International Mobility Program: General Agreement on Trade in Services

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the temporary entry of business persons under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) can be facilitated without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. In the area of temporary entry of individuals, Canada requested and offered access for three categories of business persons: business visitors, intra-company transferees and professionals.

Both business visitors and intra-company transferees entering under GATS qualify under Canada’s generally applicable immigration rules: R186(a) and R205(a) C12. However, there are unique rules for the entry of professionals under GATS. These professionals may be granted work permits pursuant to R204, T33 if they meet the criteria outlined below.

A GATS Professional is a person who seeks to engage, as part of a services contract obtained by a company in another Member nation, in an activity at a professional level in a profession set out below, provided that the person possesses the necessary academic credentials and professional qualifications, which have been duly recognized, where appropriate, by the professional association in Canada. The Professionals category is designed to facilitate the short-term entry of a limited list of professionals employed by service providers of Member nations, in those service sectors to which Canada has made commitments.

Conditions of admission – Professionals

Occupations covered

Group 1 includes six occupations: Engineers, Agrologists, Architects, Forestry professionals, Geomatics professionals and Land surveyors.

Group 2 includes three occupations: Foreign legal consultants, Urban planners and Senior computer specialists. Professionals in this group are subject to additional requirements pertaining to the prospective enterprise in Canada and the foreign service provider. As well, limits exist for the number of persons allowed entry under specific projects.

Gats professional occupations, together with minimum educational requirements, alternative credentials and other licensing requirements

Gats professional occupations, together with minimum educational requirements, alternative credentials and other licensing requirements

Group 1 – Occupation
Engineer

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials:
Baccalaureate degreeFootnote *

Other requirements:
Provincial licenceFootnote **

Agrologists

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials:
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.

Architects

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials:
Baccalaureate degree in architecture

Other requirements:
Provincial licence and certificate required to practice

Forestry Professionals

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials: 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 ProfessionalsFootnote ***

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials: Baccalaureate degree in surveying, geography or environmental sciences plus three years related experience.

Land Surveyors

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials: Baccalaureate degree

Other requirements:
Provincial licence

Group 2 – Occupation
Foreign Legal Consultants

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials: Baccalaureate degree in law

Other requirements:
Provincial licence

Foreign Legal Consultants

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials: Baccalaureate degree in law

Other requirements:
Provincial licence

Urban Planners

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials: Baccalaureate degree in urban planning

Other requirements:
Provincial licence

Senior Computer Specialists

Minimum educational requirement alternative credentials: Graduate degreeFootnote **** in computer sciences or related discipline and ten years of experience in computer sciences.

Validity period

The time limit imposed is a maximum three months or 90 consecutive days within a twelve‑month period.

Employment

The applicant must be seeking entry pursuant to a signed contract between the foreign service provider and a Canadian service consumer, and must work in one of the service sectors listed above.

Credentials

Applicants must have their academic credentials and professional qualifications recognized by the professional association in Canada before entry can be granted and must have been granted a licence (where applicable). See paragraph on credential and licensing requirements below.

Secondary employment

Secondary employment is not permitted (prohibition on working for an employer who is not named on the authorization) and extension of the employment authorization as a GATS professional beyond the 90 days is not permitted.

Criteria

The applicant must meet the following criteria:

  1. Possess citizenship of a Member nation, or the right of permanent residence in Australia or New Zealand. Note that member nations (numbering 148 as of 2005) are listed on the World Trade Organization website.
  2. Deliver a service pursuant to a signed contract between a Canadian service consumer and a service provider of a WTO member nation. 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;
  3. Possess professional qualifications in an occupation identified in the chart above.
  4. NOT provide service in any of the following service sectors: education, health related services or recreational, culture and sports services.
  5. Possess qualifications that have been recognized, where appropriate, by the professional association in Canada.
  6. Comply with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry, including TRV requirements.
  7. In the case of foreign legal consultants, urban planners and senior computer specialists, the employer in Canada must be engaged in substantive business.
  8. In the case of senior computer specialists, a limit of ten entrants per project has been imposed.
  9. Entry is for a period of 90 days.

