Canada: Canada – EU Free Trade Agreement: CETA To Provide Canadian Companies With Increased International Mobility Options

Last Updated: September 25 2017
Article by Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Most Read Contributor in Canada, November 2018

The provisions of the CETA came into force on September 21.

Foreign nationals who are citizens of an EU member state now have more options for obtaining LMIA-exempt work permits to Canada.

Some key highlights of the CETA provisions include:

Intra-corporate (company) Transferee:

This new category is very similar to the existing C12 and NAFTA exemption for intra-company transfers. However, there is the addition of a new class of applicants: Graduate Trainees. The Graduate Trainee must possess a university degree and be coming to Canada for career development. A work permit can be issued for up to one year.

Thus, the CETA intra-company transfer has three classes of applicants: Senior Managers, Specialized Knowledge Workers and Graduate Trainees.

Spouses of CETA intra-corporate work permit holders are also eligible for work permits. However, there is no new benefit in this provision as open spousal work permits were already available to spouses of foreign national work permit holders (this provision was enacted to enable Canadian spouses to obtain open work permits in the EU, which has been very restricted in many countries).


The CETA adds two new types of Professionals – the Independent Professionals (similar to the NAFTA Professional category) and the Contractual Service Suppliers. These are indeed new options that will give Canadian companies more latitude in utilizing the temporary services of EU citizens. Under this category, work permits can be issued for a cumulative period of no more than 12 months in any 24-month period or for the duration of the service contract, whichever is less. Extensions are only possible at an officer's discretion.

General criteria for Contractual Service Suppliers and Independent Professionals:

1. Applicants in either Professional category must be:

  • engaged in the temporary supply of a service for a period not exceeding 12 months

    • If longer than 12 months, the commitments in CETA will only apply for the initial 12 months of the contract

  • contracted to provide a service in accordance with the Annex 10-E concordance table.

  • Examples of the permitted professions are: Engineers, Computer Systems Analysts, Accountants, and Management Consultants. These are similar to the NAFTA. However, there are several occupation categories that are part of the CETA that are not part of the NAFTA, such as: Financial and Insurance Managers (advisory and consulting only), Advertising Managers, and Market Research Managers. It is important to note that the list of approved occupations for a Contractual Service Supplier is broader than the list of approved occupations for an Independent Professional.

2. Applicants in either Professional category must possess:

  • a university degree or a qualification demonstrating knowledge of an equivalent level

  • professional qualifications if required to practice an activity pursuant to the laws or requirements in the province or territory where the service is supplied

3. Independent Professional means a self-employed professional who has a contract to supply a service to a Canadian consumer.

In addition to the general criteria listed above, as an Independent Professional, the applicant must also:

  • be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as a self-employed person

  • possess at least six years of professional experience in the sector of activity that is the subject of the contract as of the date of submission of an application for entry into Canada

Example: A self-employed Italian management consultant seeks entry to Canada to provide services to a technology company under the terms of a pre-arranged contract.

4. Contractual Service Supplier means an employee of an enterprise in the EU who has a contract to supply a service to a Canadian consumer. The EU enterprise cannot have an establishment in Canada.

In addition to the general criteria listed above, as a contractual service supplier, the applicant must also:

  • be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as an employee of an enterprise that has obtained a service contract

  • have been an employee of the EU-headquartered enterprise for at least one year prior to application

  • possess three years of professional experience in the sector of activity that is the subject of the contract at the date of submission

  • not receive remuneration for the provision of services other than the remuneration paid by the enterprise employing the contractual service suppliers during his/her stay in Canada

Example A Canadian high-tech company contracts the services of a Greek firm to provide services in the field of engineering. An experienced software engineer employed by the Greek firm in Thessaloniki seeks entry to Canada to provide the engineering services under the terms of the pre-arranged services contract.

The CETA also has a defined category for Business Visitors (which is not more expansive than our current business visitor rules) and Investors (which is new).


These changes are a welcome improvement to the existing work permit processing system. Specific details concerning the nuts and bolts of the application process are still being released. Once we are able to review the process from start to finish, we will be able to develop solutions to address your company's specific immigration needs. Over the coming months, we will be able to analyze the effectiveness of these new provisions.  

About Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Norton Rose Fulbright is a global law firm. We provide the world's preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have 3800 lawyers and other legal staff based in more than 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Recognized for our industry focus, we are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of legal service in each of our offices and to maintain that level of quality at every point of contact.

For more information about Norton Rose Fulbright, see

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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.

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