General Agreement on Trade in Services provides an accelerated avenue for qualified individuals to a Canadian work permit without having to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Business persons in selected occupations may work in Canada for up to 90 days.

What Is GATS?

Canada is a signatory of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which is administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO). GATS facilitates trade and movement of certain business persons among its member countries worldwide. As of July 20th, 2016, there were 164 member countries. The following business persons are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment:

  • Business visitors
  • Intra-company transferees
  • Professionals

Canadian companies may utilize primarily the subcategories of professionals and intra-company transferees to seek services of highly skilled individuals from abroad. While intra-company transferees are ruled by the applicable immigration regulation R205(a), professionals under GATS must meet specific criteria.


A professional under GATS is a person from another member country who seek to engage in a delivery of a service contract to a Canadian company. The applicant must:

  • have citizenship of a member nation, or the right of permanent residence in Australia or New Zealand.
  • Deliver a service as per a signed contract between a Canadian service consumer and a service provider of a WTO member country. In the case of foreign legal consultants, urban planners and senior computer specialists, the foreign service provider must not have a commercial presence in Canada.
  • have professional qualifications in an occupation identified in the chart below.
  • NOT provide service in any of the following service sectors: education, health related services or recreational, culture and sports services.
  • have qualifications that have been recognized, where applicable, by the professional association in Canada.
  • Comply with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry, including Temporary Resident Visa requirements.
  • In the case of foreign legal consultants, urban planners and senior computer specialists, the employer in Canada must be engaged in substantive business.
  • In the case of senior computer specialists, a limit of ten entrants per project has been imposed.
  • Entry is for a period of 90 days.

Occupation Covered Under General Agreement on Trade in Services

Qualified professionals must intend to perform an activity in one of the occupations below as well as have the minimum educational/experience credentials as listed.

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Permitted Occupations


Educational & Experience Requirements


Baccalaureate degree

Other requirements:
Provincial licence


Baccalaureate degree in agriculture or related science plus four years of related experience

Other requirements:
Licensing required in New Brunswick, Alberta & Quebec. Temporary licensing required in British Columbia.


Baccalaureate degree in architecture

Other requirements:
Provincial licence and certificate required to practice

Forestry Professionals

Baccalaureate degree in forestry management or forestry engineering, or a provincial licence

Other requirements:
Licensing as a forester or forestry engineer is required in Alberta, British Columbia & Quebec.

Geomatics Professionals

Baccalaureate degree in surveying, geography or environmental sciences plus three years related experience.

Land Surveyors


Baccalaureate degree

Other requirements:
Provincial licence

Foreign Legal Consultants


Baccalaureate degree in law

Other requirements:
Provincial licence

Urban Planners

Baccalaureate degree in urban planning

Other requirements:
Provincial licence

Senior Computer Specialists

Graduate degree in computer sciences or related discipline and ten years of experience in computer sciences.