You are the Human Resources Director for a Canadian-based
company that has affiliates and subsidiaries in numerous countries.
One of your responsibilities is to manage the temporary foreign
workers employed by your company in Canada. All individuals are
subject to Canadian immigration laws that apply to temporary
foreign workers, unless they are either a Canadian citizen or a
Canadian permanent resident. Under these laws, every person who
participates in employment in Canada requires a work permit. The
definition of employment is very broad, and most business
travellers to Canada fall into this category.
Working In Canada Temporarily: Relevant Considerations
But when do you require a work permit? The Foreign Worker
Manual assists in interpreting the Immigration and Refugee
Protection Act and Citizenship and Immigration Canada's
policy with respect to temporary foreign workers. According to the
Manual, if an individual performs an activity that will
result in payment or remuneration, he or she will be considered to
be engaging in work. This includes salary or wages paid by an
employer to an employee, remuneration or commission received for
fulfilling a service contract, or any other situation where a
foreign national receives payment for performing a service.
The first step for any employer is to assess whether a
foreign-based employee requires a work permit for his or her trip
to Canada. Whether the person will be travelling to Canada for two
days or two years is not necessarily relevant. What is much more
important is the type of activity the person will engage in while
in Canada, and the company or people with whom the traveller will
There are some limited categories that exempt the individual
from the need to obtain a work permit. These include the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Business Visitors and NAFTA
After Sales Service Personnel.
Obtaining A Work Permit
If a work permit is necessary for an individual to participate
in business activities in Canada, the next step is to determine
which category he or she may be eligible under, and where the
person is eligible to apply for the permit. This can usually be
accomplished by forwarding a copy of the employee's resume and
a detailed description of the proposed activities to your
immigration lawyer for consideration.
Once the proper route to apply for the work permit has been
established, there are other factors to consider to ensure
compliance with Canadian immigration legislation. The employee who
is travelling to Canada or being transferred may require a special
entry document called a temporary resident visa if he or she is a
citizen of a prescribed country such as South Africa or Brazil.
This visa must be obtained through a Canadian Consulate in advance
and cannot be applied for at the border, otherwise the employee may
be refused entry to Canada. This document is required regardless of
the purpose of the trip or the duration of the stay in Canada.
Similarly, if the employee has a previous criminal record or
serious health problem, he or she may be denied entry to the
country. Finally, an individual may be required under certain
circumstances to take an "immigration medical
examination" prior to travelling to Canada.
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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