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Executive Summaries Mar 25, 2019

Myths and Practical Advice for Business Travellers to Canada

The question most often asked by our clients and which, in many cases, is the most difficult to answer, is: "What is the difference between a business traveller and a worker?" 

As far as Canadian immigration is concerned, there is no strict definition of what constitutes work. The definition is broad, with a philosophy aimed at protecting the local labour market. In other words, anything that competes directly with the activities of local workers in Canada constitutes work. 

How to Know Where You Stand 

In all cases, it is necessary to investigate and ask questions in order to understand the nature of the activities the traveller will be carrying out during their stay in Canada. Will the person be paid in Canada? Is the traveller's time billable to a Canadian customer? Will the traveller supervise employees in Canada or perform activities that will involve a Canadian company? These are just a few of the many questions that should be asked to determine the status under which a foreign national may be admitted and the type of document that will be required to ensure that the traveller is compliant with immigration laws and regulations in Canada. 

Debunking 5 Myths About Work Permits in Canada

Over the years we have heard several myths about the need for a work permit in Canada. Here are five myths we would like to debunk to help you make a more informed decision the next time you ask yourself whether a work permit is required or not: 

1. "But I get paid abroad!" Just because someone is paid abroad does not mean that their activities will not be considered work.

2. "European passport superpowers!" This is not necessarily the case, do not assume that you will be allowed to enter as a visitor.

3. "I share my whole life on social media!" Social media follows you to the border! Don't brag to your friends about your next trip to Canada. 

4. "It's only for a few days!" Regardless of the duration, a work permit may be required depending on the nature of the activities.

5. "What if I leave for a few days and come back?" High travel frequency may put the traveller on the radar of immigration authorities.

Proactive Solutions to Consider

To avoid finding yourself in a situation where a traveller is refused admission to Canada, we suggest a few preventive solutions:

  • Implement control measures for your business visitors; 
     
  •  Monitor frequent travellers and implement travel tracking tools; 
     
  • Establish a clear decision-making hierarchy for all business visitors; and
     
  • Be sure to provide your travellers with letters of invitation explaining the reasons for their stay in Canada.

To conclude, we would like to add that it is often easier to apply for a work permit or benefit from a legal exemption than to fix a situation that has gone wrong!

To learn more about the intricacies of business immigration, please contact our lawyers Christina Karadimos and Elsa Agostinho.

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