6 Tips and Observations for Employers Whose Employees Travel to Canada on Business

Employers will be interested in these 12 key observations and tips for when employees travel to Canada on business. Indeed, for employers who require employees to engage in international business travel to Canada, the border is an important venue for making applications for entry on a temporary basis in situations where a work permit is required, and for consideration under a work permit exempt category. Understanding the dynamics of border or port-of-entry processing is therefore critical.

Tip #1 – Preparing Employees for Travel

Help your foreign national employees or service providers understand the Canadian immigration system prior to travel to Canada.

For example: The first government officials you will encounter when you arrive in Canada are Canada customs officers. Their job is to decide who goes into "Immigration Secondary" for further questioning/processing.

Tip #2 – Work Permit Determination

It is important to make a decision in advance of travel to Canada about whether your employees require a work permit or not.

Whether you are consulting with in-house or external legal counsel, or seeking advice from human resource professionals inside or outside of your company, get a definitive opinion on what possible immigration documents your foreign national employees may require that will allow them to lawfully carry out their activities in Canada.

If a work permit is required, your foreign national employees may be able to pick it up at the border when they arrive in Canada, or they may be required to file that application through a Canadian consulate or embassy abroad.

Tip #3 – Criminality Issues

Advise your employees that any past criminal charges or convictions may result in issues with their admittance to Canada.

In some cases, previous criminality can be overcome and admittance can be achieved through special temporary immigration pardons called Temporary Resident Permits.

Addressing these issues in advance by filing the appropriate paperwork for a Temporary Resident Permit gives the application a much better chance of success than simply relying on the discretion of an immigration officer to allow entry based on the person’s verbal account.

Tip #4 – Temporary Resident Visas

Nationals of certain prescribed countries require special entry visas called Temporary Resident Visas for even a two-hour meeting in Canada, even if they have lawful temporary status in the United States.

These visas can only be applied for at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate outside Canada and can take days/weeks to obtain.

If your employee shows up at the border and does not have the requisite Temporary Resident Visa, he or she will be denied entry to Canada even if he or she did qualify for a work permit or entry under a specific work permit exempt category.

Tip #5 – Medicals

In some cases, an immigration medical is required in advance of travel to Canada — typically if a person has been residing in a designated country such as China or Russia.

Immigration medicals are required if the person has spent six consecutive months living in one of those countries, and intends to spend six months or more in Canada.

If a person needs an immigration medical prior to entry to Canada, they are required to do all of their immigration processing through a Canadian Embassy or Consulate as opposed to the border/port. This can delay entry for weeks or months.

Tip #6 – Supporting Documentation

It is a very good idea to equip your employees (even for short stays) with some type of supporting documentation, such as a support letter that clearly explains the nature and purpose for the visit to Canada and asks for admission based on a specific work permit exempt or work permit category.

Coach your employees to read their support letters carefully in advance so that they can provide consistent answers to questions posed by Customs and Immigration Officials.

I look forward to offering you six more practical tips in my next post.

admittance to Canada border processing Canada Customs Canadian Border Services Agency Canadian Consulate Canadian Embassy criminality foreign national employee foreign national service provider FOSS honesty Immigration Computer in the Field Operations Support System immigration medical examination Immigration Secondary international business travel to Canada misrepresentation PIL port-of-entry processing primary inspection line support letter Temporary Resident Permit temporary resident visa work permit work permit exempt

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