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Free trade between Canada and the European Union (EU) starts this September. It increases opportunities for businesses, services suppliers, independent professionals, and short-term business visitors to receive a work permit in Canada.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) — a free trade agreement between Canada, the European Union and its member states — will eliminate 98 percent of the tariffs between Canada and the EU. The “provisional application” of CETA came into effect on September 21, though many member states are yet to ratify the agreement. The government of Canada estimates bilateral trade will increase by 20 percent as a result of CETA.

With regard to immigration matters, CETA facilitates entry for certain business persons who are citizens of Canada and EU member states by removing the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to be obtained before that person can legally perform work in Canada.

The LMIA process ensures that companies in Canada may only hire internationally if it is determined that no Canadian citizens or permanent residents were ready and able to perform the role.

The LMIA process also includes advertising requirements and processing times.

The maximum length of stay for short-term business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes is 90 days in any six-month period, unless otherwise eligible for other durations.

CETA sets forth conditions whereby persons may transfer to work in Canada within the same company.

The intra-company transferee provisions of CETA, described under the key personnel category, are similar to the already existing Intra-Company transfer program, with the addition of graduate trainees.

Senior personnel and specialists may also to Canada without a LMIA.

Under CETA, all intra-company transferees must:

  • have been employed by an enterprise of, or have been partners in an enterprise of, an EU member state for at least one year; and
  • be temporarily transferred to an enterprise (that may be a subsidiary, branch, or head company of the enterprise) in Canada.

Under the agreement, eligible investors may stay in Canada for one year, with possible extensions at the officer’s discretion if the applicant is able to provide documentation that satisfies the processing officer of their need to have their stay extended.

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;
  • are employed by an enterprise that has committed or is in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital.

Under CETA, applicants in both categories may stay in Canada for a cumulative period of no more than 12 months in any 24-month period or for the duration of the contract, whichever is less.


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