According to NAFTA, a business visitor is: "a business person seeking to engage in a business activity set out in Appendix 1603.A.1, without requiring that person to obtain an employment authorization, provided that the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry...."
The business activities set out in Appendix 1603.A.1, include the following groups of people:
- Research and design: Technical, scientific and statistical researchers, conducting independent research or research for a company located in the United States or Mexico.
- Growth, Manufacture and Production: Harvester owner supervising (not hands-on work) a harvesting crew admitted which is authorized to work in Canada.
- Marketing: Market researchers and analysts conducting independent research or analysis for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico. Trade fair and promotional personnel attending a trade convention (this does not include the organizer of the trade fair, unless there are no Canadian exhibitors at the trade convention).
- Sales: Sales representatives and agents taking orders or negotiating contracts for goods or services for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico, but not delivering goods or providing services. These sales representatives or agents may bring into Canada the necessary number of samples required for display.
- Distribution: American and Mexican transportation operators who are either transporting goods or passengers to Canada from the United States or Mexico OR loading and transporting goods or passengers in Canada to be taken to the United States or Mexico (without any unloading in Canada). A transportation operator is defined as: "a natural person, other than a tour bus operator, including relief personnel accompanying of following to join, necessary for the operation of a vehicle for the duration of a trip."
- After-sales Service: Installers, repair and maintenance personnel, and supervisors, possessing specialized knowledge essential to a seller's contractual obligation, performing services or training workers to perform 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 Canada during the life of the warranty of service agreement. If the installation, warranty or service work has been contracted out to a third party, this must be clearly indicated on the sales agreement in order for an employee of the third party firm to be admitted as a business visitor.
- General Service: Professionals engaging in a business activity at a professional level in a profession set out in the table below in the section on professionals. Management and supervisory personnel engaging in a commercial transaction for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico. Financial services personnel (insurers, bankers or investment brokers) engaging in commercial transactions for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico. Public relations and advertising personnel consulting with clients or colleagues, or attending or participating in conventions. Tourism professionals attending or participating in conventions or conducting a tour that began in the United States or Mexico. Translators or interpreters performing services as employees of an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico.
Requirements for Business Visitors
Business visitors, in addition to meeting the above criteria, must also be able to do the following:
- Provide proof (e.g. a letter from your employer) that you plan to engage in an approved business activity (those set out in Appendix 1603.A.1 of the NAFTA and listed above) and describing the purpose of your entry into Canada.
- Provide proof (e.g. a letter from your employer) explaining that the proposed business activity is international in scope and that you are not planning on entering the Canadian labor market, by showing that (i) the primary source of remuneration for the proposed business activity is outside Canada; and (ii) that your principal place of business and the actual place of accrual of profits, at least predominantly, remain outside Canada.
- If you are a "professional" (see table below in section on professionals) you may qualify for entry under the general service provision of the business visitor category. You must be able to prove that you have the minimum education requirements listed in the table for your profession (a letter from your employer or a copy of your professional license, certification, accreditation or registration suffices).
- If you are seeking entry as an after-sales service person, you must provide copies of the original sales, warranty, or service agreement, and any extension to this agreement.
Length of Stay
Business visitors are generally given permission to stay in Canada for a period of up to six months. For after-sales service personnel the duration of the stay granted is generally equivalent to the amount of time required to carry out the service obligation.
Business visitors that travel to Canada frequently over an extended period of time and always enter for the same reason can request, at the Canadian point of entry, that a visitor record be issued to them. This document will facilitate subsequent visits to Canada. There is no cost to obtain a visitor record, but whether or not to issue one is at the discretion of the immigration officer.
Types of Travelers
According to NAFTA, a professional is: "...a business person seeking to engage in a business activity at a professional level in a profession set out in Appendix 1603.D.1, if the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry..."
The arrangement to provide professional services can be as a result of an employee-employer relationship with a Canadian enterprise, a signed contract between the business person and a Canadian enterprise, or a signed contract between the business person's American or Mexican employer and a Canadian enterprise. Since this report is written for U.S. companies, the last option will be assumed in explaining the requirements below.
Under NAFTA, American and Mexican professionals are not subject to Canada's job validation process, whereby the Canadian employer must prove that there are no willing and qualified Canadians to fill the position. However, professionals do require an employment authorization from the Canadian government. The individual must also provide proof of the minimum education requirements or alternative credentials for their profession as set out in NAFTA. For professions not listed below, an employment authorization will be granted only if the Canadian employer is able to successfully show that there are no willing and qualified Canadians that can do the work required.
The professions set out in Appendix 1603.D.1 are as follows:
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster
- Graphic Designer
- Hotel Manager
- Industrial Designer
- Interior Designer
- Land Surveyor
- Landscape Architect
- Management Consultant
- Mathematician (including Statistician)
- Range Manager/Range Conservationalist
- Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary institution)
- Scientific Technician/Technologist
- Social Worker
- Technical Publications Writer
- Urban Planner (including Geographer)
- Vocational Counselor
- Medical Technologist
- Occupational Therapist
- Physician (teaching or research only)
- Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist
- Recreational Therapist
- Registered Nurse
- Agriculturalist (including Agronomist)
- Animal Breeder
- Animal Scientist
- Dairy Scientist
- Geophysicist (including Oceanographer)
- Plant Breeder
- Poultry Scientist
- Soil Scientist
- Teachers at post-secondary level institutions including College, Seminary, and University
Requirements for Professionals
Professionals are eligible for an employment authorization under NAFTA if they have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian enterprise in one of the above listed professions and are qualified in that profession. The following information must be provided:
- the proposed employer(s) in Canada
- the profession (including position title and duties) under which you are seeking entry
- the purpose of entry
- the anticipated length of stay
- the educational qualifications or alternative credentials required to perform the job
- the arrangements for remuneration of services to be rendered
Generally, a letter from the U.S. employer, a letter from the contracting Canadian enterprise, and a copy of all relevant educational qualifications should be presented.
Length of Stay
The length of stay for professionals is not limited. However, the situation must continue to be "temporary", i.e. the individual should plan to return to the U.S. and not be planning on remaining in Canada indefinitely. Professionals that qualify for temporary entry under NAFTA will be issued an employment authorization with a maximum duration of one year. Extensions may then be granted in one year increments.