Hadson Immigration

Work Permits for Business in Canada

Work Permits for Business in Canada

Business people can come to work in Canada under simplified rules. Business visitors do not need a work permit, while investorstraders, intra-company transferees (ICT), and business professionals require a work permit that is LMIA-exempt.

Rules on how business people can come to work in Canada are set in Canada trade agreements.

We provide an overview of regulations that apply to business people from countries under GATS, new NAFTA, CETA, and other trade agreements.

Business Visitors vs.  Business People

Canada divides business participants into categories. Business visitors and business people are terms with a different meaning. 

Business people are those who come to do business in Canada and need a work permit. The rules of their work in Canada are governed by Canada trade agreements

Work Permit Rules for Business in Canada

The rules for obtaining a work permit for business people are prescribed in Canada trade agreements:

  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

  • New North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

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

  • The Canada-Korea FTA

  • The Canada-Chile FTA

  • The Canada-Colombia FTA

  • The Canada-Peru FTA

General Agreement on Trade In Services (GATS)

GATS regulates the entry and work in Canada for business persons from the World Trade Organization member states. There are three (3) groups of business people under GATS:   

  1. Business visitors do not need a work permit under GATS.
  2. Professionals need a work permit that is LMIA-exempt under GATS.
  3. Intra-company transferees need a work permit that is LMIA-exempt under GATS.

Therefore, qualified business people can enter Canada more easily because they do not need an LMIA from the Government of Canada or, in the case of business visitors, do not need a work permit.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA allows business people of Canada, Mexico, and the United States to get a fast entry into each other’s countries for business or investment reasons. 

There are four (4) categories of business participants under NAFTA: 

1. NAFTA Business visitors:

 can stay up to six (6) months in Canada and they do not need a work permit. A business visitor is someone who visits Canada ttake part in global business activities without being a part of the Canadian labour market.

2. NAFTA Intra-company transferees:

need an LMIA-exempt work permit is required. An intra-company transferee is a person who transfers from one NAFTA state to Canada but within the company. They necessarily have worked on an ongoing basis for at least 1 year in the last 3 years, for the same or a related employer and need a work permit.

3. NAFTA Professionals:

must be suitable to work in one of the NAFTA set jobs, have a Canadian business job offer in that sphere and need an LMIA-exempt work permit. 

Professionals are business persons who enter to provide pre-arranged professional services — either as a salaried employee of a Canadian enterprise, through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer, or through a contract between the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise. Professionals enter to provide services in the field for which they are qualified.

4. Traders and investors:

are persons who are 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 need an LMIA-exempt work permit.

  • Accountant
  • Architect
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)
  • Economist
  • Engineer
  • Forester
  • Graphic Designer
  • Hotel Manager (See note below for further details.)
  • Industrial Designer
  • Interior Designer
  • Land Surveyor
  • Landscape Architect
  • Lawyer (including Notary in Quebec)
  • Librarian
  • Management Consultant
  • Mathematician (including statistician and Actuary)
  • Range Manager/Range Conservationalist
  • Research assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)
  • Scientific Technician/ Technologist
  • Social Worker
  • Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)
  • Technical Publications Writer
  • Urban Planner (including Geographer)
  • Vocational Counsellor
  • Dentist
  • Dietitian
  • Nutritionist
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/ Medical Technologist (Mexico and the U.S.)
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician (teaching or research only)
  • Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist
  • Psychologist
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Veterinarian
  • Agriculturist (including Agronomist)
  • Animal Breeder
  • Animal Scientist
  • Apiculturist
  • Astronomer
  • Biochemist
  • Biologist (including Plant Pathologist)
  • Chemist
  • Dairy Scientist
  • Entomologist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Geneticist
  • Geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the U.S.)
  • Horticulturist
  • Meteorologist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)
  • Plant Breeder
  • Poultry Scientist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Zoologist
  • Teacher (college, seminary, university)

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement (CETA)

CETA helps the entry of certain covered business participants who are citizens of Canada and EU member states by removing the requirement for LMIA. There are 4 categories:  

1. Business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes. Work permit is not required.
2. Investors. LMIA-exempt work permit is required.
3. Independent professionals and contractual service suppliers. LMIA-exempt work permit is required.
4. Intra-corporate transferees and spouses. LMIA-exempt work permit is required.

Other Agreements that Set Work Permit Rules for Business

  1. The Canada-Korea FTA 
  2. The Canada-Chile FTA  
  3. The Canada-Colombia FTA 
  4. The Canada-Peru FTA
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