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A foreigner who intends on staying in Canada on a temporary basis may seek entry into Canada as a visitor. Depending on a foreign national’s citizenship and purpose of visit, he/she may be required to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa and work permit from a Canadian consulate or visa post abroad before entering Canada. Under Chapter 16 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), citizens of Canada, the United States, and Mexico can gain quicker, easier temporary entry into the three countries to conduct business-related activities or investments by not requiring a visa.


Business Visitors fall within the Temporary Worker class of entry, although most business visits are exempt from requiring a work permit. A business visitor is a foreign national who seeks to engage in international business activities in Canada without directly entering the Canadian labor market.

Requirements for Business Visitors

A person who plans to travel to Canada for business must:

1.possess a valid travel document, such as a passport

2.present satisfactory evidence of sufficient funds to maintain himself/herself in Canada and to effect departure

3.satisfy an immigration officer that he/she will leave Canada at the end of his/her visit and that he/she has sufficient ties, such as a job, home and family, that will take him/her back to his/her country of origin public security criteria (e.g., someone who has committed or may commit acts against democratic institutions, or who is likely to engage in acts of violence, or who has been convicted of any offence outside Canada, is excluded from entry as a Business Visitor)

5.intends to stay for less than 6 months and does not plan on entering the Canadian labour market

6.has his/her main place of business and source of income located outside of Canada and any profits from his/her business must accrue outside of Canada.

The applicant may be required to:

1.undergo a medical examination; e.g., a Business Visitor who will remain in Canada for more than six consecutive months, and who has resided for more than six consecutive months in the previous year in a country with a high incidence of communicable disease, or who demonstrates a serious medical problem would have to undergo a medical examination

2.obtain a Temporary Resident Visa

3.obtain a letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.

Allowable Activities

The following is a list of allowable activities for a Business Visitor:

1.Buying Canadian goods or services for a foreign business or government or receiving training or familiarization in respect of such goods or services.

2.Giving or receiving training within a Canadian parent or subsidiary of the corporation that employs the foreign national outside Canada, if any production of goods or services that results from the training is incidental.

3.Representing a foreign business or government for the purpose of selling goods for that business or government, as long as the sales are not to the general public in Canada.

4.International business activities without directly entering the Canadian labour market, if:

a.the primary source of remuneration for the business activities is outside Canada; and

b.the principal place of business and actual place of accrual of profits remain predominately outside Canada.

Duration of Stay

A business visitor is typically admitted to Canada for a period of up to six months. Extensions may be permitted for an additional maximum of six months, if sufficient evidence is presented to demonstrate the need for additional time.

NAFTA Business Visitor

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a U.S. or Mexican national may be classified as a NAFTA Business Visitor, provided he/she otherwise meets Business Visitor requirements. A NAFTA Business Visitor can engage in the following activities:

1.Research and design: Technical, scientific, and statistical researchers conducting independent research, or research for an enterprise located in the U.S.

2.Growth, manufacture and production: Purchasing and production management personnel conducting commercial transactions for an enterprise located in the U.S.

3.Marketing: Market researchers and analysts conducting independent research or analysis, or research or analysis for an enterprise located in the U.S; or trade fair and promotional personnel attending a trade convention

4.Sales: Sales representatives and agents taking orders or negotiating contracts for goods or services for an enterprise located in the U.S., but not delivering goods or providing services; or purchasing for an enterprise located in the U.S.

5.Distribution: Transportation operators delivering to Canada or loading and transporting back to the U.S., with no intermediate loading or delivery within Canada; or customs brokers performing brokerage duties associated with the export of goods from Canada to, or through, the U.S.

6.After-sales service: Installers, repair and maintenance personnel, and supervisors, possessing specialized knowledge essential to the seller’s contractual obligation, performing services or training workers to perform such services, pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software, purchased from an enterprise located outside of Canada, during the life of the warranty or service agreement.

7.General Service:

a.Professionals engaged in certain occupations and receiving no salary or other remuneration from a Canadian source;

b.Management and supervisory personnel engaging in commercial transactions for an enterprise located in the U.S. or Mexico;

c.Computer specialist (computer systems analyst or computer programmer holding a bachelor’s degree) employed by a U.S. entity and receiving no salary or remuneration from a Canadian source;

d.Financial services personnel (insurers, bankers or investment brokers) engaged in commercial transactions for an enterprise located in the U.S. or Mexico;

e.Public relations and advertising personnel consulting with business associates, or attending or participating in conventions; or

f.Tourism personnel (tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators) attending or participating in conventions or conducting a tour that has begun in the United States or Mexico.

g.Tour Bus operators entering Canada under certain conditions.

h.Translators or interpreters performing services as employees of an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico.

