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Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) provides a facilitated immigration path towards so called ‘CETA Work Permit.’

Qualified individuals from the European Union member countries may apply for a work permit without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). As a result, the entire process is easier, faster and cheaper.   

What Is CETA?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is one of Canada’s major free trade agreements. It facilitates trade and movement of business persons between Canada and the European Union (EU) member countries and it recognizes the following groups of eligible applicants:

  • Business visitors
  • Investors
  • Independent Professionals and Contractual Service Supplier
  • Intra-Corporate Transferees

For the purpose of hiring of a European national by a Canadian company, the suitable categories are Independent Professionals/Contractual Service Suppliers and Intra-Corporate Transferees.

Eligible applicants under these categories are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Since obtaining an LMIA is a rigorous process that can be a lengthy, a possibility to benefit from an exemption is welcome by Canadian employers.  

What Are the European Union Member Countries?

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Independent Professionals and Contractual Service Suppliers

Independent Professionals

Under the term ‘Independent Professional’ it is understood a person who is self-employed as a professional and who has a contract to deliver a service to a Canadian entity. The main requirements for such person are:

  • be a citizen of the European Union member country.
  • participate in a temporary supply of service for a time period not exceeding 12 months (If exceeding 12 months, the CETA provisions will apply only for the initial 12 months.).
  • have been contracted to supply a service as per the Annex 10-E Concordance Table.
  • have a university degree or a qualification at an equivalent level.
  • must possess professional qualifications as per laws or requirements of the destination province or territory if required to practice an activity related to the delivery of the service.
  • be engaged in the delivery of a service as a self-employed person.
  • have at least 6 years of professional expertise in the sector of the professional activity.

Example: A self-employed Architect seeks entry to Canada to provide specialized architectural services to an Architectural company in Vancouver under a pre-arranged contract.

Contractual Service Suppliers

A Contractual Service Supplier is an employee of a company in the European Union who has a contract to provide a service to a Canadian consumer. At the same time, the EU company cannot be established in Canada.

  • be a citizen of the European Union member country.
  • participate in a temporary supply of service for a time period not exceeding 12 months (If exceeding 12 months, the CETA provisions will apply only for the initial 12 months.).
  • have been contracted to supply a service as per the Annex 10-E Concordance Table.
  • have a university degree or a qualification at an equivalent level.
  • must possess professional qualifications as per laws or requirements of the destination province or territory if required to practice an activity related to the delivery of the service.
  • must be an employee of the company which was granted a service contract.
  • be an employee of the EU-headquartered company for a minimum one year prior to application.
  • have at least 3 years of professional experience in the activity that is the subject of the service contract at the time of application.
  • not receiving Canadian remuneration for the provided services other than the remuneration paid by the employing EU company.

Example: A Canadian engineering company contracts a German company to provide services in the area advanced mechanical testing. An experienced mechanical engineer employed by the German company in Hamburg seeks entry to Canada to provide mechanical engineering services under the pre-arranged contract.

Who Cannot Apply for a CETA Work Permit

The following sectors are not included in the CETA agreement and therefore European nationals may not benefit from the LMIA-exempt CETA Work Permit. Applicants must follow the standard Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) route.

  • medical and dental services
  • veterinary services
  • midwifery services
  • services provided by nurses, physiotherapists and paramedical personnel
  • higher education services

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Intra-Corporate Transferees

Canadian companies may hire an employee of an EU company as long as the Canadian and EU company are a part of the same international corporation. Intra-corporate transferees must:

  • be currently employed by a company of a European Union member country or be a partner in a company of an EU member country.
  • have been employed or a partner for at least one year at the time of the CETA work permit application.
  • be temporarily transferred to a company that is either a subsidiary, branch or head company of the company in Canada.

The applicant must also fall under one of the below categories:

  • senior personnel
  • specialists
  • graduate trainees

Senior Personnel

Senior personnel definition is equivalent to the NAFTA agreement understanding of an individual in an ‘executive capacity.’ The criteria are as follows:

  • manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  • has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those, as well as other, personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization); if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organization hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
  • exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has the authority

Specialists

Specialists are individuals with ‘specialized knowledge’ as understood by the NAFTA agreement. To have specialized knowledge an intra-corporate transferee applicant would be required to demonstrate, on a balance of probabilities, a high degree of both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise.

Graduate trainees

The subcategory of graduate trainees includes the following criteria. The applicant must:

  • have a university degree
  • be temporarily transferred to a company in Canada for professional development or to obtain training in business techniques or methods.

