Canadian Immigration Regulations On General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
The GATS - Canadian Immigration regulations where enacted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada because the Canadian government signed a GATS Trade Agreement.
These regulations tend to show a trend for future immigration regulations, which may come into effect in the next few years as global standardization is implemented in international trade under the WTO. GATS immigration regulations are not very widely used by companies operating within Canada or by those companies who wish to operate in Canada and who may also transfer executives and foreign professionals to Canada. There are also many countries that have signed the GATS agreement but who have not enacted immigration regulations in compliance with the GATS agreement (e.g. USA does not have GATS related immigration regulations.)
There are more than 130 countries that are in the process of implementing GATS, providing market access and national treatment for Foreign Service providers in specific sectors. A company located in any of these 130 nations can take advantage of GATS.
The main purpose of GATS immigration regulations is to facilitate the entry of business personnel, technical personnel and executives of a company located in one of the member nations (e.g. Fiji) to a company located in another member nation (e.g. Canada) with which it is already doing or wishes to do business with, or plans to open a branch office or subsidiary in other member nations.
Canadian immigration regulations under GATS:
Under the GATS regulation of Canada, three types of individuals are allowed to enter Canada.
1. Business visitors;
The main advantage of the GATS regulation is that individuals who are entering in to Canada as visitors are not required to obtain a “Job Validation” from Human Resources Development Canada (Labour certification from HRDC, which is the labour department of Canada, confirming that no suitable Canadian is available to do the job) and do not need to apply for Employment Authorization at the Canadian visa office abroad. The individuals entering in to Canada as intra company transferees, employees and professionals do not need job validation from HRDC and can apply for Employment Authorization at the Canada immigration post abroad or at the port of entry.
There are separate requirements for each of the above-mentioned categories. However, there are some general requirements for all the three categories. These requirements are:
1. The individual must be a citizen of and must be living in a member country or must be a permanent resident of Australia, New Zealand or Switzerland.
2. The individual should be working in any one of the following service sectors.
i. Business services
Out of the 11 services agreed upon in the GATS agreement, the Canadian
government did not include three service sectors that facilitate the entry
of individuals in Canada, namely,
3. An applicant may apply in any one of the above-mentioned categories i to viii. It is important that he seeks only a temporary entry in to Canada. The burden is on the applicant to prove that he wishes to enter Canada temporarily and will return to his home country on completion of his work in Canada. His status in Canada will be that of a “Visitor”.
4. As the applicant is on a visitor status, he will be required to fulfill
other requirements of the Canada Immigration Act and Regulation such as
disclosing facts about medical conditions, criminal records, passport
and other identification documents.
1. Business Visitor:
This category facilitates the entry of a businessperson who represents a service provider company from a member nation and who wishes to market the services of his company in Canada or wishes to establish a commercial presence in Canada in order to sell those services.
The business activities for which businesspersons can come to Canada for a short visit include attending meetings, making contacts or participating in business negotiation meetings and negotiations for the sale of services and/ or similar activities including establishing a presence in Canada.
Businesspersons cannot enter into the labour market of Canada and remuneration
should be paid by an outside source. Such a businessperson cannot sell
or solicit the sale of services to the general public.
i. Every businessperson must meet the above-mentioned general requirements
1 to 4 for entry into Canada under GATS.
2. Intra – Company Transferees:
This provision allows foreign companies having business operations in Canada to transfer certain key persons to their Canadian operations. Apart from the general requirements 1-4 mentioned above, the transferee must meet the following requirements.
i. The person to be transferred to Canada must hold a position as an
Executive, Manager or Specialist in a qualified company in the member
Requirements for the company / employer:
i. The Canadian company and foreign company must have affiliated, branch, parent or subsidiary relationship and must have substantive business in both locations to support executive or managerial functional personals.
a. Affiliated relationship between two companies means common ownership
of the home based company and Canadian company by a third entity or group
ii. If the operation in Canada is new, it must show proof that it is
already established and can reasonably be expected to grow large enough
to a size, which will need employees of senior levels.
i. A letter from the present employer confirming the following -
This provision is different from NAFTA in one aspect that GATS includes
only service sector companies and from the general immigration provision
GATS differs by including specialized persons in the provisions of Intra-company
There are nine types of professionals who are allowed to perform professional work in Canada. Such professional work should be a part of the contract obtained by the professional’s foreign company and awarded by the Canadian company. These nine professionals are:
vii. Foreign Legal consultants
A professional who wishes to come to Canada must have necessary academic credentials and professional qualifications. Such qualification should be duly recognized in Canada by the appropriate provincial authority and the professional must be granted a licence except in case of computer professionals. However, computer professionals must have a Master’s degree with a minimum of 10 years of experience and only 10 computer professionals per contract are allowed at a time.
The time limit allotted is a maximum period of three months or 90 consecutive days within a twelve months period. No extension will be allowed and no secondary employment is allowed.
The services to be provided must be those provided under the GATS only.
In the case of group B professionals, the Canadian employer must be engaged in a substantive business in Canada. A Canadian company placing an order with a foreign employment agency to supply manpower may not be granted visa under GATS. The professionals can be paid by their Canadian employers or by the foreign company.
The professional must satisfy all the general criteria 1-4 mentioned
before for entry into Canada as a professional and also the immigration
regulations related to the issuance of a visitor visa.
1. The professional must be citizen of a member nation or be a permanent
resident of Australia, New Zealand or Switzerland;
Applications can be made at the port of entry if no visitor visa is required for such professionals. In all other cases, applications must be made at the visa office abroad for employment authorization.
This is the first effort by 130 countries to agree on the same immigration regulations. It is a historic event and could lay the foundation for the future of global immigration regulations. Also, this points to the fact that these types of regulations may bring many similarities in the immigration regulations of a number of countries.
Prepared by: Prashant Ajmera & Associates
185 Braebrook Ave., Pointe Claire, QC H9R 1V4, CANADA. TEL : 514 697 1597. FAX : 514 697 9279. Email Us.
|© 2003 - Canada Immigration Visa|