New International Mobility Program Options under Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”) is a new agreement between Canada and the European Union (“EU”), which is now in force. Chapter 10 of CETA removes the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment for three categories of EU foreign nationals entering Canada for business purposes.  In particular, chapter 10 applies to the following categories of visitors, who are citizens of EU member states:

  1. Key personnel: including intra-corporate (company) transferees, investors, and business visitors for investment purposes;
  2. Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals; and
  3. Short-term business visitors.

Key Personnel

The intra-corporate (company) transferee provisions of CETA, described under the key personnel category, are similar to the C12 exemption for General Agreement on Trade in Services (“GATS”) intra-company transferees. The applicant must belong to one of the following categories:

  1. senior personnel – parallel to the “executive capacity” position under the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”); or
  2. specialists – parallel to “Specialized knowledge” personnel provisions under NAFTA; or
  3. graduate trainees – must possess a university degree, and be temporarily transferred to an enterprise in Canada for career development purposes or to obtain training in business techniques or methods, for up to one year.

Intra-corporate (company) transferees may only be extended for a period of up to 18 months, with graduate trainees prohibited from any extensions.

The investor provisions listed under the key personnel category of CETA are similar to NAFTA.

A business visitor for investment purposes is an employee in a managerial or specialist position who is responsible for setting up an enterprise but who does not engage in direct transactions with the general public and will not receive direct or indirect remuneration from a Canadian source.

Contractual Service Suppliers and Independent Professionals

CETA includes a list of service sectors (set out in Annex 10-E) applicable to contractual service suppliers and independent professionals (note that the list of covered sectors can be different for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals).  The Government of Canada has created a table to demonstrate equivalency between Annex 10-E and Canada’s National Occupational Classification codes, and to highlight those occupations where Canada has committed to facilitate temporary entry for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals.

Applicants must possess a university degree, or a qualification demonstrating knowledge of an equivalent level, and professional qualifications if required to practice an activity pursuant to the laws or requirements in the province or territory where the service is supplied.

Contractual service supplier means an employee of an enterprise in the EU that has a contract to supply a service to a Canadian consumer.  The EU enterprise cannot have an establishment in Canada.  For example, a Canadian high tech company that contracts the services of a Greek firm to provide services in the field of engineering.  An experienced software engineer employed by the Greek firm in Thessaloniki seeks entry to Canada to provide the engineering services under the terms of the pre-arranged services contract.

Independent professional means a self-employed professional who has a contract to supply a service to a Canadian consumer.  For example, a self-employed Italian management consultant seeks entry to Canada to provide services to a technology company under the terms of a pre-arranged contract.

Short-Term Business Visitors

The CETA short-term business visitor category is applicable to visitors, who otherwise do not meet the requirements for entry as a standard business visitor. Annex 10-D of CETA supports the business visitor category.  It provides a list of permissible activities for entry as a business visitor under CETA.  The list of eligible activities for business visitors is different in CETA than in NAFTA.  For example, it includes categories for meetings and consultations, as well as training seminars. In addition, the description of after-sales services also includes after-lease services.

Annex 10-D sets out a complete list of the activities short-term business visitors from EU member states can engage in, including the following:

  1. meetings and consultations;
  2. research and design;
  3. training seminars;
  4. sales (representatives of a supplier of services or goods taking orders or negotiating the sale of services or goods, or entering into agreements to sell services or goods for that supplier, but not delivering goods or supplying services themselves (short-term business visitors do not engage in making direct sales to the general public));
  5. purchasing (buyers purchasing goods or services for an enterprise, or management and supervisory personnel engaging in a commercial transaction to be carried out in the territory of the other Party); and
  6. commercial transactions (management and supervisory personnel and financial services personnel (including insurers, bankers and investment brokers) engaging in a commercial transaction for an enterprise located in the territory of the other Party).

For further information about CETA or how your company may rely on the visa options for business persons under CETA, please contact Christopher McHardy or any member of our Labour and Employment group.

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