You are the Human Resources Director for a Canadian-based IT
company with 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
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 IT company 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 needing to obtain a work permit. These include the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Business Visitors and the
NAFTA After Sales Service Personnel categories.
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
what 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.
Two of the more common Service Canada Labour Market Opinion
(LMO) exempt categories that are available to IT companies are:
the IT Pilot Project, which allows for foreign nationals who
qualify under seven different IT occupations to apply for work
the NAFTA Professional Computer Systems Analyst category, which
is only available to qualified American or Mexican citizens.
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 IT
professional 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 IT professional 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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