Canada: Twelve Tips And Observations For Employers Whose Employees Travel To Canada On Business

Employers will be interested in these 12 key observations and tips for when employees travel to Canada on business. Indeed, for employers who require employees to engage in international business travel to Canada, the border is an important venue for making applications for entry on a temporary basis in situations where a work permit is required, and for consideration under a work permit exempt category. Understanding the dynamics of border or port-of-entry processing is therefore critical.

Tip #1 – Preparing Employees for Travel

Help your foreign national employees or service providers understand the Canadian immigration system prior to travel to Canada.

For example: The first government officials you will encounter when you arrive in Canada are Canada customs officers. Their job is to decide who goes into "Immigration Secondary" for further questioning/processing.

Tip #2 - Work Permit Determination

It is important to make a decision in advance of travel to Canada about whether your employees require a work permit or not.

Whether you are consulting with in-house or external legal counsel, or seeking advice from human resource professionals inside or outside of your company, get a definitive opinion on what possible immigration documents your foreign national employees may require that will allow them to lawfully carry out their activities in Canada.

If a work permit is required, your foreign national employees may be able to pick it up at the border when they arrive in Canada, or they may be required to file that application through a Canadian consulate or embassy abroad.

Tip #3 - Criminality Issues

Advise your employees that any past criminal charges or convictions may result in issues with their admittance to Canada.

In some cases, previous criminality can be overcome and admittance can be achieved through special temporary immigration pardons called Temporary Resident Permits.

Addressing these issues in advance by filing the appropriate paperwork for a Temporary Resident Permit gives the application a much better chance of success than simply relying on the discretion of an immigration officer to allow entry based on the person's verbal account.

Tip #4 - Temporary Resident Visas

Nationals of certain prescribed countries require special entry visas called Temporary Resident Visas for even a two-hour meeting in Canada, even if they have lawful temporary status in the United States.

These visas can only be applied for at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate outside Canada and can take days/weeks to obtain.

If your employee shows up at the border and does not have the requisite Temporary Resident Visa, he or she will be denied entry to Canada even if he or she did qualify for a work permit or entry under a specific work permit exempt category.

Tip #5 - Medicals

In some cases, an immigration medical is required in advance of travel to Canada — typically if a person has been residing in a designated country such as China or Russia.

Immigration medicals are required if the person has spent six consecutive months living in one of those countries, and intends to spend six months or more in Canada.

If a person needs an immigration medical prior to entry to Canada, they are required to do all of their immigration processing through a Canadian Embassy or Consulate as opposed to the border/port. This can delay entry for weeks or months.

Tip #6 – Supporting Documentation

It is a very good idea to equip your employees (even for short stays) with some type of supporting documentation, such as a support letter that clearly explains the nature and purpose for the visit to Canada and asks for admission based on a specific work permit exempt or work permit category.

Coach your employees to read their support letters carefully in advance so that they can provide consistent answers to questions posed by Customs and Immigration Officials.

Tip #7 – Additional Supporting Materials

Certain work permit categories require additional documentation such as proof of existing business relationships with a company in Canada or a certain level of educational achievement/work experience.

If your employee is making an application in one of those categories, make sure he or she is travelling with all necessary paperwork. Failing to do so may result in the denial of the application.

Tip #8 – Canada Customs

Coach your employees to be clear and specific at the Canada Customs booth when they first arrive so that they stand the best chance of getting a correct referral into Immigration Secondary if a work permit is required, or, if they do not require a work permit, of getting referred directly into the country without a secondary examination.

For example: When asked by Customs, "What is the purpose of your trip?" The employee should truthfully state, "I am going to internal meetings with our Canadian subsidiary for two days." This gives the person a much better chance of avoiding the Immigration Secondary area than saying, "I am here for business."

It is a good idea to have, and read, the supporting documentation well in advance and to encourage employees to ask about the application and the process at port of entry. This will alleviate possible apprehension about the event, and will allow for a more credible presentation. It also places employees in a better position to advocate on their own behalf if they get an officer who doubts the validity of some or all of the submissions in the support letter after assessing the verbal responses of the applicant to see if there are any inconsistencies between what the employee states are his or her reasons for coming to Canada and what the letter purports. Understanding the process itself allows employees to avoid making mistakes like trying to apply for the permit at the primary inspection line (PIL), or being content to be erroneously admitted into the country at PIL, which eliminates their immediate ability to apply for a work permit without re-presenting themselves at the port of entry. This is particularly problematic if they are arriving via aircraft, and/or are far away from a land border.

Tip #9 – Having a Backup Plan

If a person is determined by Canada Immigration to require a work permit, and has unsuccessfully tried to argue for admission in a work permit exempt category, they might be denied entry to Canada.

It is always sensible to canvass off multiple options with your legal advisor in advance.

For example: Based on the facts, you think that the person should be able to come into Canada as a business visitor, which is a work permit exempt category, but the officer processing the case disagrees. If there is a specific work permit category that the person also fits into, the officer may entertain that and allow entry.

Tip #10 – Misrepresentation

Making any type of misrepresentation at the border, however innocent, can result in denial of entry into Canada, and in some cases, a two-year ban from the country.

There is a misconception among some that not being truthful at the border is not a big deal, but actually, this is equivalent in severity to presenting false evidence before a federal government enforcement officer and lying to a police officer.

No matter how inconvenient, always advise employees to respond to questions posed by customs and immigration officials in a completely honest manner.

Tip #11 – Port of Entry

Use the appropriate port of entry and understand the particulars of each office culture just like Visa Posts.

While this skill is primarily honed by trial and error, it is always a good idea to assess where the best places are to have your employees make their application for entry. Certain ports of entry have a more facilitative culture, or have more experience with business travellers so are more adept at processing those types of cases.

Tip #12 – Entry Refusal

Do not "venue shop" after a negative decision.

If your employee is refused entry at a particular port of entry, a good rule of thumb is not to try the same application again at another location. There are exceptions to this general rule, but usually a negative decision will be entered into the Immigration Computer in the Field Operations Support System (FOSS), and another port of entry will not look kindly on your employee trying to "sneak" into Canada by attempting to circumvent the decision of the first office. It is best to try and resolve things with the first port by discussing the case with the officer concerned, or the supervisor.

The Bottom Line

Port-of-entry processing can be a seamless facilitative venture when an application goes smoothly, but an extremely frustrating, stressful and negative experience if the application goes badly. It can result in your employee being denied entry to the country, or unduly delayed in being issued the appropriate documentation by the Canadian Border Services Agency. We hope that the practical tips advice we've provided will assist you in advising your employees on how to make an application and what to expect when that application is handled at the border.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.