Canada offers expanded temporary entry for foreign business people

Member countries at the World Trade Organization’s current round of General Agreement of Trade in Services negotiations will vote on Canada’s proposed revisions soon
By Sergio Karas
||Last Updated: 10/03/2005

More foreign workers will be able to work in Canada on a temporary basis if Canada’s offer is approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Canada recently proposed expanding several categories of temporary workers who will be allowed to enter the country at the WTO’s negotiations on the General Agreement of Trade in Services (GATS).

Canada’s revised offer outlines further commitments the country is willing to make in exchange for improved access to foreign markets.

The revised offer was prepared in partnership with Canadian provinces and territories and through consultation with stakeholders.

Canada's revised offer includes several significant improvements with respect to the temporary entry of services suppliers, which is a priority area for many WTO members, especially developing countries.

The revision includes:

  • A new category of intra-corporate transferees, to facilitate the temporary entry of individuals for career development purposes.

  • Broadened definition of senior computer specialists to include the wider category of information communications technology professionals, and has lowered the minimum education and experience requirements for these professionals to allow individuals with a wider range of education and experience levels to supply their services to Canada.

  • Removal of limits on the number of senior computer specialists permitted to enter Canada in order to work on a given project.

  • Addition of management consultants to the list of professions covered by temporary entry.

The offer also includes improved market access for foreign professionals through the removal or, in some cases, the modification, of several pre-existing requirements.

Improvements pertain to three sub-sectors listed under the heading of professional services, namely legal services; accounting, auditing and bookkeeping services; and engineering services.

Changes include the removal of several provincial residency requirements, the elimination of several requirements for commercial presence, and, in one case, the substitution of a more liberal requirement for residency.

The offer is conditional on the overall level of liberalization that is achieved at the end of the negotiations. This means that Canada retains the right to add, remove or modify any element of its offer until a final agreement is reached in the overall WTO negotiations.

The United States is one WTO member that is expected to reject the offer as it seldom expands categories of foreign workers, with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) being an exception.

Sergio Karas is a Toronto-based lawyer and a certified specialist in Canadian citizenship and immigration law. He may be contacted at (416) 506-1800, or

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