Temporary Entry


There are many ways in which individuals may apply to enter Canada in temporary status. A few of the commonly used methods are outlined below. This information is only an overview. It is not intended to be a detailed analysis of Canadian immigration law.


Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)


Individuals from Visa-exempt countries flying or transiting through Canada need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). The only exception is  U.S. citizens. The authorization is electronically linked to the traveler's passport and is valid for five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.

Temporary Resident Visas (Business or Tourist)

When seeking entry to Canada for any purpose, individuals from a designated list of countries require Temporary Resident Visas. If this is required, an application for a visa must be made at a Canadian Embassy before traveling. The list changes from time to time, often to reflect the political climate or other concerns. These visas can be issued as either single entry or multiple entry documents and the length of the document's validity will depend upon the purpose of the trip and passport validity.


Someone can be considered a business visitor if he or she is:


  1. Purchasing Canadian goods or services on behalf of a foreign business or government.

  2. Receiving training concerning purchased Canadian goods or services.

  3. Providing or obtaining training at the Canadian subsidiary or parent of the company that employs them outside of Canada, provided that any goods or services produced as a result of the training are incidental.

  4. Representing a foreign business or government in order to sell goods on behalf of that entity provided that the foreign national is not making sales to the general public in Canada.


A business visitor may not enter the Canadian labour market, must not be remunerated for his or her business activities from inside of Canada and his or her primary place of business and the profits accrued must remain primarily outside of Canada.

Work Permits

Free Trade Agreements


  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 
  • Canada-Chile FTA
  • Canada-Peru FTA 
  • Canada-Colombia FTA
  • Canada-Korea FTA
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) 
  • Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)



Individuals who are citizens of the United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Korea  or one of the 124 countries that are signatories to the General Agreement on Trade in Services, may be eligible to make an application for a Work Permit by way one of these international treaties. Each treaty includes provisions to facilitate the international movement of workers. Within each of these agreements, there are provisions concerning business visitors, professionals and intra-company transferees.  Some of the agreements also include clauses pertaining to workers who may apply for a Work Permit pursuant to treaty trader or investor provisions.


To make application as a professional, the applicant must be a professional noted in a specific list of professions. The applicant must hold the appropriate educational requirements and have a job offer in order to make application.

In order to make application for a Work Permit as an intra-company transferee, the foreign worker must have been employed at the company outside of Canada for one year of the three years preceding the application and immediately prior to the application. Employment in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge position is necessary. The foreign worker can be transferred to an affiliate, branch, parent or subsidiary of the company where he or she is currently working.


Some of the agreements contain an Investor category under which an application for a Work Permit can be made. In order to make this type of application, both the applicant's citizenship and that of the company must be the same and at least 50% of the company must be held by citizens of a signatory county. There are two types of Investor applications — Treaty Investors and Treaty Traders. The applicant can be the investor, the trader or an employee of the investor or trader company. A Treaty Investor application may be made in circumstances where the applicant is responsible for directing and developing the operation of an enterprise in which there has had been a substantial investment or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. Employees with skills essential to the success of the operation may also apply under this category. The amount of money to be invested depends upon the total value of each operation and the figure that is necessary to properly establish such a business. A Treaty Trader application can be made when a business or individual carries on substantial trade in goods or services with the other member nation. An American or Mexican operation must conduct over 50% of its international trade with Canada in order to be eligible. The trade can be with respect to either good or services. A foreign worker applying for Work Permit must hold a supervisory, executive or essential skills position.


Labour Market Impact Assessment

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is the government authority responsible for labour market concerns and its officers are asked to consider  whether a foreign worker will have a neutral or positive effect on the Canadian labour market, whether the foreign worker will be able to transfer skills to Canadians, or whether 

employing the individual in Canada would be beneficial. Additionally, ESDC examines whether the employer has made sufficient efforts to recruit and attract Canadians for the position. A very specific advertising protocol must be followed before an application for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) can be filed. An application for a work permit based on an LMIA is a two-part process. The initial submissions are made to ESDC and these submissions address the aforementioned concerns. If ESCD provides positive Labour Market Impact Assessment, then an application for a work permit can be made. Upon receiving a positive LMIA from ESDC, the application for a work permit, and Temporary Resident Visa if necessary, is filed with a Canadian Consulate or Embassy. Visa exempt applicants have the option of making application at a port of entry.


Confirmation Exempt Categories


Significant Benefit to Canada  To make a successful application for a work permit as a significant benefit, strong arguments must be presented to demonstrate there are exceedingly clear social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada. This category may be useful when applying for a work permit for a foreign worker of international acclaim or when the foreign worker must attend in Canada for a prestigious occasion.


A self-employed applicant may also be considered with a view to the potential benefit to Canada. Making this type of application will be more difficult when an application for permanent residence in the same category has been filed concurrently. However, in situations where there are compelling or urgent reason for admission when an applicant's permanent resident case has been approved but the documents have not been issued, an officer may consider issuing a Work Permit. As above, there must be a clear demonstration of the benefits that will accrue from the admission of the foreign worker.


This intra-company transfer provision is open to all individuals, regardless of citizenship and whether their country of citizenship is party to a treaty, who have been employed by the company outside of Canada for at least one year out of the three previous years, including immediately prior to the transfer. The applicant must hold a senior managerial or executive position or a specialized knowledge position. The transfer to Canada must be to a similar position. The corporate relationship between the company in Canada and the company abroad must be parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch.


Applications for Work Permits can also be made in circumstances of reciprocal employment. The purpose of this Confirmation exemption is to allow for the gaining of international experience and the provision of cultural interchange for foreign workers, Canadians and employers. Although Citizenship and Immigration Canada has a number of formal exchange programs in place, the reciprocal employment provisions provide an opportunity for foreign workers to apply for Work Permits when a Canadian employer is able to demonstrate that the company participates in the international exchange of foreign workers.


When a foreign worker in a professional, managerial or highly skilled occupation is issued a Work Permit for Canada, the spouse or common law partner of a skilled worker may also apply for a Work Permit. The principal worker’s permit must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months and the duration of the Work Permit that is issued to the spouse will be for the same duration as the principal applicant. The Work Permit that the spouse or common law partner receives will be “open” in that he or she will be permitted to work in any occupation. Note that if the spouse or common law partner intends to work with children or in a health care field, he or she will be required to undergo medical examinations.