Length of Work Permit

Senior personnel and specialist may be issued a work permit of up to less than three years depending on the length of the contract. Graduate trainees are eligible for a work permit of less than one year depending on the length of the contract.

Where to apply for a CETA Work Permit

Applicants may apply for a CETA Work Permit at a Canadian Port-of-Entry (i.e. airport, land crossing, harbour), providing that they do not need visa to enter Canada. Alternatively, applications may be submitted in paper or online at a Canadian visa office abroad. Those European nationals who are already in Canada may apply from within Canada without having to depart and apply from abroad. 

CETA Work Permit Processing Times

Canadian Port-of-Entry – application submitted upon arrival to Canada at an airport, land crossing or harbour are processed immediately by the immigration officer at the border. Note that those planning to use air travel to come to Canada must apply for eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) prior to their departure.

Paper/Online Applications – Those from visa-required countries of the European Union must apply and be approved for a CETA work permit prior to the departure for Canada. This option is voluntary for those who otherwise do not need visa to enter Canada. The processing times depend on the workload at the responsible Canadian visa office abroad. Click here to verify the current processing times.  

Extending a CETA Work Permit

A majority of CETA work permits may be extended at the immigration officer’s discretion. Independent professionals and contractual service suppliers may be extended only to a total of 12 months within a 24-month period. The subcategories of intra-corporate transferees: senior personnel and specialist may be extended for 18 months. On the other hand, graduate trainees may not be extended at all. In all the permitted cases, the applicants must submit evidence that the extension is required and justified.

Concordance Table - CETA Work Permit

Sector or Sub-Sector

Canadian National Occupational Code (NOC)

Legal advisory services in respect of public international law and foreign law (i.e., laws other than Canadian laws)

4112 Lawyers and Quebec notaries: only public international law and foreign law (non-EU law) related occupations

Accounting and bookkeeping services

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

0111 Financial managers: only occupations with an accounting designation

1111 Financial auditors and accountants: only for accounting occupations

Taxation advisory services

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

1111 Financial auditors and accountants: only advisory services and excluding auditors (covered under Auditing Services)

4162 Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts: only taxation advisory services related occupations

*Does not include legal advisory and legal representational services on tax matters, which are to be found under legal advisory services in respect of public international law and foreign law.

Legal advisory services in respect of public international law and foreign law (i.e., laws other than Canadian laws)

4112 Lawyers and Quebec notaries: only public international law and foreign law (non-EU law) related occupations

*Does not include legal advisory and legal representational services on tax matters, which are to be found under legal advisory services in respect of public international law and foreign law.

Architectural services

0212 Architecture and science managers: only architectural related occupations

2148 Other professional engineers, n.e.c.: only naval architects

2151 Architects

Urban planning and landscape architectural services

0212 Architecture and science managers: only urban planning and landscape architecture related occupations

2152 Landscape architects

2153 Urban and land use planners

Engineering services and Integrated engineering services

0013 Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services: engineering designation required

0015 Senior managers – trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c.: engineering designation required

0016 Senior managers – construction, transportation, production and utilities: engineering designation required

0211 Engineering managers

2122  Forestry professionals: engineering designation required

213 Civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers: all occupations

214 Other engineers: all occupations

2173 Software engineers and designers: only software engineers

Computer and related services

0213 Computer and information systems managers

2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers):

217 Computer and information systems professionals: all occupations

Research and development services

0211 Engineering managers: only research and development related occupations

0212 Architecture and science managers: only research and development related occupations

0213 Computer and information systems managers: only research and development related occupations

211 Physical science professionals: only research and development related occupations

2121 Biologists and related scientists: research and development related occupations

2122 Forestry professionals: only research forester

2123 Agricultural representatives, consultants and specialists: only agrologists and agricultural research related occupations

2161 Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries: only research and development related occupations

213 Civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers: research and development related occupations

214 Other engineers: only research and development related occupations

3132 Dieticians and nutritionists: only research and development related occupations

4161 Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers: only research and development related occupations

4162 Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts: only research and development related occupations

4163 Business development officers and marketing researchers and consultants: only research and development related occupations

4164 Social policy researchers, consultants and program officers: only research and development related occupations

4167 Recreation, sports and fitness policy researchers, consultants and program officers: only research and development related occupations

4169 Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.: only research and development related occupations

Advertising

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

0013 Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services: only advertising related occupations

0015 Senior managers – trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c.; only sales and advertising vice-presidents – excludes broadcasting

