If a foreign national is eligible for admission to Canada as a business visitor, they do not require a work permit. Given the potential consequences associated with working in Canada without the proper authorization and misrepresentation, it is recommended that each matter be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a foreign national is eligible for admission to Canada as a business visitor or whether they require a Canadian work permit.
If a foreign national is visiting Canada to conduct market research to assess the viability of establishing operations in Canada and / or advance business relationships in Canada, they may be eligible for admission to Canada as a business visitor.
Some examples of permissible business visitor activities, specifically in the context of establishing a business in Canada, include the following:
- Attending meetings with prospective investors, government bodies, private lending institutions, prospective customers, prospective contractors, etc.);
- Conducting local market research and analysis (e.g. identifying and profiling prospective customers, identifying and analyzing prospective markets, identifying existing and potential competitors, etc.); and
- Attending trade shows, conventions, and conferences.
If a foreign national requires a temporary resident visa (TRV) to enter Canada, they will be required to apply for a TRV and admission to Canada as a business visitor at a Canadian visa office abroad prior to travelling to Canada. However, if a foreign national does not require a TRV to enter Canada, they can apply for admission to Canada as a business visitor at a Canadian port-of entry.
The onus is on the foreign national to demonstrate that they are eligible for admission to Canada as a business visitor and it is ultimately within the discretion of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) whether or not the foreign national has met this burden of proof. Therefore, all foreign nationals seeking admission to Canada as a business visitor should have sufficient documentation to substantiate their eligibility for admission to Canada on this basis.