Temporary Residence > Intra-Company Transfer

Free Trade Agreements

Foreign businesses can bring key workers to the Canadian parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate company via Intra-Company Transfer program. Canada has some international economic and trade agreements with other countries and unions, such as United States of America, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Peru, Korea, European Union. Under the International Mobility Program, these agreements and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) have provisions that facilitate temporary entry to four categories of business persons: business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors.

There are two categories of business immigration: business visitors and business people, and they are not the same. Business people are those who come to do business under a free trade agreement. They can enter and work in the country if they meet the criteria of one of these agreements:

  1. General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
  2. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  3. Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
  4. Or other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

However, someone who comes to Canada to take part in international business activities without becoming part of the Canadian labor market is considered to be a business visitor. They usually stay in Canada for a short period, but they are allowed to stay for up to six months.

Let’s go through the main ones to help you to understand your situation better.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Under this agreement, Canada decided to make right of entry to the Canadian services market for foreign business people easier. It covers more than 140 World Trade Organization associate countries.

There are three groups of business people under GATS:

  • Business visitors – people who look for ways to grow your business, invest or advance your business relationships. They may need to apply for an eTA or a visa to come to Canada and identification cards or proof that they have a job.
  • Professionals
  • Intra-company transferees.

Besides, eligible business people can come into Canada more easily because they do not require a LMIA from the Government of Canada or, in the case of business visitors, a work permit.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

It allows people of Canada, Mexico, and the United States to get fast entry into each other’s countries for short-term business or investment reasons. These people do not need a LMIA. Under this agreement, business people must meet the general regulations for a temporary visit to Canada.

There are four groups of business people under NAFTA:

  • Business visitor – someone who visits Canada to take part in global business activities without being a part of the Canadian labor market. They can stay in the country for up to six months and don’t need a work permit.
  • Intra-company transferees – a person who transfers to another country but within the company. They necessarily have worked on an ongoing basis for at least one year in the last three years, for the same or a related employer and have a work permit.
  • Professionals – must be suitable to work in one of the NAFTA set jobs, have a Canadian business job offer in that sphere and have a work permit.
  • Traders and investors – A person that is involved in planning, as a supervisor or executive, or in a role that involves essential skills in a field of trade between Canada and their country. They must also meet any other rules of NAFTA and have a work permit.

Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

It helps the entry of certain covered business persons who are citizens of Canada and EU member states by removing the requirement for Labour Market Impact Assessments. Under CETA, there are three categories of visitors for business purposes:

  • Key personnel: including investors, business visitors for investment purposes and company transferees;
  • Independent professionals and contractual service suppliers;
  • Short-term business visitors.

Note that all of the categories require work permits.

Other free trade agreements (FTAs)

All the agreements listed below are modeled on NAFTA to make it easier for business people from one country to go to another country for a short period. Also, the rules are similar to those under NAFTA.

The Canada-Korea FTA There are some differences in the categories of Business Visitors and Professionals, and in the inclusion of an additional sub-stream of ‘Intra-company transferees.’

The Canada-Chile FTA There are some minor differences in two of the categories of business persons – Business Visitors and Professionals. The rules for Intra-company transferees and Traders/Investors are the same.

The Canada-Colombia FTA – There is a minor difference in differentiating the “professionals” group and regulations of spouse rights of a temporary working person in Canada.

The Canada-Peru FTA – Proof of permanent resident status is an accepted document for presentation in support of an application too. But be aware that there are some differences in groups of business people under this agreement.

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April 2019