personnel: executives of the EU enterprise who carry out high level direction of the company with little or no management supervision.
2. Specialists: employees of the EU enterprise who possess both advanced expertise in his or her occupation and proprietary expertise regarding the operations of the employer.
3. Graduate Trainees: employees of the EU enterprise who are temporarily transferred to Canada for career development or to receive training in the methods or techniques of the employer.

Senior Personnel are eligible for work permits for a maximum of three years or the duration of the contract in Canada (whichever is less), with the possibility of extension for up to 18 months on a case by case basis at the discretion of the official. Graduate trainees are eligible for work permits of a maximum duration of 18 months or the duration of the contract (whichever is less) without the possibility of extension under the CETA provisions. In all cases, extension under other provisions can be considered.

Spouses of eligible intra-corporate transferees can seek open work permits for the same duration as the work permit of the principal foreign worker (with the exceptions of citizens of the UK or Denmark). Provisions for open work permits of highly skilled foreign workers also exist under the provisions of Canadian Interests and can be used instead of the CETA provisions if more favourable to the candidate and/or spouse.

Date Posted: September 26, 2017 Posted In: Business Visitor,International Mobility Program,Temporary Work Permits

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