Interpretive notes

Personnel agencies:

Where the contract is between a Canadian company and a foreign personnel placement or personnel supply agency to supply the Professional, entry may not be granted pursuant to the GATS, even where the occupation is listed in the professional category.

Remuneration

The Professional may or may not be remunerated in Canada.

Doing business

The Professional’s foreign-based employer must have been established for a reasonable period of time and be actively “doing business”. (See section 4.3 of Appendix G, intra-company transferees, for a definition.)

Legal Consultants, Urban Planners & Senior Computer Specialists

In the case of Legal Consultants, Urban Planners and Senior Computer Specialists, our GATS commitments further specify that the Canadian company party to the contract must not be a personnel placement or personnel supply agency.

The fact that the employer in Canada must be engaged in substantive business is interpreted to mean that the enterprise is not a shell or established merely for the purpose of facilitating the entry of foreign workers. Officers will have to rely on information provided by the applicant and supported by documents from the employer in Canada.

The requirement that the foreign service provider not have a commercial presence in Canada can only be established by relying on information provided by the applicant. Officers should confirm that the professional is not seeking entry to provide services to their company or employer, which has established itself in Canada simply to facilitate the entry of its own employees.

As there is no central body responsible for regulating computer specialties, the entry of Senior Computer Specialist is restricted to individuals with a Masters Degree in a related discipline, as well as documented ten years experience in that field. The criteria was introduced as a control measure to ensure that only highly qualified experienced computer specialists are permitted entry under the GATS professional category.

The limit of ten entrants per project imposed on Senior Computer Specialists can be verified by relying on information provided by the foreign service provider or the service consumer in Canada.

Documentation required

  • Citizenship of a Member nation (listed at the World Trade Organization website) or permanent resident status in Australia and New Zealand;
  • Copy of a signed contract between the service provider and the Canadian service consumer; the contract may have been signed by a foreign service provider located in any Member nation or by a Canadian-based company established by that foreign service provider to sell its services in Canada;
  • Documentation which provides the following information:
    • the profession for which entry is sought and province of destination;
    • details of the position (job description, duration of employment, arrangements as to payment); and
    • the educational qualification or alternative credentials required to discharge job duties in Canada;
  • Evidence that the applicant has professional qualifications as detailed in the chart (copies of degrees, diplomas, professional licences, accreditation or registration, etc.);
  • Documentation from the appropriate professional association in Canada, indicating that the applicant’s academic credentials and professional qualifications have been duly recognized; and
  • Where required, a temporary or permanent licence issued by the appropriate provincial/territorial government.

Credentials and licensing

In processing applications from Professionals, it is essential that officers refer to the chart in order to understand what credentials are required for each occupation and which provinces issue licences for the practice of those occupations.

If a licence to practice in Canada is required, officers cannot issue a work permit unless the applicant has obtained, prior to arrival in Canada, a temporary or permanent licence from the appropriate province.

If the applicant presents a provincial licence, it is not necessary for officers to examine the documentation from a professional association or the applicant’s professional qualifications as the province has already done that, except in the case of Foreign Legal Consultants, Urban Planners and Senior Computer Specialists where the foreign-based employer cannot be established in Canada.

If no licence is required to practice in Canada, officers cannot issue a work permit unless the applicant can produce documentation from an appropriate professional association in Canada, indicating that their academic credentials and professional qualifications have been recognized.

If the applicant presents such documentation from the appropriate professional association in Canada, it is not necessary for officers to examine the applicant’s educational credentials as the professional association has already done that.

Immigration documentation

The work permit should be coded using Exemption Code T33.

Applications for work permits may be made at a visa office or at a POE (for applicants who do not require a temporary resident visa).

There is a firm time limit on the entry of GATS Professionals. They should be granted status for the period required to complete the work, up to a maximum of three months. Extensions must not be granted beyond three months.

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