The Canadian business immigration benefits for EU nationals following the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

Posted on 11th January, 2017

Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Canada implemented the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, referred to as CETA, earlier in 2017. 

CETA’s immigration provisions will provide a number of benefits for EU workers and business visitors.  These include:

“Enhanced” Intra-Company Transfer Provisions

The basic concepts employed for intra-company transferees from around the world are otherwise enshrined in CETA, including allowances for ‘Senior Personnel’ (parallel to those having executive capacity), and ‘Specialists’ (parallel to those having specialized knowledge). However, CETA adds a third type of intra-company transferee, the ‘Graduate Trainee’. The criteria for such trainees is that they:

(a) possess a university degree, and

(b) are being temporarily transferred to an enterprise in Canada for career development purposes or to obtain training in business techniques or methods.

Such trainees may receive work permits for the lesser of the length of their assignment contract and one year. No extensions are permitted.

Contractual Service Suppliers and Independent Professionals

CETA also provides some relief with regard to EU nationals acting as foreign service providers on contracts requiring their skills to be delivered in Canada, whether a principal service-based contract or on an after-sales service.

The provisions of this category apply to certain industry sectors, which can be found here. There are different sectors in the two categories, but some examples of the types of industries include engineering, computer and related services, manufacturing advisory, and legal advisory. Further, within these sectors, the nature of the position must fall within National Occupational Code (NOC) levels ‘0’ (management) or ‘A’ (usually requiring a university degree). Work permits will be granted for a maximum of 12 months. To qualify as a Contractual Service Supplier or Independent Professional, applicants must have:

(a) a university degree or a qualification demonstrating knowledge of an equivalent level, and

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

Note the distinctions between Contractual Service Suppliers and Independent Contractors

(a) Contractual Service Suppliers are employees of an EU enterprise that has no Canadian establishment, where there is a contract by their company to provide a service to a Canadian customer. The employee must have been with the EU enterprise for at least one year, and possess three years of relevant professional experience.

(b) Independent professionals are self-employed professionals, contracted to supply a service to a Canadian customer. Such applicants must be engaged in the supply of the service as a self-employed person, and must possess at least six years of relevant professional experience.

EU nationals as Investors

Investors are EU citizen who will establish or develop, on their own behalf, or on behalf of their employer, Canadian operations. Their roles must be supervisory or executive, and the investment must be ‘substantial’. Initial work permits are for one year, with extensions possible.

EU Business Visitors to Canada

CETA provides for two categories of business visitors – short-term business visitors, and business visitors for investment purposes. The provisions that allow for these business visitations are in addition to rights that might otherwise exist for ‘ordinary’ business visitors.

Short-term business visits are for up to 90 days in any six-month period, and allow for brief visits, typically for a specific project. The activities permitted can be found here. Certainly, many of the activities parallel ordinary business visitor provisions, but are defined at this site.

Business visitors for investment purposes are EU visitors in a managerial or specialist capacity responsible for setting up a Canadian enterprise, where the person does not engage in direct transactions with the general public, and is not remunerated from Canada. This presumably is a lead-in to a potential future Investor work permit as set out above.


EU businesses should be quick to take advantage of the opportunities CETA brings to moving EU nationals to Canada to take advantage of the much wider, exciting  opportunities promised by this  long awaited trade deal.

For further information or to discuss any of the issues raised, please contact Benjamin Kranc ( on +001 (416) 977-7500.