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Canada: New simplified immigration rules for foreign EU business people

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Canada will facilitate the transfer or secondment of European professionals as part of an international mobility program within the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Depending on the type of work and length of stay, in some cases, Canadian businesses may not be required to conduct a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) in order to transfer professionals from Europe.

On September 21, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced a new international mobility program under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Like NAFTA, this free trade agreement allows for simplified movement between countries for business and work purposes. Under CETA, Canadian businesses may draw from the European workforce without the need to obtain a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) in some instances.

Three categories of individuals are considered to be LMIA-exempt under CETA:

  • key personnel, including intra-company transferees, investors, and business visitors for investment purposes;
  • contractual service suppliers and independent professionals; and
  • short-term business visitors, including individuals attending meetings, consultations and training seminars, conducting research or providing after-sales or after-lease services.

Individuals falling into any of these categories are able to apply for entry to Canada at any Canadian port of entry. The length of time permitted for an individual’s stay will vary depending on the category they fall into and the nature of their work or investment:

  • intra-company transferees: between one and three years, or the duration of the contract (whichever is less), with the possibility of extension in some cases;
  • short-term business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes: 90 days in any six-month period;
  • investors employed by an enterprise that has committed or is in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital: one year, with the possibility of extension;
  • contractual service suppliers and independent professionals: up to 12 months in any 24-month period, or the duration of the contract (whichever is less).

The benefits of this LMIA exemption for Canadian business are significant, particularly for those with existing operations or service contracts in the EU and those looking to attract foreign investment.

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