Exempt Occupations

The following is a list of occupations that are exempt from the requirement to obtain a Work Permit. These individuals would still need to satisfy the basic entry requirements.

1.A foreign representative, if he/she is properly accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and is in Canada to carry out official duties as a diplomatic agent, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies, or of any international organization of which Canada is a member.

2.A foreign national who is a family member of a foreign representative in Canada who is accredited with diplomatic status by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and that Department has stated in writing that it does not object to the foreign national working in Canada.

3.A member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, including a person who has been designated as a civilian component of those armed forces.

4.An officer of a foreign government sent, under an exchange agreement between Canada and one or more countries, to take up duties with a federal or provincial agency.

5.A full-time student, on the campus of the university or college at which he/she is a full-time student, for the period for which he/she holds a study permit to study at that university or college.

6.A performing artist appearing alone or in a group in an artistic performance – other than a performance that is primarily for a film production or a television or radio broadcast – or as a member of the staff of such a performing artist or group who is integral to the artistic performance, if

a.he/she is part of a foreign production or group, or is a guest artist in a Canadian production or group, performing a time-limited engagement, and

b.he/she is not in an employment relationship with the organization or business in Canada that is contracting for his/her services, nor performing in a bar, restaurant or similar establishment.

7.A participant in sports activities or events, in Canada, either as an individual participant or as a member of a foreign-based team or Canadian amateur team.

8.An employee of a foreign news company for the purpose of reporting on events in Canada.

9.A guest speaker for the sole purpose of making a speech or delivering a paper at a dinner, graduation, convention or similar function, or as a commercial speaker or seminar leader delivering a seminar that lasts no longer than five days.

10.A member of the executive of a committee that is organizing a convention or meeting in Canada or a member of the administrative support staff of such a committee.

11.A person who is responsible for assisting a congregation or group in the achievement of its spiritual goals and whose main duties are to preach doctrine, perform functions related to gatherings of the congregation or group, or provide spiritual counseling.

12.A judge, referee or similar official at an international amateur sports competition, an international cultural or artistic event or competition, or an animal or agricultural competition.

13.An examiner or evaluator of research proposals, academic projects or programs, or university theses.

14.An expert who conducts surveys or analyses that are to be used as evidence before a federal or provincial regulatory body, a tribunal or a court of law, or an expert witness before such a body, tribunal or court of law.

15.A student in a health field, including as a medical elective or clinical clerk at a medical teaching institution in Canada, for the primary purpose of acquiring training, if he/she has written approval from the body that regulates that field.

16.A civil aviation inspector of a national aeronautical authority conducting inspections of the flight operation procedures or cabin safety of a commercial air carrier operating international flights.

17.An accredited representative or adviser participating in an aviation accident or incident investigation conducted under the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act.

18.A member of a crew who is employed by a foreign company aboard a means of transportation that: foreign-owned and not registered in Canada, and engaged primarily in international transportation.

19.A provider of emergency services, including medical services, for the protection or preservation of life or property.

Work Permit

Unless a person is a business visitor, a NAFTA business visitor, or his/her occupation is exempt, the applicant must have a valid work permit to work temporarily in Canada. After the applicant has obtained a Work Permit, he/she must apply for a TRV to work in Canada, unless he/she is exempt from the visa requirement. (See section on Visas Not Required.)

If an exception is not available, before applying for a work permit, the Canadian employer will need to request confirmation of the job order from the HRSDC. HRSDC must normally provide a labor market opinion or “confirmation” of the job offer. After HRSDC confirms that a foreign national may fill the job, you may apply to CIC for the work permit. Some jobs are exempt from this requirement.

NAFTA Professionals, Intra-Company Transferees, and Traders and Investors

Under NAFTA, business persons are grouped into four categories. Business Visitors are the only category that are exempt from obtaining a work permit. The following three groups are exempt from the HRSDC confirmation process:

1. Professionals who enter to provide pre-arranged professional services – either as a salaried employee of a Canadian Enterprise, through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer, or through a contract between the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise. There are more than 60 occupations that are included as professionals.

2. Intra-company transferees who are employed by an American or Mexican enterprise in a managerial or executive capacity, or in one which involves specialized knowledge, and are being transferred to the Canadian enterprise, parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, to provide services in the same capacity.

3. Traders and investors who carry on substantial trade in goods or services between the United States or Mexico and Canada or have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and Investors must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skill.

