By: Evelyn Ackah, Immigration Lawyer
On September 21, 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into effect between Canada and the European Union (EU). The free trade agreement between Canada and EU member states eliminates many of the tariffs between the two members and brings with it increased opportunities for businesses and professionals to engage in business. While CETA came into effect on September 21, 2017, many of the EU member states are yet to ratify the agreement in their countries.
CETA is meant to facilitate entry for business professionals who are citizens of Canada and EU member states by removing the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) to be obtained before the person can legally work in Canada. New LMIA exemption codes have been created to apply to business visitors from EU member states. These exemptions will be granted under the International Mobility Program (“IMP”).
Applications can be processed at a Canadian port-of-entry or be applied from within Canada if they meet the requirements set out in section 199 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
For short-term business visitors, the maximum length of stay for investment purposes is 90 days in any six-month period, unless otherwise eligible for longer durations.
All CETA business visitors may seek entry to Canada for a number of regular visits related to a specific project. These visits may take place over a period of weeks or months. Consideration is given pursuant a Visitor Record to facilitate entry and to reduce requests for additional information.
The list of eligible activities for business visitors is different under CETA than it is under the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). They include the activities listed below:
- Meetings and consultations
- Research and design
- Marketing research
- Training and seminars
- Trade fairs and exhibitions
- After-sales or after-lease service
- Commercial transactions
- Tourism personnel
- Translation and interpretation
Restrictions on Business Visitor Eligibility under CETA:
Short-term business visitors cannot:
- Engage in selling a good or a service to the general public
- Receive remuneration directly or indirectly from a source in Canada
- Be engaged in the supply of a service, except as provided in Annex 10-D
CETA sets conditions whereby people may be transferred to work in Canada within the same affiliated Canada company. The provisions in CETA for Intra-Company transfers remain largely similar to the existing Intra-Company transfer program, however, CETA adds graduate trainees to the list of excepted roles.
Under CETA, all intra-company transferees must:
- Have been employed by an enterprise of, or have been partners in an enterprise of, an EU member state for at least one year; and
- Be temporarily transferred to an enterprise (that may be a subsidiary, branch or head company of the enterprise) in Canada.
Graduate trainee applicants must also:
- Possess a university degree; and
- Be temporarily transferred to an enterprise in Canada for career development purposes or to obtain training in business techniques or methods
CETA provides provisions that allow eligible investors to stay in Canada for up to one year, with the possibility of extending their stay at the discretion of an officer.
The investor provisions of CETA apply to applicants who:
- Will establish, develop or administer the operation of an investment in a capacity that is supervisory or executive;
- Are the investor; and
- Are employed by an enterprise that has committed or in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital.
Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals
Under CETA, applicants in both categories may stay in Canada for a cumulative period of not more than 12 months in any 24-month period or for the duration of the contract, whichever is less:
Applicants in both categories of professionals must be:
- Citizens of a European Union member state;
- Engaged in the temporary supply of a service for a period not exceeding 12 months (if longer than 12 months, the commitments in CETA will only apply for the initial 12 months of the contract); and
- Contracted to provide a service in accordance with the Annex 10-E concordance table.
They must also possess:
- A university degree or a qualification demonstrating knowledge of an equivalent level; and
- Professional qualifications if required to practice an activity pursuant to the laws or requirements in the province or territory where the service is supplied.
Evelyn Ackah is the Founder and Managing Lawyer at Ackah Business Immigration Law. She has been practicing law since 1999 and brings her passion and knowledge for immigration law to her corporate and individual clients from all over the world.
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