Coming to Canada for Business

Thousands of travellers enter Canada each day to engage in international business, including attending training, servicing warranty contracts, or competing in competitive sport. Depending on your citizenship and the exact details of the business activity, you may or may not be required to apply for authorization to engage in work before you can enter Canada.

Entry Requirements

constructionworkerFirstly, citizens of visa-requiring countries require a visa before entering Canada. Citizens of visa-exempt countries, as well as US permanent residents, do not require a visa to enter Canada; however, effective November 9, 2016, citizens of visa-exempt countries (excluding US citizens and Canadian permanent residents) will require an Electronic Travel Authorization.


Secondly, regardless of whether you require a visa, the nature of the business will decide whether you also require a work permit. Work permits authorize a foreign national to engage in business that is not otherwise exempt. Canadian immigration law outlines several business activities that do not require a work permit; however, it is ultimately up to the immigration officer at the border to interpret the law and assess your case.

If you do require a work permit, you must apply for it from a Canadian consulate abroad before your arrival in Canada. However, US citizens and US permanent residents are allowed to apply for work permits at the border. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure your application for a work permit is complete and optimal before you submit it to Canadian officials; a Canadian immigration lawyer can provide expertise to help ensure your application is ready to be submitted.

Nature of the Business

R186 of the Immigration Refugee Protection Regulations specifies several work permit exemptions, including:

  • Guest speakers at conventions
  • Singers, dancers, or other performers of live events, and their essential crew
  • Foreign sports team members
  • Clergy
  • Employees of foreign news companies
  • Crew member of a foreign vessel
  • Students of universities and colleges, so long as they work on-campus
  • “Business visitors” as defined by R187

R187 of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act provides the following broad criteria:

  • Seeks to engage in international business activities in Canada without directly entering the Canadian labour market
  • Primary source of remuneration is outside of Canada
  • The principal place of business and actual place of accrual of profits remains predominantly outside Canada

It is ultimately your responsibility to prove to the immigration officer that you either have authorization to work in Canada or are exempt under the law. Failure to demonstrate that your intent to engage in business in Canada is authorized may result in you being deemed inadmissible.

Here are some tips when trying to enter Canada as work permit exempt:

  • Be prepared to present emails or letters outlining the details of what you will be doing
  • Be able to explain why a Canadian wouldn’t be able to do this type of work
  • Demonstrate that the nature of the work is international in scope
  • Show what type of compensation you are receiving and who it is from
  • Provide a return ticket or evidence of your intent to return home shortly

It is always safest to consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer to discuss your individual case and determine your best course of action. Having an extensive expertise in legal immigration services, FW Canada can walk you through your options and serve as a major asset in facilitating your travel to Canada.

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