Facilitating the legal admission of professionals, business persons, and skilled workers

Business Visitors and Work without a Permit


In certain cases, foreign workers may enter Canada to engage in work in the absence of a work permit and without the need for HRSDC Confirmation. Such cases are generally restricted to instances in which the individual will not enter into the Canadian labour market directly, the primary source of remuneration for business activities is outside Canada, and the principal place of business remains predominantly outside Canada.

International treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) include separate provisions on eligibility as business visitors. Due to perceived similarities between these provisions, business visitors under these treaties are generally considered as under the same provisions described above. In these cases, it is important to note that candidates will generally not receive work permits, but will instead be granted admission as business visitors.

Employment Without a Work Permit

The following are additional examples of employment in which a foreign national may engage within Canada without the requirement of a work permit:

  • as a foreign representative, if they are properly accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and are in Canada to carry out official duties as a diplomatic agent, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any international organization of which Canada is a member;

  • if the foreign national is a family member of a foreign representative in Canada who is accredited with diplomatic status by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and that Department has stated in writing that it does not object to the foreign national working in Canada;

  • as a member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, including a person who has been designated as a civilian component of those armed forces;

  • as an officer of a foreign government sent, under an exchange agreement between Canada and one or more countries, to take up duties with a federal or provincial agency;

  • if they are a full-time student, on the campus of the university or college at which they are a full-time student, for the period for which they hold a study permit to study at that university or college;

  • as a performing artist appearing alone or in a group in an artistic performance

    • other than a performance that is primarily for a film production or a television or radio broadcast

    • or as a member of the staff of such a performing artist or group who is integral to the artistic performance, if
      (i) they are part of a foreign production or group, or are a guest artist in a Canadian production or group, performing a time-limited engagement, and
      (ii) they are not in an employment relationship with the organization or business in Canada that is contracting for their services, nor performing in a bar, restaurant or similar establishment;

  • as a participant in sports activities or events, in Canada, either as an individual participant or as a member of a foreign-based team or Canadian amateur team;

  • as an employee of a foreign news company for the purpose of reporting on events in Canada;
    as a guest speaker for the sole purpose of making a speech or delivering a paper at a dinner, graduation, convention or similar function, or as a commercial speaker or seminar leader delivering a seminar that lasts no longer than five days;

  • as a member of the executive of a committee that is organizing a convention or meeting in Canada or as a member of the administrative support staff of such a committee;

  • as a person who is responsible for assisting a congregation or group in the achievement of its spiritual goals and whose main duties are to preach doctrine, perform functions related to gatherings of the congregation or group or provide spiritual counselling;

  • as a judge, referee or similar official at an international amateur sports competition, an international cultural or artistic event or competition or an animal or agricultural competition;

  • as an examiner or evaluator of research proposals, academic projects or programs or university theses;

  • as an expert who conducts surveys or analyses that are to be used as evidence before a federal or provincial regulatory body, a tribunal or a court of law or as an expert witness before such a body, tribunal or court of law;

  • as a student in a health field, including as a medical elective or clinical clerk at a medical teaching institution in Canada, for the primary purpose of acquiring training, if they have written approval from the body that regulates that field;

  • as a civil aviation inspector of a national aeronautical authority conducting inspections of the flight operation procedures or cabin safety of a commercial air carrier operating international flights;

  • as an accredited representative or adviser participating in an aviation accident or incident investigation conducted under the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act;

  • as a member of a crew who is employed by a foreign company aboard a means of transportation that
    (i) is foreign-owned and not registered in Canada, and
    (ii) is engaged primarily in international transportation;

  • as a provider of emergency services, including medical services, for the protection or preservation of life or property; or

  • until a decision is made on an application made by them under subsection 201(1), if they have remained in Canada after the expiry of their work permit and they have continued to comply with the conditions set out on the expired work permit, other than the expiry date.



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