Under NAFTA, individuals in the traders and investors category must apply for their work permit at a Canadian visa office before departing for Canada. Individuals in the professionals or intra-company transferees category may apply at a visa office outside of Canada or at the Port of Entry. Port of Entry applications can be pre-vetted by facsimile Application to one of the two regional Citizenship and Immigration Canada Temporary Foreign Worker Units.

Work Permit Process and Documents

When applying for a Work Permit, the applicant will be required to meet the following requirements:

1. satisfy an officer of the Canadian visa office (Embassy or Consulate) to which he/she is applying that he/she will leave Canada at the end of his/her employment;

2. show that he/she has enough money to maintain himself/herself and his/her family members in Canada;

3. be law-abiding and have no record of criminal activity, including driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (in some cases, the applicant could be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate);

4. not be a risk to the security of Canada;

5. be in good health (in some cases, a medical examination may be required); and

6. produce any additional documents requested by the officer to establish his/her admissibility.

Documents needed to apply for a Work Permit:

1. Proof of identity;

2. Proof of employment in Canada;

3. If the applicant is not a citizen of the country from which he/she is applying, proof of his/her present immigration status in the country of application; and

4. Other documents as requested, depending on his/her situation.


No separate application is required for accompanying family members. Spouses and children are included in the principal applicant’s work permit application. If the work permit holder is authorized to work in Canada for at least six months and meets a minimal skill requirement, his/her spouse may apply for a work permit that is “open,” which will allow him/her to accept any job with any employer. However, if the spouse wants to work in a health-related field or teach children, a Canadian Immigration medical examination is required. Â The definition of spouse includes common-law and same-sex partners.

Minor children of Work Permit holders, who are already in Canada, do not have to obtain a Study Permit to attend primary or secondary school. A Study Permit is needed if the child attends post-secondary education and the course or program’s duration exceeds six months. When minor children studying in Canada without a permit reach the age of majority (18 or 19, depending on the province or territory), they must apply for a permit if they want to continue studying.

Duration of Period of Stay

The maximum period of stay varies depending on the category of worker and whether NAFTA applies. For example, under the intra-company transferees category of executives, the initial work permit may not exceed 3 years and the maximum stay must not exceed 7 years.


A work permit is $150 Canadian dollars. Fees may vary and are subject to change.

Temporary Resident Visa

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is used for visiting, studying, or working in Canada. The TRV may be issued for a single entry, multiple entries, or transit purposes. The applicant should apply for this visa at least one month before his/her planned trip.

Processes and Documents

To be eligible for the TRV visa, the applicant must:

1. be healthy (he/she may need a doctor’s examination if he/she plans to visit longer than 6 months);

2. have a valid passport, proof of who he/she is or other travel documents;

3. have completed an application form for a Temporary Resident Visa;

4. submit the relevant processing fee; and

5. if he/she is working, have a valid Work Permit.

Canada does not pay for hospital or medical services for visitors. Make sure the applicant has health insurance to pay his/her medical costs before he/she leaves for Canada. The application and all relevant supporting documents are submitted to a visa office at a Canadian embassy or consulate outside of Canada.

When applying for a TRV, the following should be submitted to the Consulate:

1. A valid passport, proof of who the applicant is and other travel documents;

2. A completed Application form for a Temporary Resident Visa;

3. Relevant processing fee;

4. If working, an employer’s letter of offer of employment for the prospective job;

5. If applicable, a valid work permit; and

6. If applicable, a doctor’s examination if he/she plans to visit longer than 6 months (see above).

Visas Not Required

Many people do not require a visa to visit Canada. These include:

1. citizens of Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brunei, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel (National Passport holders only), Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, St. Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, United States, and Western Samoa;

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2. persons lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence who are in possession of their alien registration receipt card (“Green Card”) or can provide other evidence of permanent residence;

3. British citizens and British Overseas Citizens who are re-admissible to the United Kingdom;

4. citizens of British dependent territories who derive their citizenship through birth, descent, registration or naturalization in one of the British dependent territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena or the Turks and Caicos Islands;

5. persons holding a British National (Overseas) Passport issued by the Government of the United Kingdom to persons born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong;

6. persons holding a valid and subsisting Special Administrative Region passport issued by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China; and

7. persons holding passports or travel documents issued by the Holy See.

Approximate Timeline

Applications for a TRV are generally processed between one and five business days and can vary depending on the Consulate and current conditions.


Fees are subject to change without notice:

  • Single entry TRV: $75.00
  • Multiple entry TRV: $150.00
  • Family Rate: $400.00


In the province of Quebec, the provincial Quebec legislation requires in certain circumstances a Quebec Immigration Certificate of Acceptance for a worker working in Quebec. Immigrants to Quebec are “selected” for permanent immigration by the provincial immigration authorities.

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