Canada – Enactment of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and its Effects on Canadian Immigration

What is changing?

On September 21, 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into force, implementing a number of policies to facilitate immigration between European Union (EU) member states and Canada. CETA is a free-trade agreement between Canada, the European Union and its Member States enacted to support economic ties and reduce trade barriers, including the promotion of labour rights, environmental protection and sustainable development.

In the immigration context, CETA simplifies entry for certain business persons who are citizens of Canada or the EU member states by removing the requirement for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) in specific circumstances. The agreement covers the three following categories of visitors for business immigration purposes:

  • Short-term business visitors;
  • Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals; and
  • Key personnel: including intra-company transferees, investors, business visitors for investment purposes;
Who will be affected?
  • Citizens of Canada and EU member states
What to expect
Short Term Business Visitors and Business Visitors for Investment Purposes

CETA provides for the expansion of business related activities for two types of visitors: short-term business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes. The agreement provides for a wider latitude of permissible business visitors activities than those currently listed under R186(a) or R187, allowing travellers up to ninety (90) days in any six (6) month period to enter for business visitor purposes.

Under CETA, the additional permissible activities for entry as a business visitor for citizens of EU member states include the following:

  • Meetings and consultations;
  • Research and design;
  • Marketing research;
  • Training seminars;
  • Trade fairs and exhibitions;
  • Sales;
  • Purchasing;
  • After-sales or after-lease service;
  • Commercial transactions;
  • Tourism personnel;
  • Translation and interpretation;

By expanding the scope of permissible business travel between the EU member states and Canada, CETA hopes to promote the expansion of business activities and greater access to the two markets.

Contractual Service Suppliers and Independent Professionals

CETA enables the entry into Canada of contractual service suppliers and independent professionals without an LMIA in a variety of sectors, including legal services, accounting, taxation, engineering, computer science, mining, management consulting, and more. In order to qualify, applicants must be:

  • citizens of a European Union member state;
  • engaged in the temporary supply of a service for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months;
  • possess a university degree (albeit in some casesĀ  the completion of a three (3) year post-secondary degree may be considered in lieu of a degree); and
  • demonstrate professional qualifications in their field of speciality.

Professionals can travel for a cumulative period of no more than twelve (12) months in any twenty-four (24) month period or for the duration of the contract, whichever is less. Extensions may be granted at the officer’s discretion.

CETA also provides for additional criteria for contractual service suppliers, including that they must:

  • Be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as an employee of an enterprise which has obtained a service contract;
  • Have been an employee of the EU-headquartered enterprise for at least one year prior to application;
  • possess three years of professional experience in the sector of activity that is the subject of the contract at the date of submission; and
  • Not receive remuneration for the provision of services other than the remuneration paid by the enterprise employing the contractual service suppliers during their stay in Canada.

Self-employed or independent professionals who have a contract to supply a service to a Canadian consumer must be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as a self-employed person and possess at least six (6) years of professional experience in the sector of activity which is the subject of the contract.

Intra-Company Transferees and Other Key Personnel

Intra-corporate (company) transferee provisions of CETA are similar to the current intra-company provisions, with the addition of graduate trainees. All intra-corporate (company) transferees must be employed by an enterprise of, or have been partners in an enterprise of, an EU member state for at least one (1) year. They must be temporarily transferred to an enterprise (that may be a subsidiary, branch, or head company of the enterprise) in Canada; and belong to one of the following categories:

  • senior personnel
  • specialists
  • graduate trainees

Senior personnel and specialists may be granted work permits valid for three (3) years or the length of the contract, whichever is less, with a possible eighteen (18) month extension.

For those who qualify under the graduate trainee exemption, they 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. Graduate trainee intra-corporate transferees may be granted a work permit valid for twelve (12) months or the length of the contract, whichever is lesser, and are currently not eligible for extensions.

Note: Currently, Romanian and Bulgarian citizens are not considered visa exempt for the purposes of R198, and still require a visa. As this is a new program, there will be further provisions as to how these applications will be assessed.

What you need to do
Planning ahead
  • Be aware that CETA simplifies entry into Canada for citizens of EU member states who are traveling as short-term business visitors, contractual service suppliers and independent professionals, intra-company transferees, investors, business visitors for investment purposes, and other key personnel.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.