June 24th 2021 – Business visitors are usually able to stay in Canada for up to 6 months, but the border services officer may sometimes allow a stay exceeding 6 months by issuing a document named a “visitor record” extending (or restricting) the stay duration in Canada. If a business visitor is allowed by the border services to stay more than 6 months, the border services will note the date by which the business visitor must leave Canada in their passport.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) considers a series of criteria in order to issue visitor visas to business travelers depending on the sector and purpose of the business conducted by the person in Canada. Business travelers looking to qualify as a business visitor to Canada must show that they:
– Are coming for international business activities without directly entering the Canadian labour market;
– Are coming to visit Canada temporarily to: look for ways to grow business, invest or advance business relationships;
– Plan to stay for less than 6 months;
– Have a main place of business and source of income and profits outside Canada;
– Have documents that support the visitor visa application
– Meet Canada’s basic entry requirements, including:
- have a valid travel document, such as a passport;
- have enough money for the stay and to return home;
- plan to leave Canada at the end of the visit;
- not being a criminal, security or health risk to Canadians.
Acceptable Activities While Visiting Canada on Business
IRCC provides the list of the activities allowed for the business travelers:
– Buying Canadian goods or services for a foreign business or government;
– Taking orders for goods or services;
– Going to meetings, conferences, conventions, or trade fairs;
– Giving after-sales service as part of a warranty or sales agreement;
– Being trained by a Canadian parent company of their employer outside Canada;
– Training employees of a Canadian branch of a foreign company;
– Being trained by a Canadian company that has sold you equipment or services;
– Under the Canada – United States – Mexico Agreement, a U.S. or Mexican national may also take part in other activities, such as research, marketing, and general services as examples;
The requirements are in constant evolution. In some specific situations, such as carrying out secretarial, managerial, technical, or production activities or staying longer than six months in Canada, the business visitor may have no choice but to apply for a work permit.
In some circumstances, business visitors can be allowed to conduct business activities in Canada that usually require a work permit. It is the case when a business visitor is considered as “not planning to enter the Canadian labour market”, such as:
– The primary source of the remuneration for the business activity remains outside Canada;
– The principal place of business of the foreign national is located outside Canada; and
– The accrual of profits remains outside Canada.
A business visitor will also be allowed to work in Canada without a work permit if the business activity of the foreign national is international in scope. For instance, IRCC considers being international in scope an activity that is not engaging with the general public in Canada and is either purchasing for a foreign company or receiving training from a Canadian parent or subsidiary of a foreign company.
The case of short-term training
Business visitors are allowed to provide or receive short-term training in Canada under some circumstances. The immigration regulations and particularly Paragraph 187(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation (IRPR) define the following individuals as business visitors for the purpose of Paragraph 186(1)(a):
(a) foreign nationals purchasing Canadian goods or services for a foreign business or government, or receiving training or familiarization in respect of such goods or services;
(b) foreign nationals receiving or giving training within a Canadian parent or subsidiary of the corporation that employs them outside Canada, if any production of goods or services that results from the training is incidental; (…)
IRCC considers that business visitors are normally allowed to:
– Be trained by a Canadian parent company that they work for outside Canada;
– Train employees of a Canadian branch of a foreign company;
– Be trained by a Canadian company that has sold to the business visitor equipment or services;
– Be trained by a Canadian company in product use, sales, and other business transaction functions;
– Train prospective users or maintenance staff of the Canadian purchaser or leaser of specialized equipment obtained outside of Canada. This training or familiarization service should take place after the installation has been completed.
This provision may also apply to a trainer or specialized installer under an after-sales contract by the foreign branch (with the same conditions applying), as long as the service is provided company-wide and not just for the Canadian office.