Posted on - Oct 04, 2017

By Catherine A. Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

On September 17, 2017 the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into force providing for the exchange of services between Canada and the European Union (EU). CETA provides for the entry of business visitors, independent professionals and contractual service providers as well as intra-company transferees. Annex 10 E provides the complete list of the occupations which are covered under the CETA agreement.

CETA is the sixth bi-lateral trade agreement that provides for the exchange of services between member nations with Canada. Canada also has trade agreements with Chile, Columbia, Peru and Korea as well as with the USA and Mexico under NAFTA that allow for exchange of services in addition to trade. Each agreement is unique and provides an Annex or Schedule which specifies the occupations that are covered pursuant to the agreement. The occupations listed under the agreement are generally for highly skilled professional, academic or technical occupations with some agreements also providing for skilled tradespersons.

The CETA agreement permits entry for short term business visitors and investors without the need for a work permit. Independent professionals, contractual service providers and intra-company transferees must apply for work permits which can be done at the port of entry or at Canadian visa offices abroad. The agreement also provides that spouses of qualifying work permit applicants can also apply for open work permits.

Trade agreements that allow for the exchange of services for specified occupations, facilitate work permit issuance for Canadians businesses without the need to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which is paper intensive, costly and time consuming often taking six months or more for applications to be assessed. CETA is the most far-reaching of all of Canada’s bi-lateral trade agreements as it permits the exchange of services between Canada and all of the member nations of the EU. Not surprisingly there are certain restrictions and limitations as to who is eligible for a work permit or for how long they may be issued a permit for.

For employers struggling to locate foreign workers, trade agreements can be a speedy way to augment their labour force. These agreements also provide an excellent way for international businesses to establish in Canada and transfer experienced personnel as intra-company transferees. For any business facing labour shortages, becoming familiar with Canada’s trade agreements may be a good way to locate foreign workers to bring to Canada in a more streamlined fashion than the LMIA application process.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 5 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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