0124 Advertising, marketing and public relations managers

1123 Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations: only advertising related occupations

5121 Authors and writers: only advertising related occupations

5122 Editors: only advertising related occupations

Market research and opinion polling

0124 Advertising, marketing and public relations managers: only market research and opinion polling related occupations

0125 Other business services managers: only market research and opinion polling related occupations

2161 Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries: only opinion polling statisticians

4163 Business development officers and marketing researchers and consultants: only market research and opinion polling related occupations

4164 Social policy researchers, consultants and program officers: only market research and opinion polling related occupations

Management consulting services

0124 Advertising, marketing and public relations managers: only public relations services

0125 Other business services managers: only management consulting services

1122 Professional occupations in business management consulting

1123 Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations: only public relations services

Services related to management consulting

1122 Professional occupations in business management consulting (e.g. project management services other than for construction, arbitration and conciliation services)

1121 Human resources professionals: only management consulting related services (e.g. conciliation services)

Technical testing and analysis services

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

2112 Chemists: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2115 Other professional occupations in physical sciences: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2131 Civil engineers: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2132 Mechanical engineers: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2133 Electrical and electronics engineers: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2134 Chemical engineers: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2142 Metallurgical and materials engineers: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2146 Aerospace engineers: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers): only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

2173 Software engineers and designers: only technical testing and analysis services related occupations

Exclusion: mineral prospecting services, oil and gas field exploration, and geophysical (e.g. seismic) and geological surveying services are classified under class 8675 (engineering related scientific and technical consulting services)

(Engineering) Related scientific and technical consulting services

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers: only engineering related scientific and technical consulting services related occupations

2143 Mining engineers: only engineering related scientific and technical consulting services related occupations

2144 Geological engineers: only engineering related scientific and technical consulting services related occupations

Mining (advisory and consulting services only)

0811 Managers in natural resources production and fishing: only mining advisory and consulting services related occupations

2143 Mining engineers: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

2144 Geological engineers: only mining advisory and consulting services related occupations

2145 Petroleum engineers: only mining advisory and consulting services related occupations

2148 Other professional engineers, n.e.c.: only mining advisory and consulting services related occupations

2154 Land surveyors: only mining advisory and consulting services related occupations

4163 Business development officers and marketing researchers and consultants: only mining advisory and consulting services related occupations

Maintenance and repair of vessels

Contractual service suppliers – managers are excluded Independent professionals in these occupations may not enter Canada under CETA

2132 Mechanical engineers: only maintenance and repair of vessels related occupations

2133 Electrical and electronics engineers: only maintenance and repair of vessels related occupations

2142 Metallurgical and materials engineers: only maintenance and repair of vessels related occupations

2148 Other professional engineers, n.e.c.: only marine, naval, shipbuilding and ship construction related to maintenance and repair of vessels occupations

Maintenance and repair of rail transport equipment

Contractual service suppliers – Managers are excluded Independent professionals in these occupations may not enter Canada under CETA

2132 Mechanical engineers: only maintenance and repair of rail transport equipment related occupations

2133 Electrical and electronics engineers: only maintenance and repair of rail transport equipment related occupations

Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles and road transport equipment

Contractual service suppliers – Managers are excluded Independent professionals in these occupations may not enter Canada under CETA

2132 Mechanical engineers: only maintenance and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles and road transport equipment related occupations

Maintenance and repair of aircraft and parts thereof

Contractual service suppliers – Managers are excluded Independent professionals in these occupations may not enter Canada under CETA

2132 Mechanical engineers: only maintenance and repair of aircraft and parts thereof related occupations

2133 Electrical and electronics engineers: only maintenance and repair of aircraft and parts thereof related occupations

2142 Metallurgical and materials engineers: only maintenance and repair of aircraft and parts thereof related occupations

2146 Aerospace engineers: only maintenance and repair of aircraft and parts thereof related occupations

Maintenance and repair of metal products, of (non-office) machinery, of (non-transport and non-office) equipment and of personal and household goods

Note: Maintenance and repair services of office machinery and equipment including computers (CPC 845) are to be found under computer services

Contractual service suppliers – Managers in utilities are excluded Independent professionals in these occupations may not enter Canada under CETA

0621 Retail and wholesale trade managers: only maintenance and repair of metal products, machinery, equipment and personal and household goods related occupations – except all office or transport related occupations

0714 Facility operation and maintenance managers: only maintenance and repair of metal products, machinery, equipment and personal and household goods related occupations – except all office or transport related occupations

