Special Category

Working temporarily in Canada: Special categories—Business people

Business people include certain people entering Canada under the following free trade agreements:

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  • Other Free Trade Agreements
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Important: Business visitor is a separate category with separate requirements. Business visitors do not require a work permit. For more information, see Jobs that do not require a work permit.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Under Chapter 16 of NAFTA, citizens of Canada, the United States and Mexico can gain quicker, easier temporary entry into the three countries to conduct business or investment activities.

Business people covered by NAFTA do not need a labour market opinion from Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). This means that Canadian employers do not need to have a job offer approved by HRSDC to employ a United States or a Mexican business person, as set out in NAFTA.

Business people covered by NAFTA must, however, comply with the general provisions on temporary entry to Canada.

NAFTA applies to four specific categories of business people: business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors.

Business visitor is a separate category with separate requirements. Business visitors do not require a work permit. For more information, see Jobs that do not require a work permit.

A professional must:

  • be qualified to work in one of the more than 60 professions listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of Chapter 16 of NAFTA (for example, accountant, computer systems analyst, engineer, management consultant and technical publications writer) and
  • have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian enterprise in an occupation that matches the qualification.

An intra-company transferee must:

  • have worked continuously for at least one year in the preceding three years for the same or affiliated employer in the United States or Mexico
  • be transferred to Canada to work temporarily for the same or an affiliated employer and
  • work in a capacity that is managerial, executive or that involves specialized knowledge.

A trader or an investor must:

  • be seeking to carry out substantial trade in goods or services, mainly between Canada and her or his country of citizenship, or conduct substantial investment activities in Canada, in a supervisory or an executive capacity, or in a capacity that involves essential skills
  • meet additional requirements under NAFTA and
  • have a work permit.

For more information on all categories, see Appendix G temporary foreign worker guidelines in the Related Links section at the bottom of this page.

Other Free Trade Agreements:

Additional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), such as the Canada-Chile FTA and the Canada-Peru FTA, are modelled after the NAFTA thereby making it easier for business persons from one country to temporarily enter the other country. The rules and requirements are similar to those under NAFTA and cover categories of business people such as: business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Under GATS, Canada has committed to making it easier for certain business people who are foreign service providers in certain sectors to access the Canadian market. The commitments apply to service providers from more than 140 World Trade Organization member countries.

Three categories of business people are covered: business visitors, professionals and intra-company transferees. Qualified business people can enter Canada more easily because they do not need a labour market opinion from HRSDC or, in the case of business visitors, a work permit.

For more information, refer to the booklet Temporary Entry to Canada under the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or consult Appendix D temporary foreign worker guidelines in the Related Links section at the bottom of this page.

Source and Credits: Citizenship and Immigration Canada Special Category