Working in Canada as a business visitor

Business visitors to Canada enjoy special work privileges not extended to all international individuals entering the country for work. One such privilege is exemption from the requirement for a Canadian work permit.

Why Canada allows business visitors to come to Canada without work permits

Canada’s economic prosperity significantly benefits from enabling businesspeople worldwide to conduct business within its borders. This is because Canada’s economy thrives on collaboration and relationship-building with nations globally. Through trade agreements and economic partnerships, Canada maintains reciprocal relationships that permit Canadians to enter other countries for business purposes. Similarly, Canada operates with reciprocity, facilitating economic development through international business interactions.

Indeed, Canada’s participation in organizations like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G7 underscores its commitment to facilitating international business. Agreements such as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), further exemplify Canada’s dedication to enabling seamless and efficient international business transactions within its borders.

What are the criteria that foreign nationals must meet to qualify as business visitors to Canada?

To visit Canada and engage in business activities, foreign nationals must meet specific requirements and present certain documents to Canadian authorities. For instance, prospective business visitors must:

  • Demonstrate that they intend to stay in Canada for less than six months
  • Prove that they have no intention of entering the Canadian labour market
  • Show that their main place of business, as well as their main source of income and profit, is outside of Canada
  • Present requested supporting documents for their application
  • Meet Canada’s basic entry requirements

Pertaining to the final bullet on the above list, Canada’s basic entry requirements include the following.

  • Having a valid travel document (ex. passport)
  • Possessing enough money to stay in Canada and return home
  • Having a plan to leave Canada at the end of their visit
  • Proving not to be a criminal, security, or health risk to Canadians

Now, the following two sections will provide some necessary clarity on the specific ways that Canada divides prospective business visitors coming to this country.

Who is not considered a business visitor in Canada?

Before proceeding, it’s important to clarify situations where a foreign national coming to conduct business in Canada is not considered a business visitor.

  • Individuals coming to Canada to perform duties involving hands-on building and construction
  • Individuals coming to this country to work under a service contract negotiated by a third party (not either the Canadian company or a foreign organization working together) after the signing of the initial sales or lease/renal agreement
  • Foreign nationals performing work in Canada not covered by a warranty
  • If the foreign employee entering Canada is working for an international company that was directly contracted for service by a Canadian organization. In this case, a contract between a Canadian company and a foreign organization signifies an entry into the Canadian labour market.

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