2132 Mechanical engineers

2133 Electrical and electronics engineers

2148 Other professional engineers, n.e.c.: only agricultural, agroprocessing, biomedical, bio-resource, dairy plant, food and textile, for maintenance and repair related occupations

Translation and interpretation Services (excluding official or certified activities)

5125 Translators, terminologists and interpreters: except official or certified activities

Telecommunication services (advisory and consulting services only)

Contractual service suppliers /independent professionals – managers are excluded from CETA commitments

2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers): only telecommunications advisory and consulting services related occupations

2173 Software engineers and designers: only telecommunications advisory and consulting services related occupations

Postal and courier services (advisory and consulting services only)

Contractual service suppliers /independent professionals – managers are excluded from CETA commitments

Not applicable

Construction and related engineering services

Contractual service suppliers – managers are excluded from CETA commitments Independent professionals in these occupations may not enter Canada under CETA

2131 Civil engineers: only construction and related engineering services related occupations

2231 Civil engineering technologists and technicians

Site investigation work

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers: only related to site investigation work for construction occupations

2115 Other professional occupations in physical sciences: only soil scientists and materials scientists

2131 Civil engineers: only related to site investigation work for construction occupations

2153 Urban and land use planners: only related to site investigation work for construction occupations

Agriculture, hunting and forestry (advisory and consulting services only)

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

0811 Managers in natural resources production and fishing: only agriculture and forestry advisory and consulting services related occupations

0821 Managers in agriculture: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

2121 Biologists and related scientists: only agriculture, hunting and forestry advisory and consulting services related occupations

2122 Forestry professionals: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

2123 Agricultural representatives, consultants and specialists: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

2148 Other professional engineers, n.e.c.: only agricultural advisory and consulting services related occupations

4161 Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers: only agriculture, hunting and forestry advisory and consulting services related occupations

Environmental services

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

0211 Engineering managers: only sewage, trash, garbage related occupations

0212 Architecture and science managers: only environmental services related occupations; excludes agriculture, forestry and mining related occupations

0714 Facility operation and maintenance managers: only sewage, trash, garbage, sanitation, air pollution, landscape protection and noise control related occupations

0912 Utilities managers: only environmental services related occupations, excluding power generation and distribution, petroleum and nuclear related occupations

2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers: only environmental geologists, geochemists and hydrologists

2112 Chemists: only environmental services related occupations; excludes agriculture, forestry and mining related occupations

2121 Biologists and related scientists: only landscape (excluding forests), their respective fauna, flora and habitats; environment and climate relationships; natural disaster assessment and abatement services; landscape protection services; not elsewhere classified related occupations

2131 Civil engineers: only environmental services, municipal, public works, sanitation and water management related occupations

2134 Chemical engineers: only environmental services and waste related occupations

2153 Urban and land use planners: only land use and environmental services related occupations

4161 Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers: only environmental services related occupations

Insurance and insurance related services (advisory and consulting services only)

0121 Insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers: only advisory and consulting services related occupations; except insurance and insurance related services

0111 Financial managers: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

0122 Banking, credit and other investment managers: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

0125 Other business services managers: only financial services for advisory and consulting services related occupations; except accounting and auditing

1113 Securities agents, investment dealers and brokers: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

1112 Financial and investment analysts: only advisory and consulting services related occupations

1114 Other financial officers: only financial services for advisory and consulting services related occupations

Transport
(advisory and consulting services only)

Contractual service suppliers /independent professionals – managers are excluded from CETA commitments

2131 Civil engineers: only transportation advisory and consulting services related occupations

2153 Urban and land use planners: only transportation advisory and consulting services related occupations

Travel agencies and tour operator services (including tour managers)

Independent professionals in these occupations may not enter Canada under CETA

Includes CSS category tour managers whose function is to accompany a tour group of a minimum of 10 persons without acting as guides in specific locations

0015 Senior managers – trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c.: only travel agencies and tour operator services related occupations

0621 Retail and wholesale trade managers: only travel agencies and tour operator services related occupations

0651 Managers in customer and personal services, n.e.c.: only travel agencies and tour operator services related occupations

Tourist guide services

(Independent Professionals are not eligible under this occupation)

0621 Retail and wholesale trade managers: only tourist guide services related occupations

0651 Managers in customer and personal services, n.e.c.: only tourist guide services related occupations

Manufacturing (advisory and consulting services only)

Contractual service suppliers /independent professionals – managers are excluded from CETA commitments

2141 Industrial and manufacturing engineers: only manufacturing advisory and consulting services related occupations

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