Being Admitted to Canada as a Business Visitor

CIC News
Published: November 27, 2013

In Canada, certain individuals can enter the country to conduct business or trade activity without needing a work permit. These individuals, known as business visitors, are an important but often overlooked aspect of Canada’s international business.

This article is a brief primer on who may generally enter Canada as a business visitor, and what prospective business visitors should be aware of before coming to Canada.

Who is a Business Visitor?

Business visitors may enter Canada for a variety of reasons, but all must meet the following criteria:

  • They must have no intent to enter the Canadian labour market. That is, they will not be gainfully employed by a Canadian employer during their time in Canada; and
  • Their activity must be international in scope. It is assumed that a business visitor is engaging in cross-border business activity of some sort

In addition, for business visitors it is presumed that the following are true:

  • Their primary source of remuneration is from outside of Canada;
  • Their principal place of employment remains outside of Canada; and
  • The accrual of their employer's profits are located outside of Canada.

Business visitors usually fall under one of the following common sub-categories. They are:

  • Employees of foreign companies contracting Canadian companies;
  • After-sales service providers;
  • Trainers and trainees, including intra-company training;
  • Attendees of board of director’s meetings; and
  • Employees of short-term temporary residents (such as caregivers or personal assistants)

Before Coming to Canada

Prospective business visitors should be aware that if a Canadian visa officer classifies them as foreign workers and not as business visitors, they may require a work permit in order to come to Canada. Should this prove to be the case, they will have to undergo the process of receiving all necessary documentation before beginning their work in Canada. This can take up to a few months.

In order to make certain that visa officers understand that one intends to enter Canada as a business visitor, it is prudent to present documentation that attests to this. Such documentation can include letters of support from companies both inside and outside of Canada, as well as other evidence that speaks to the nature of the business activities that will be conducted in Canada.

Depending on the applicant’s country of citizenship, he or she may require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in order to enter Canada. A list of TRV exempt countries can be found here. Individuals who require a TRV should apply for and receive this visa before traveling to Canada.

Admissibility to Canada

Like all temporary residents, business visitors will be assessed for criminal and medical admissibility to Canada. It is not uncommon for individuals, especially those from TRV exempt countries like the United States, to be unaware that they are inadmissible to Canada until arriving at the border.

To mitigate this, applicants who have received a criminal conviction, even for a minor offense, should find out whether this offense will render them inadmissible to Canada. The same goes for individuals who have past or present medical conditions.

Oftentimes, inadmissibility can be resolved before an individual travels to Canada. However, the process can take several weeks and therefore steps should ideally be taken well in advance of any business trips to the country.

In Conclusion

Allowing business visitors to enter Canada without a work permit allows Canadian businesses to receive valuable expertise and services. International businesspeople, on the other hand, can conduct business in Canada without hassle.

Business visitors can come to Canada as many times as they need to conduct their activities, provided that each time they enter they continue to meet eligibility requirements.

“I speak to many clients who are unaware they may be eligible to enter Canada as business visitors,” said Attorney David Cohen. “When they find out how simply they can come to Canada, they are usually very excited. This option is truly a win-win for both Canadians and international professionals.”

To find out more about coming to Canada as a business visitor, please contact us today.

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