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Back to basics Immigration Series: Business Visitor Class

June 19, 2013:

Given recent newsworthy events in the world of Canadian immigration, we thought it was a good idea to go back to basics on some Canadian immigration principles.

Various jurisdictions around the world – some of them long ago, some of them just recently – all have developed systems of admission for foreign nationals who come to their shores to participate in various economic activities.

Canada is among just a few jurisdictions that invented and pioneered this process. Now Canada remains one of the globally recognized leaders in effectively organizing and efficiently carrying out admission processes of permanent and temporary immigrants. In Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations provide legal foundation for admission policies and procedures including ones that apply to temporary business immigrants: business visitors and temporary foreign workers.

In this article, we will talk about the business visitors’ class. Business visitors are foreign nationals who travel to Canada to participate in business activities that include, but are not limited to attending a meeting, participating in a conference, or sharing knowledge and skills with colleagues. Business visitors remain on their foreign employers’ payroll and do not compete with Canadians for jobs. Some of them may present the required documentation and apply for admission at the Canadian port of entry on their arrival, others need to file an application with the Canadian visa post overseas and receive approval before they may board a flight to Canada.

Prior to traveling to Canada, it is important for a business visitor to understand which business activities they can be involved in to make sure they comply with Canadian law, and to know which activities they are not allowed to perform unless they qualified for, applied, and received an approval of their application for a work permit.

Basic requirements to qualify for a business visitor include: intent to stay for less than six months, no intent to enter the Canadian labour market, and the continued maintenance of the employee’s main place of business and source of income being outside of Canada. If consulting with a client, creating or installing a product, or teaching a class could be part of the visit, the foreign national may be required to obtain a work permit. This is because these professional activities may be considered entering the Canadian labour market. This means that they would be deemed to be performing activities which can be performed by Canadian citizens, or performing activities (whether paid or unpaid), for which Canadian citizens normally get paid.

It is increasingly important to understand the difference between activities that can be performed without a work permit and ones that require a work permit, because failure to comply with Canadian immigration law may result in very serious consequences that may include immigration arrest and detention, deportation, fines, and a few years of being barred from returning to Canada for any purpose and in any capacity.

Canadian business entities are also required to be in compliance with constantly changing immigration policy. Violators may be banned from hiring any foreign worker, from a short-term consultant to a long-term assignee, for two years and have their business name and address published on a government list available to the public.

It is in the foreign business visitors’ and Canadian business entities’ best interest to always seek advice from a licensed Canadian immigration professional before making their travel plans and plans to host foreign business person, respectfully. They have to understand whether they need a business visa, work authorization to work without a work permit, or required to apply for a work permit before making plans. They need all the required admission documents to be correctly prepared and filed in an appropriate and timely manner. They owe it to themselves to ensure they are qualified and approved to conduct their business activities in full compliance with Canadian immigration requirements.

In our next article we will talk about requirements for admission as a temporary foreign worker.

Immigration Counsel – Authorized Canadian Representative
For: All Points Relocation Service Inc.

Posted on June 19, 2013 in Newsletter

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