International Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) contain provisions to facilitate, on a reciprocal basis, temporary entry for businesspersons. International Mobility Program (IMP) allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis without going through Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process.
Difference between Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program (IMP)
|Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)||International Mobility Program (IMP)|
|LMIA is required||No LMIA is required|
|Work Permit is employer specific (closed work permit)||Work Permit may be open or closed|
|The program is to fill the labour shortages on a temporary basis (Labour market-based)||The program objective is to advance the Canada’s broader economic and cultural interests|
|Based on specific labour needs (occupation and region)||Based partially on international reciprocal agreements (e.g., CUSMA, CETA, IEC etc.)|
|The program requires employers to search for Canadians before extending job offer to foreign worker||Employers may hire foreign national without first offering the position to Canadians|
|A transition plan is required to hire foreign nationals for high-wage positions||A transition plan is not required to hire foreign nationals for high-wage positions|
|Usually, employers are required to pay fee for LMIA application ($1,000).||Employer are required to pay compliance fee ($230) unless applicant holds an open work permit|
Canada-International Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) – formerly known as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
CUSMA facilitates temporary entry for businesspersons who are citizens of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada and who are involved in the trade of goods or services, or in investment activities. CUSMA abolish tariffs and other barriers to business conducted between the countries, which includes allowing citizens of each member country to have access to the others. Only citizens of the three member countries are qualified, and permanent residents are not included.
Workers and employers using the CUSMA program provisions are exempt from LMIA. Work Permit applications may be done at a Canadian Port of Entry or at a visa office, either online or on paper.
CUSMA applies to four categories (Business Visitors, Professionals, Intra-company transferees & Traders and Investors) of business people.
A business visitor is someone who enters Canada to conduct business and is not directly employed in Canada. Business Visitors are usually in Canada for a short period of time (e.g., a meeting or conference). Business visitors engage in international business activities related to research and design, growth, manufacture and production, marketing, sales, distribution, after-sales service, and general service.
Professionals are business persons who enter to provide pre-arranged professional services— either as a salaried employee of a Canadian enterprise, through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer, or through a contract between the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise. Professionals are not subject to an LMIA but require a work permit.
CUSMA professional work permits may be issued for the 60 professions
|Accountant||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or CPA, CA, CGA or CMA|
|Architect||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial licence|
|Computer Systems Analyst||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience|
|Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims|
|Economist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Engineer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence|
|Forester||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence|
|Graphic Designer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence|
|Hotel Manager||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management|
|Industrial Designer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience|
|Interior Designer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience|
|Land Surveyor||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial/ federal licence|
|Landscape Architect||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Lawyer (including Notary in the Province of Quebec)||LLB, JD, LLL, BCL or Licenciatura Degree (five years) or membership in a state/provincial bar|
MLS or BLS (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite). A librarian must have either:
|Management Consultant||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement|
|Mathematician (including statistician and Actuary)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Range Manager/Range Conservationalist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Research assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Scientific Technician/ Technologist||
Possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research.
A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics
|Social Worker||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Technical Publications Writer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience|
|Urban Planner (including Geographer)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Vocational Counsellor||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Deg|
|Dentist||DDS, DMD, Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental or state/provincial license|
|Dietitian||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial license|
|Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/ Medical Technologist (Mexico and the U.S.)|
|Nutritionist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Occupational Therapist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial license|
|Pharmacist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial license|
|Physician (teaching or research only)||M.D. or Doctor en Medicina or state/provincial license|
|Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial license|
|Psychologist||State/provincial license or Licenciatura Degree|
|Recreational Therapist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Registered Nurse||State/provincial license or Licenciatura Degree|
|Veterinarian||DVM, DMV or Doctor en Veterinaria or state/provincial license|
|Agriculturist (including Agronomist)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Animal Breeder||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Animal Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Apiculturist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Astronomer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Biochemist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|(including Plant Pathologist)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Chemist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Dairy Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Entomologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Epidemiologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geneticist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geochemist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the U.S.)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Horticulturist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Meteorologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Pharmacologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Plant Breeder||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Poultry Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Soil Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Zoologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|College||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Seminary||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|University||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
Intra-Company Transferees must be transferred to Canada on a temporary basis to work for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their US or Mexican employer. The employee also must have been working for one full year in the last 3 years for a company either in the United States of America or Mexico. Intra-Company Transferee must also work in a capacity that is considered managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge.
Traders and Investors
A trader must demonstrate an intention to carry out substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and his/her country of citizenship, be it the US or Mexico. “Substantial trade” is when more than 50 percent of the trade is done between Canada and one of these countries, based on either the volume or the value traded.
