Global Alerts

Canada – Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) Facilitates Business Mobility

Provisionally effective from September 21, 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union includes provisions for the entry of short-term business visitors and temporary foreign workers.

CETA Business Mobility Overview

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada provisionally applies from September 21, 2017.

  • CETA will only be fully applied once all the EU Member States ratify the deal – this may take a few years.
  • Qualifying business travelers are exempted from work permits, and qualifying intra-corporate transferees, contractual service providers, independent professionals and investors are exempted from quotas and labour market testing.
  • CETA also creates a framework for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications earned in Canada and in the EU.
  • Note that CETA does not cover long-term work, permanent migration or citizenship.

Business Travelers

Under CETA, short-term business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes can enter without a work permit for up to 90 days in any six-month period, for certain business activities.

  • Permissible activities include attending meetings, consultations, training seminars or trade fairs, conducting research or commercial transactions, negotiating sales or purchasing, providing after-sales service, accompanying a tour group or translating or interpreting.
  • A business visitor for investment purposes is an employee in a managerial or specialist position who is responsible for setting up an enterprise.
  • Short-term business visitors under CETA cannot sell goods or services directly to the general public or receive remuneration directly or indirectly from a source in the host country.

Intra-Corporate Transferees

The intra-corporate transfer (ICT) rules of CETA are similar to existing ICT arrangements in Canada and reflect the new EU ICT directive (2014/66/EU), but allow entry and stay without labour market testing or quotas.

All intra-corporate transferees must have been employed by, or been a partner in, the sending company for at least one year, and must belong to one of three defined categories:

  • Senior personnel and specialists may qualify for work permits valid for stays of the length of the assignment up to three years, with a possible extension of up to 18 months.
  • Graduate trainees, who must have a university degree, will be allowed work permits for up to the length of their assignment up to one year, with no extensions allowed.

Contractual Service Providers and Independent Professionals

CETA allows these two categories of professionals to enter for work without being subject to labour market testing or quotas.

  • Applicants in both categories must be contracted to supply a service for up to 12 months (CETA will not apply to any part of a service contract beyond the initial 12 months).
  • Applicants must normally have a university degree or equivalent, and any required professional qualifications.
  • Contractual service providers must have been employed by the sending company for at least one year, and must have at least three years of professional experience in the relevant field.
  • Independent professionals must be self-employed, and must have at least six years of professional experience in the relevant field.
  • CETA includes a list of service sectors applicable to one or both categories.


Qualifying investors may obtain a work permit for up to one year, with possible discretionary extensions, without being subject to quotas or labour market testing.

Note that nationals of European Union member states still require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada, apart from Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, who require an entry visa until December 1, 2017, from which date an eTA will suffice.

Canadian nationals do not need a visa to travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

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