A business visitor, unlike a temporary worker, does not require a work permit for their activities in Canada. The temptation may therefore exist for a foreign national, whether to avoid the process or by ignoring the rules of immigration, to apply for admission to Canada as a business visitor rather than as a worker.

This is to be avoided in order to avoid the risk of illegally working in Canada and the consequences thereof.

How to recognize a business visitor status?

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website contains a definition for a business visitor.

The following are the main points:

  • The foreign worker must not intend to enter the Canadian labour market (ie, they must not have income from employment in Canada).
  • The activity they take part in must be international in scope.
  • In the majority of cases, the foreign national remains employed by a foreign employer due to their interests remaining abroad:
  • Their main source of income;
  • Their main place of business;
  • The place where the employer makes a profit.

It goes without saying that an employer must not allow a foreign national who has entered Canada as a business visitor to do any testing or training until the worker has a work permit in hand, even if the activities are done for free or voluntarily.

One must be keep in mind that the concept of work is broadly understood by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as any « activity that results in the payment of a salary or commission or is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market « . The fact that the work is not remunerated is therefore not a guarantee that a work permit is not required.

You can learn more about what it means to be a business visitor in Canada by clicking here

Practical Recommendations

An entry into Canada as a business visitor does not, by definition, require a work permit. The fact remains that a foreign national is advised to prepare for their entry into Canada adequately and to bring with them the necessary documentation to explain the nature of the activities they will participate in while in Canada and the reason for their visit.

This will ensure that the foreign national can apply for admission at the border or, if in doubt, through a preliminary opinion with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

If this is the case, and depending on their situation, the foreign national may be advised to bring with them:

  • Their up-to-date resume;
  • Copy of any professional membership(s), if applicable;
  • Copies of contracts between their foreign company and the Canadian company hosting them;
  • A letter of invitation from the Canadian company

In case of any doubt about the nature of your stay, consult the Canadian authorities or a professional to avoid getting into any unintentional legal trouble.