Existing trade relationship must already exist between the foreign company and Canada, and that the Trader cannot enter for the purpose of establishing trading contracts or clients. As a trader or investor, you must be in an executive or managerial position, or a position that requires specialized knowledge.
Canada-Chile FTA / Canada-Peru FTA / Canada-Colombia FTA / Canada-Korea FTA
The basic North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provisions remain the same in the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA). However, there are minor differences in two of the categories of businesspersons (e.g., Business Visitors and Professionals). The rules for Intra-company transferees and Traders/Investors are the same.
The Canada-Peru FTA was signed in 2008 and became effective August 1, 2009. Temporary Entry for Businesspersons is modeled on the NAFTA but have some differences.
The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed in November 2008 and became effective August 15, 2011. This agreement allows issuance of open work permits to spouses of Traders and Investors, Intra-company Transferees or Professionals and Technicians.
The basic North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provisions remain the same in the Canada-Korea FTA. However, there are number of differences in two of the categories of businesspersons (e.g., Business Visitors and Professionals). The rules for traders and investors are the same as in the NAFTA. The Canada-Korea FTA also facilitate work permit issuance for the spouses or common-law partners of Investors or Traders, Intra-Company Transferees, and Professionals.
Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA)
The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) provisionally entered into force in September 2017 to create new commercial opportunities for Canadian and EU businesses in trade and investment. CETA facilitates entry for certain covered businesspersons who are citizens of Canada and EU member states by removing the requirement for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs). The agreement covers the three following categories of visitors for business purposes:
General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
Like NAFTA, the temporary entry of businesspersons under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) can be facilitated without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. Canada is a signatory of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which is administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO). GATS facilitates trade and movement of certain businesspersons among its member countries worldwide. Following groups of businesspeople are covered under GATS:
The business visitor category does not require a work permit because the individual is not entering the Canadian labour market. Naturally, that person must meet all the specific requirements, showing that he/she will not enter the Canadian labour market, that their employer is outside of Canada and that they are being paid by the foreign employer.
The intra-company transferee category is a work permit category. The intra-company transferee must prove the relationship between the foreign and Canadian company and show why the foreign worker is more qualified than existing or potential Canadian workers for the position in Canada. GATS professionals must meet minimum educational requirements as well as certain licensing requirements. The professionals must also have a contract in place before arriving that shows they will be employed in their professional capacity and will be remunerated in this capacity with the fair market wage in the region of the employment.
A GATS Professional is a person who seeks to engage, as part of a services contract obtained by a company in another member nation, in an activity at a professional level. The person must possess the necessary academic credentials and professional qualifications, which have been duly recognized, where appropriate, by the professional association in Canada. This category is designed to facilitate the short-term entry of a limited list of professionals employed by service providers of member nations, in those service sectors to which Canada has made commitments.
Occupation covered under General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
|Occupation||Education/Credential Requirements||Other requirements|
|Engineer||Baccalaureate degree||Provincial licence|
|Agrologists||Baccalaureate degree in agriculture or related science plus four years of related experience||Licensing required in New Brunswick, Alberta & Quebec. Temporary licensing required in British Columbia|
|Architects||Baccalaureate degree in forestry management or forestry engineering, or a provincial licence||Licensing as a forester or forestry engineer is required in Alberta, British Columbia & Quebec|
|Geomatics Professionals||Baccalaureate degree||Provincial licence|
|Foreign Legal Consultants||Baccalaureate degree in law||Provincial licence|
|Urban Planners||Baccalaureate degree in urban planning||Provincial licence|
|Senior Computer Specialists||Graduate degree (Master’s) in computer sciences or related discipline and ten years of experience in computer sciences.|
Canada–Panama Free Trade Agreement
The Canada–Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed in 2010 and came into force on April 1, 2013. Temporary entry for businesspersons is similar to the temporary entry provisions of NAFTA. However, only the provisions for business visitors and professionals are currently in force.
Comprehensive & Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a trade agreement between 11 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). The CPTPP facilitates temporary entry of business visitors, investors, intra-corporate transferees & professionals, and technicians of participating countries.
Business visitor applications can be made at a Canadian port of entry (POE), provided the applicant already has a valid visa or electronic travel authorization. Applicants who are applying as a business visitor, and who are required to obtain a visa, must do so at an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office abroad.
Depending on the citizenship of the principal applicant, work authorization for accompanying spouses is also facilitated, except for business visitors. For spouses, the length of stay, including extensions, should be the same as of the length of stay for the businessperson they are accompanying.