Visitor Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

A business visitor to Canada is an individual looking to enter the country to: 

  • take part in international business activities without being part of the Canadian labor market 
  • temporarily look for ways to grow the business, invest and advance business relationships

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Employers interested in hiring foreign workers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The LMIA verifies that there is a need for a temporary worker and that no Canadians or permanent residents are available to do the job.

International Mobility Program (IMP)

The International Mobility Program (IMP) allows an employer to hire a temporary worker without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), provided certain conditions are satisfied.

Global Talent Stream

The Global Talent Stream (Global Skills Visa) allows certain highly skilled foreign nationals to obtain priority processing with a target of two-weeks to obtain work permits. 

  • 80% of work permit applications will be processed within two weeks of submission
  • work permit exemptions will be granted to highly skilled workers on short-term work assignments
  • Spouses, common law partners, and dependent children may also qualify for two-week processing of applications for visitor visa, work permits, or study permits. 

Category A of the Global Talent Stream

For Category A of the Global Talent Stream, employers must be referred by one of the designated referral partners on the basis that the position being requested requires unique and specialized talent to help the firm scale-up and grow.

Designated organizations are venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators that have been approved to invest in and/or support immigrant entrepreneurs who are applying for permanent residency in Canada while launching their start-up in the new market (Government of Canada Referral Partners).

A designated referral partner must validate that a company meets the following eligibility criteria at the time of each referral to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC):

  • is operating in Canada
  • has a focus on innovation
  • has a willingness, and is capable of growing or scaling up
  • is seeking to fill a unique and specialized position in the company, and
  • has identified a qualified foreign worker for potential hire into that unique and specialized position

Category B of the Global Talent Stream is for organizations seeking to hire highly skilled foreign workers to fill positions in occupations such as Computer engineers, Computer information systems managers, Software engineers, Computer programmers and interactive media developers, Digital media designers. The Global Talent Occupation list can be found here (Global Talent Occupation List). 

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

The CUSMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which expired June 30, 2020. CUSMA allows for citizens of Canada, the United States and Mexico to gain quick entry into each other’s countries for temporary business or investment reasons. 

Individuals from these countries, do not require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), and Canadian employers are not required to have the offer of employment approved by Employment and Social Development Canada in order to hire an individual from the United States or Mexico, provided other conditions are satisfied. 

Under CUSMA, business people must meet the general rules for temporary entry to Canada.

  • Business Visitors – a business visitor is someone who comes to Canada to take part in international business activities without being part of the Canadian labour market. Business visitors usually stay in Canada for a few days or a few weeks but are able to stay for up to six months. Business visitors do not need a work permit.
  • Professionals – in order to work in Canada as a professional under CUSMA and be exempt from a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), an individual must fall within the list of enumerated professionals, and have a job offer letter from a Canadian business. (Global Affairs Canada CUSMA Professionals
  • Intra-company Transferee – a manager, executive or an employee with specialized knowledge, may enter Canada as an intra-company transferee, provided they have worked for the same or a related employer in the United States or Mexico on an ongoing basis for at least one of the last three years, and are transferring to Canada for, to work for the same or a related employer on a short term basis. 
  • Traders and investors – an individual looking to enter Canada as a trader or investor, must be involved in the planning, as a supervisor or executive of a company or in a role that involves essential skills. Additionally, the individual must show a substantial trade in goods or services, mainly between Canada and the home country, or that a substantial investment is being made into Canada. 

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

GATS is a free trade agreement designed for foreign business people looking to enter the Canadian services market, and applies to service providers from more than 140 World Trade Organization member countries. A GATS professional is an individual who seeks to engage, as part of a services contract obtained by a company in another member nation, in an activity at a professional level. The professionals category under GATS is designed to facilitate the short-term entry of a limited list of professionals employed by service providers of a member nation. (Government of Canada GATS Professionals

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

CETA facilitates the entry of business professionals who are citizens of EU member states by removing the requirement for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to be obtained before an individual may legally work in Canada.

