As of April 1, vaccinated travellers will be able to cross the Canadian border without presenting a negative COVID-19 test at the border. The most recent changes to the Canadian border entry regulations will make travel more attractive, as the regulations will open the border to vaccinated, non-essential travellers.
With the border as open to travel as it has been at any point since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, travel for all purposes will likely increase. Business travel, in particular, may become more appealing for companies that operate on both sides of the border as no testing requirement reduces the cost and risk of cross-border travel.
Depending on the length of stay and the nature of the visit, some travellers can come to Canada as business visitors without requiring a full work visa. The Canadian government defines a business visitor as someone who has come to Canada to participate in international business activities without being part of the Canadian labour market and/or is visiting Canada temporarily to look for ways to grow their business, invest, and advance business relationships.
Business visitors generally stay in Canada for a short time, from a few days to a few weeks. However, business visitors are permitted to stay in Canada for up to six months. For stays of longer than six months, a business visitor qualification is not enough. If a stay for more than six months is planned, the visitor may be considered a temporary worker and may have to apply for a work permit.
There are some conditions a visitor must meet to qualify as a business visitor in Canada. To qualify as a business visitor, the visitor must plan to stay in Canada for less than six months, not plan to enter the Canadian labour market, have their main place of business and source of income and profit outside of Canada, and have documents that support their application to be a business visitor.
Further, the visitor must meet Canada’s basic entry requirements like having a valid travel document, such as a passport, enough money for their stay and to return home, having a plan to leave Canada at the end of the visit, and not being a criminal, security, or health risk to Canadians. To satisfy a Canadian Border Services Agency officer that you are a business visitor, it is a good idea to also travel with a letter of support from your foreign employer or an invitation from your Canadian host, contact details for your Canadian host, and contracts, conference materials or other documentation relating to your visit. Longer stays may require additional documentation in order to help establish business visitor eligibility.
Fully vaccinated travellers may enter Canada as of April 1 without providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test at the border. However, to enter as a business visitor, there are a few additional requirements needed before entry is allowed, depending on where the visitor is coming from. Certain countries may require a visitor visa in order for the visitor to come to Canada. The Canadian Government makes an important distinction between business people and business visitors. Business people are those who do work in Canada under a free trade agreement. Business people do not require a visa in order to enter Canada.
The activities that a business visitor can conduct during their stay in Canada partly depend on the country the visitor is from. Visitors from any country can:
The United States and Mexico Nationals have additional privileges as business visitors under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. Under the Agreement, the United States and Mexican nationals can take part in activities, not on the above list, such as research, marketing, and general services.
If someone wants to come to Canada for business for more than six months, in most cases, they require a work permit. There are employer-specific work permits and open work permits. The most common type of work permit is the employer-specific work permit which allows the applicant to work in a specific role for a specific employer. To qualify for this work permit, the applicant must have a job offer before they come to Canada. Visa-exempt applicants can apply at the port of entry for this work permit.
Openwork permits are not specific to any job or employer; they allow the applicant to seek employment anywhere in Canada for the entirety of the length of the permit. Openwork permits are less common and are more likely to be granted to The spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student in Canada, international students at in Canada who qualify for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, dependent family members of someone who has applied for permanent residence in Canada, and holders of employer-specific work permits who are being abused or at risk of being abused at their place of work.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law regularly help clients who seek entry into Canada as business visitors by helping ensure clients have the proper documentation to meet the eligibility hurdles involved. If you have any questions about if you will be able to travel during these uncertain times, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.
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