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Business Visitors | dRN Law LLP

Business Visitors

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 requires a temporary resident visa (TRV), also known as a visitor or tourist visa, to enter Canada, they will be required to apply for a visitor visa 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 visitor visa 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. 

Upon their entry to Canada, a foreign national may be directed to Secondary Screening for further examination particularly if they are coming to Canada for an extended period of time and / or there are questions and / or concerns regarding their documentation (or lack thereof). During the examination, the CBSA will likely ask the foreign national questions to confirm that they are eligible for admission to Canada as a business visitor and they do not require a work permit. Some typical questions the foreign national may be asked include the following:

  • How long will you be in Canada?
  • What is the purpose of your visit to Canada? 
  • Will you be remaining on foreign payroll? 
  • Who will you be meeting with while in Canada?
  • Are you bringing any tools or equipment into Canada?

The CBSA may request to examine the e-mails, calendar, etc. on the foreign national’s accompanying electronic devices (e.g. cell phone, laptop, iPad, etc.) as part of their examination. Further, the CBSA may contact their foreign employer and / or the host company in Canada to verify the information that the foreign national has provided. 

General Business Visitors

If a foreign national is coming to Canada to engage in international activities and they will not be entering the Canadian labour market, they may be eligible for admission to Canada as a general business visitor. To qualify for admission to Canada as a general business visitor, a foreign national must demonstrate that: 

  • They primarily reside outside of Canada;
  • Their main source of income is outside Canada;
  • Their principal place of business is outside of Canada; and
  • They are entering Canada solely to engage in international or cross-border business activities.

Some examples of permissible business visitor activities include the following:

  • Attending board of director meetings;
  • Passively attending business meetings;
  • Attending a conference; 
  • Observing (but not directing) activities on site; 
  • Negotiating a contract in Canada on behalf of a foreign entity;
  • Exhibiting goods at an event; and
  • Participating in intra-company training. 

Business Visitors Providing After-Sales Services

If a foreign national is coming to Canada to provide services related to the sale or lease of equipment, they may be eligible for admission to Canada as a business visitor providing after-sales services. To qualify for admission to Canada as a business visitor providing after-sales services, a foreign national must demonstrate that:

  • A foreign entity has sold or leased industrial or commercial equipment to an entity in Canada; 
  • They are coming to Canada to supervise the installation of the equipment or to commission, test, repair, or service the equipment;
  • These services form part of the original or extended sale or lease agreement or a warranty or service agreement which was negotiated as part of the original or extended sale or lease agreement; and
  • They will not be performing any “hands on” work which is typically performed by construction or building trades (e.g. electricians, pipe fitters, etc.). 

If a foreign national is coming to Canada to service equipment which is no longer under warranty or covered by a sale or lease agreement, they will require a work permit. 

If a foreign national is seeking admission to Canada as a business visitor providing after-sales services for more than two days, the CBSA is supposed to direct them to Secondary Screening for further examination. If the foreign national is granted admission to Canada as a business visitor providing after-sales services for more than two days, the CBSA is supposed to issue them a visitor record.