Canada Work Permits for EU Citizens under CETA

Canada now issues work permits to EU citizens in the light of provisions prescribed in the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The agreement came into effect in September 2017. It also outlines the work permit conditions for EU citizens who want to work in Canada and vice versa.

CETA Work Permits for Canada

CETA has enabled a number of EU citizens to apply for the Canadian work visa without needing to go through Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This means Canadian citizens won’t be given a special preference for a role EU citizens are also eligible for.

CETA establishes five categories wherein an EU citizen might be eligible for facilitated Canadian work authorization with no LMIA requirements.


1. CETA Business Visitor

CETA classifies business visitors into two types: short-term business visitors and the ones who come for investment purposes. The maximum length of stay for CETA business visitors is 90 days for any given six-month period. Business visitors making frequent visits to and from Canada can also be considered for issuing a visitor record similar to the one issued to temporary residents.

Activities Allowed to CETA Business Visitors

  • Meetings and consultations
  • Research and design
  • Marketing research
  • Training seminars
  • Translation and interpretation
  • Sales (no direct sale to the general public)
  • Purchasing
  • After-sales or after-lease service
  • Trade fairs and exhibitions
  • Commercial transactions
  • Tourism work and related activities

Restrictions for CETA Business Visitors

  • They can’t receive direct or indirect remuneration from a Canadian source.
  • They can’t be engaged in the supply of a service not mentioned in Annex 10-D.
  • They can’t sell a good or service to the general public.

2. CETA Intra-Company Transfer Visa

There are two core requirements to become eligible for the CETA Canada work permit as an Intra-corporate (company) transferee.

  • The applicant has been employed for at least 1 year by an enterprise registered in any EU member state at the time of applying.
  • The applicant is being provisionally transferred to any of the establishments (head office, branch, subsidiary, etc) of an EU-based enterprise.

CETA divides intra-company transferees into further three categories.

  • Senior personnel: People who assume a role in enterprise in an executive capacity. They are issued the CETA work permit in this category for up to three years. It can be extended to up to 18 months if the applicant provides a satisfactory explanation for their extended stay.
  • Specialists: Professionals with specialized knowledge as per defined in North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) falls into this category. Their length of stay and extension details are the same as of senior personnel.
  • Graduate trainees: These applicants must have a university degree and are being provisionally moved to an organization in Canada for training and career development courses. They are issued a CETA work permit for one year or the length of their contract with no extension permitted under the same category (graduate trainee).

Spouses of EU citizens eligible for CETA intra-company transfer visa will be eligible for an open work permit for the same duration allowed to their spouses.

Learn more about eligibility requirements for Intra-Company Transfer Visa.

3. CETA Investor Work Permit

CETA Investor work permits identify three types of applicants.

  • EU citizens who are bringing direct investment to Canada (the investor themselves).
  • EU citizens who are supposed to devise, develop, and manage investment operations in a supervisory or executive capacity (they can also apply as business visitors for investment purposes).
  • EU citizens employed by an organization that has pledged or in the process of bringing a considerable amount of capital in Canada.

CETA work permit for investors in this category is issued for one year. It can be extended upon providing a satisfactory explanation and is subjected to the immigration officer’s discretion. 

Learn more about eligibility requirements for Investor Work Permit.

4. CETA Work Permits for Independent Professionals and Contractual Service Suppliers

CETA defines two types of professionals: Independent professionals and contractual service suppliers. CETA also furnishes a list of service sectors from which both these types of professionals can apply for the CETA work permit.

General Criteria

EU citizens applying in either service supplier contractor or independent professional capacity must fulfill these criteria.

  • They must possess a university degree or an equivalent qualification for the given field.
  • They must have the professional qualification to carry out a certain activity in accordance with the laws and regulations of the local jurisdiction (province or territory) where their services are required.
  • They are engaged in the provisional supply of a service for a duration not exceeding 12 months (for longer durations, the CETA commitments will only applicable for the first 12 months of the contract).

Independent professionals and contractual service suppliers can stay for up to 12 months or their length of the contract (if it is shorter) in a 24-month period. The immigration officer can exceed this duration to 24 months if they are satisfied by the reasons provided by the applicants.

Specific Criteria for Independent Professionals

  • They have to supply a service on a provisional basis as a self-employed individual to a Canadian consumer.
  • They must have six years (as of the date of CETA work permit application submission) of professional experience of serving in the sector they have mentioned in the subject of their contract.

Specific Criteria for Contractual Service Suppliers

  • They are supposed to supply service as an employee of an enterprise temporarily.
  • They have been employed in an EU-headquartered organization for at least 12 months before the application submission.
  • They must possess three years of professional experience in the given sector of activity.
  • They don’t receive remunerations except for what their organization pays them.

5. CETA Work Permits for Engineering and Scientific Technologists

CETA classifies technologists into two categories: scientific and engineering. Scientific and engineering technologists are subjected to the same criteria as we have discussed for independent professional and contractual suppliers above except for the academic requirements.

Academic Criterion for Engineering Technologists

  • They must have a 3-year post-secondary degree from an officially recognized engineering technology institute. The degree will be considered equivalent to a university degree.

Academic Criterion for Scientific Technologists

  • They must have a 3-year post-secondary degree in the discipline of agriculture, architecture, chemistry, biology, forestry, physics, geology, geophysics, mining, or energy from an officially recognized institute. This degree will also be treated as a university degree.

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