Options for Doing International Business in Canada
Whether to meet with Canadian clients, or otherwise expand into the Canadian market, businesses outside of Canada sometimes need to send representatives into the country. These work-related trips have begun to receive heightened scrutiny from Canadian immigration authorities, often resulting in untimely delays or even refusals for businesses previously accustomed to sending employees to Canada.
Fortunately, foreign business owners have options to override these inconveniences, and prepare their employees for increased security checks to ensure the Canada work permit process goes smoothly.
Professional Work Permit
If you need to send business representatives to do professional work in Canada, they may be eligible for a Professional Work Permit. Based on international bilateral agreements like NAFTA, this kind of permit applies to particular countries such as the United States, Mexico, Chile, Columbia, and Peru. Only specific types of work and educational credentials qualify for Professional Work Permits, which are also exempt from Labour Market Opinions, thereby making the process relatively fast, cost-effective, and simple compared to other permits. They are consequently ideal for engineers, scientists, technicians, computer systems analysts, management consultants, and similar professions.
Alternatively, for professional work lasting for fewer than 90 days in Canada, a Professional Work Permit based on GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) may be the solution. Permits under GATS apply to a more limited selection of eligible professions than under NAFTA. They require the credentials of engineers or senior computer specialists, along with citizenship in any of the 159 nations belonging to the World Trade Organization.
Exemptions for After-Sales Services
Certain kinds of work may be exempt from a Canada work permit. Foreign employees can sometimes work without a permit in Canada if they are supplying Canadian clients with after-sales services. This exemption may necessitate as much advance preparation as applying for a work permit, but it is quicker and less complicated than Labour Market Opinion-based permits.
Eligible work must follow the sale of commercial goods such as software or industrial equipment, and must provide services such as product installation and training. Qualifying service agreements cannot be separate from the contract of sale.
Moreover, after-sales services exclude hands-on building or construction. If your commercial goods require this kind of installation, then your representatives will only be authorized to work in Canada in a supervisory role, and you may be required to verify that you are employing Canadian citizens to perform the hands-on work locally. After-sales service work is usually permitted for periods shorter than six months, but lengthier periods may be allowed depending on the kind of goods sold, and the extent of the services provided.
Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit
Long-term work may require foreign businesses to establish a Canadian branch or subsidiary, to which they may relocate important managers, executives, and specialized-knowledge employees as necessary. Transferable workers must be under contract during the application, and employed by the parent company full-time in a corresponding role for at least one year prior to transfer. Eligibility extends both to workers who must reside in Canada for several years, and to those who will alternate between the parent company and its Canadian branch.
Be aware that Canadian immigration authorities safeguard against granting intra-company transfers to businesses that might not wind up operating in Canada. Applicants must therefore demonstrate the viability of their proposed business, preferably in the form of a detailed business plan complete with provisions for hiring Canadian employees, and a valid lease for Canadian business premises.
Although intra-company transfers accommodate more diverse operations than do Professional Work Permits, the eligible work is restricted to executive or senior managerial roles, or specialized-knowledge positions. The kinds of specialized knowledge that qualify must be rare to your industry, yet integral to the success of your Canadian branch.
Labour Market Opinion-Based Work Permits
If none of the preceding options describes your circumstances, then chances are a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) will be necessary for you to do business in Canada. A Labour Market Opinion enables foreign workers to enter Canada in the event of a proven shortage of labour in a given field, or if there are demonstrable benefits to the local market. More complicated and time-intensive than the other options, LMO applications typically require a Canadian business to advertise the job within Canada for up to four weeks, keeping the advertisements active for one to three months while the LMO application is processed. Once a labour shortage has been established, the business must wait to receive a positive LMO before employees can apply for a work permit at the visa office or Canadian port of entry.
Simplifying Employment-Based Canadian Immigration
In order to simplify the Canada work permit process, foreign businesses should understand the legal Canadian immigration options available to them, and the relevant protocol. While some situations require you to apply months in advance of your employees’ arrival, others take a much shorter time, but, under any circumstances, your employees must be ready to present the correct documentation to Canadian immigration authorities.
Expanding your operations into the Canadian market is a big commitment, but it can create significant advantages for your business and your Canadian customers. The right knowledge and proper preparation can facilitate the immigration process so that you can bring your business to Canada without any unforeseen obstacles.
To speak with a Canadian immigration lawyer, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America @ 1 (855) 360-4333 or 1 (514) 360-4333 internationally.