On September 21, 2017, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU), entered into provisional force. With a mandate to facilitate international trade, CETA’s immigration provisions will make it easier and faster for qualifying EU citizens to enter Canada on a temporary basis for business purposes.
CETA includes provisions pertaining to both professional employees and independent contractors, as well as employees of EU-member state companies seeking to work at the operations of related Canadian entities.
1. Contractual Services Suppliers and Independent Professionals
Contractual Services Suppliers are employees of EU enterprises which have service agreements with Canadian entities and which do not have a presence in Canada. To qualify for a work permit under this provision, a contractual services supplier must:
– Be employed with an EU-based enterprise that has a contract to supply a service to a Canadian service consumer;
– Have been employed with the EU-based enterprise for at least 1 year prior to the submission of the application;
– Possess 3 years of professional experience in the sector which is the subject of the contract; and
– Not receive remuneration for the provision of services from a Canadian entity.
Independent Professionals are self-employed EU nationals with a contract to provide services to a Canadian service consumer. To qualify for a work permit, an independent professional must:
– Supply a service to a Canadian company on a temporary basis as a self-employed person; and
– Possess at least 6 years of professional experience in the sector or activity which is the subject to the contract at the time the application is submitted.
Additionally, applicants under both the Contractual Services Suppliers and Independent Professional categories must:
– Be citizens of an EU member state;
– Be delivering services in a designated sector such as architecture, engineering, computer and related services, management consulting, mining, financial services, and research and development, among others;
– Possess a university degree or equivalent qualifications; and
– Have valid provincial, territorial, or federal certification, licensing, or registration in the Canadian jurisdiction where the service will be supplied (where relevant).
EU professionals who qualify under the above categories may be eligible for a work permit valid for the length of the service contract to a maximum period of 12 months within any 24 month period, or for the duration of the contract, whichever period is less. Government will also grant extensions on a discretionary basis.
2. Intra-Company (Intra-Corporate) Transferees
The Intra-Company Transferee provisions in CETA are similar to those in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other free trade agreements, with the addition of a new sub-stream for graduate trainees.
To qualify for a work permit under this category, an Intra-Company Transferee must:
– Have been employed with, or been partners in, an EU-member state entity for at least 1 year;
– Have a job offer with a related company in Canada; and
– Meet the eligibility criteria for the Senior Personnel, Specialist, or Graduate Trainee sub-streams.
For the purposes of CETA, Senior Personnel refers to individuals who provide direction and oversight for a company or department / division within the company, and generally have discretionary decision-making powers and the latitude to hire and fire employees. Specialists are similar to specialized knowledge personnel under the NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer categories, and must have advanced and uncommon knowledge of the company’s products or services.
Qualifying Senior Personnel and Specialists are eligible for work permits valid for the length of the contract or for up to 3 years, whichever time period is less. Extensions of up to 18 months are possible at the adjudicating officer’s discretion.
To qualify for a work permit as an Intra-Company Transferee, Graduate Trainees must:
– Possess a university degree; and
– Take up employment with an enterprise in Canada for career development purposes, or to obtain training in business techniques and / or methods.
Graduate Trainees who qualify under this category may be eligible for a work permit valid for the length of their contract or for up to 1 year, whichever is less. No extensions are permitted under this category.
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 to or is in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital to the investment.
Investors who qualify under this category may be eligible for a work permit valid for 1 year, with possible extensions at the discretion of the adjudicating officer.
4. Business Visitors
CETA includes provisions relating to both short-term business visitors and those entering Canada for investment purposes. EU nationals may enter Canada under CETA’s short-term business visitor provisions to attend meetings and consultations, training seminars, conduct research for an EU-member state headquartered enterprise, attend trade fairs and exhibitions, sales, purchasing, and provide after-sales or after-lease services, among other activities.
Short-term business visitors cannot:
– Engage in selling goods or services to the general public;
– Receive remuneration directly or indirectly from a source in Canada; and / or
– Be engaged in the supply of a service, with certain exceptions.
Business visitors for investment purposes must be employed in a managerial or specialist position, and be entering Canada to establish an enterprise, but must not engage in direct transactions with the general public or receive direct or indirect remuneration from a Canadian source.
Under both categories, business visitors will be granted entry for a maximum of 90 days in any 6 month period.
In keeping with CETA’s mandate to facilitate the exchange of goods and services, CETA’s mobility provisions are somewhat more limited than other free trade agreements, such as NAFTA. Nevertheless, CETA does offer some new avenues for citizens of participating EU member states to enter Canada as business visitors or to obtain work permits. CETA will be particularly useful for Canadian companies looking to bring in EU-based contract or independent service providers, as well as for EU investors and graduates looking to take up employment in Canada for training purposes. As certain provisions in CETA – particularly those relating to intra-company transferees and business visitors – mirror provisions found elsewhere in Canadian immigration law, employers should consult with their legal counsel to determine the most advantageous route for their employees.
For more information on CETA, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.