  • Business Visitors – Meetings and consultations, research and design, marketing and research, training and seminars, trade fairs and exhibitions, sales, purchasing, after sales or after lease service, commercial transactions and tourism personnel.
  • Intra-Company Transfer – CETA sets conditions whereby people may be transferred to work in Canada within the same affiliated Canadian company, adding graduate trainees to the list of accepted roles.
  • Investors – CETA provides provisions that may allow eligible investors to stay in Canada for up to one year, with the possibility of extension.
  • Contractual Service Suppliers, and Independent Professionals – Under CETA, applicants in both categories may stay in Canada for a cumulative period of not more than 12 months in any 24-month period or for the duration of the contract, whichever is less.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Under CPTPP citizens of Australia, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand may be eligible for an intra-corporate transfer to Canada for up to 3 years if they are in a managerial, executive or specialist role. Spouses of eligible intra-corporate transferee may be issued an open work permit if the applicant is a citizen of Australia, Japan or Mexico, or a permanent resident of Australia.

Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement for Chilean Citizens (CCFTA)

Under CCFTA an employer is not required to obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). CCFTA is similar to CUSMA, and applies to business visitors, professionals, intra -company transferees, and traders and investors looking to enter and are citizens of Chile. 

Open Work Permits

An open work permit is a work permit that is not job-specific, does not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada nor evidence of a job offer from an employer. An open work permit typically allows an individual to work for any employer in Canada. Some of the types of individuals who may qualify for an open work permit are listed below:

  • an international student who graduated from a designated learning institution and is eligible for the Post Graduation Work Permit Program.
  •  a student who no longer able to meet the costs of your studies (destitute student)
  • a permanent residence applicant or dependent family member 
  • the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student
  • the spouse or common-law partner of an applicant of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program
  • a temporary resident permit holder

Students and Visitors 

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)

Canada requires citizens of certain countries to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)TRV before entering Canada. This visa is typically for individuals who are visa-required foreign nationals.

Canadian Permanent Residency

Express Entry

Express Entry is a merit based permanent residency process and is used to manage applications for permanent residence under three federal economic immigration programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program

Provinces and territories may also choose to recruit candidates from the Express Entry system to meet provincial labor markets targets.

Provincial Nominee

Territorial and/or provincial governments in Canada select immigrants based on the specific economic needs of that territory or province and nominate the Foreign National for permanent residence. Applicants first submit an application to the province of interest. If the Foreign National is accepted, they can make an application to IRCC for Permanent Residence.

Start-Up Visa Program

Start-Up Visa Program focuses on entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to Canada. Specifically, those who can build businesses and create jobs for Canadians and Permanent Residents. The start-up visa allows applicants to obtain Permanent Residency.

Self-Employed Permanent Residence

Self-Employed Permanent Residence, which is often based on their work, skills and education. There are two pathways for Permanent Residency for those who are self-employed:

  • Cultural Activities – This is a very broad and liberal grouping that can include artists, musicians, filmmakers, illustrators, journalists and anyone who is a “behind the scenes” worker in cultural industries Applicants must also meet the criteria of “world class” workers. Costumers, choreographers and directors all fall under this heading.
  • Athletics – Coaches, trainers and athletes all fall under this heading.

Family Immigration

A permanent resident or citizen of Canada sponsor may apply to sponsor a “spouse, common-law or conjugal partner (partner), or dependent children (adopted children) to immigrate to Canada.

Super Visa for Parents and Grandparents

The Super Visa is a 10-year multiple-entry visa that enables holders to remain in Canada for uninterrupted two-year periods. This visa is available to someone who is either the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada (SCLPC)

This program gives spouses or common-law partners the opportunity to continue to work in Canada while waiting for their spousal sponsorship applications to be finalized. This pilot program allows applicants to apply for an Open Work Permit alongside, or any time after they submit an application for permanent residence in the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada (SCLPC) class.