Canadian Immigration Provisions In The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement

September 21, 2017 saw the most significant recent development in Canadian immigration. On that day the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union came into provisional force. While about 90% of CETA’s components have been immediately invoked, some remaining components await ratification from itinerant EU member states. These components generally concern the investor-state dispute mechanism,  are not expected to interfere with the implementation of the remaining agreement.

The ramifications of CETA for Canadian bound immigrants are to ease a more efficient process for qualifying European Union citizens to enter Canada on a temporary basis for business purposes. In particular, three key categories allow for Labour Market Impact Assessment exempt work permits to be issued under the International Mobility Program.

1, Investors

  • Investors for the purposes of CETA are business people who will take a supervisory or executive role in establishing, developing, or administering the operation of an investment or are employees of organizations that have committed or are in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital.
  • Work permits in this category are issued for one year. Extensions may be granted at the discretion of an immigration officer.

2. Contractual Service Suppliers and Independent Professionals

  • Contractual Service Suppliers are employees of organizations based in the EU who have contracts to supply services to Canadian consumers. The EU organization must be one that does not have an establishment in Canada.
  • Independent professionals are self-employed professionals who have a contract to supply a service to a Canadian consumer.
  • Work permits in this category will be issued for a cumulative period of up to 12 months in any 24-month period or for the duration of the contract, whichever is less.
  • Crucial exigencies for applicants in this category include a requirement to provide documentation evidencing the applicant prossessing the necessary professional qualifications required to practice the contracted service, and that these qualifications are practiced pursuant to the laws or requirements in the province or territory where the service is supplied.

3. Intracompany Transferees

  • Work permits will be permitted for specialists, senior personnel and graduate trainees within business organizations that operate in both EU states and Canada.
  • Senior Personnel are individuals with executive capacities who direct the management of the organization or a major component or function within it.
  • Specialists are professionals able to demonstrate that they have a high degree of both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise in their field.
  • Work permits in this category will be issued for three years, or the duration of the contract, whichever is less. Extensions for up to 18 months can be granted at the discretion of an immigration officer.
  • Graduate trainees will also be granted work permits in this category so that they may be temporarily transferred to Canada within the organization for career development purposes or to obtain specialized training in business techniques. The applicant must have a university degree.
  • Work permits for graduate trainees will be issued for 1 year, or the duration of the contract, whichever is less.

All extensions to work permits in permitted categories may be granted if the applicant is able to provide sufficient evidence that satisfies an immigration officer of the need to have their stay extended.

CETA also allows temporary entry for business visitors. At this time CETA do not appear to qualify for work permits, instead are granted temporary residence instead.

Business victors will be allowed entry to Canada in order to conduct business activities that do not engage directly in sales transactions, do not involve the receipt of remuneration inside Canada, and do not engage in the supply of services. Some exceptions include limited after-sales or after-lease services, such as installations and repairs.

Permissible business visitor activities include attending meetings and consultations, attending trade fairs, conducting training seminars, etc. It also allows business visitors to enter Canada for investment purposes to establish a commercial enterprise, as long as the visitors meet the above stated limitations for candidates in this category.

The significant consequence of CETA to Canadian immigration is to expand the number of categories under which temporary residence for economic purposes may be granted. It does not introduce any new programs for long-term or permanent immigration to Canada.

Kieran Verboven practices in the immigration group and is a member in good standing with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). Kieran received his Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, and has been an immigration practitioner since 2007.

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