A Diverse Workforce in a Growing Economy


Individuals coming to Canada to engage in international business activities generally don’t need a work permit as they are not entering the labour market. These people would be attending meetings or conferences, providing after-sales service, are demonstrating product usage, observe site visits, or are engaging in training Canadian employees. If you can prove you are coming to engage in work like this, you don’t need to apply for a work permit, but may still need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization.

These individuals must demonstrate that they won’t be staying in Canada more than six months, won’t be entering the Canadian labour market, work primarily outside of Canada and meet Canada’s basic entry requirements. They must also prove that their main source of income and main place of business are outside Canada.

It’s important to note that business visitors and business people are not considered the same by the government of Canada. Business people do work in Canada under a free trade agreement and are not always considered a business visitor.

Some cases where a work permit isn’t necessary:

  • Business visitors – in order to be eligible for working in Canada without a permit, these individuals must not be entering the Canadian labour market, must be working in an international capacity, and the primary source of the workers wages come from outside of Canada where the principal place of employment is outside of Canada and the employer’s profits are accrued outside of Canada. This applies to those in after-sales service such as installing, setting up and /or testing equipment, board members coming to Canada for meetings, employees of foreign companies contracting Canadian companies (a foreign employee providing a service in Canada, but still employed and paid by a foreign company).
  • Foreign government officers – where foreign workers come to Canada to work within a provincial/territorial or federal government. This may require a contract from Canada’s Public Service Commission if the foreign worker is at an executive level and those in Canada for more than three months will need a formal letter of agreement.
  • On-campus employment – students are often eligible to work on-campus at their education institution if they have a valid study permit and are a full-time student at the appropriate type of school. Work authorization is needed for the duration of the study permit and this may include work on campuses of the institution that aren’t the student’s “base” campus so long as they are within the same municipality.
  • Performing artists – while some types of performing artists do require a work permit and LMIA, others do not. Those who don’t include bands performing at privately owned facilities, bands and theatrical individuals as well as their crew, working outside of bars, restaurants, pubs and other privately-owned facilities, street performers, circus entertainers, guest artists with limited engagements, people performing at private events (birthday, wedding, etc.) WWE wrestlers, air show performers and artists at showcases or workshops. Film producers and film and recording studio users fall under the business visitors category and persons doing guest spots on Canadian media are guest speakers.
  • Others who may be eligible to perform work in Canada without a work permit include:
    • Foreign representatives and their families
    • Military personnel
    • American cross-border maritime law enforcement officers
    • In-flight security officers
    • Athletes and team members
    • News reporter and media crews
    • Public speakers
    • Convention organizers
    • Clergy
    • Judges, referees and similar officials
    • Examiners and evaluators
    • Expert witnesses and investigators
    • Health care students
    • Civil aviation inspectors
    • Aviation or accident investigators
    • Crew
    • Emergency service providers
    • Those with implied status

If you believe you fall under any of these categories, we can help determine if you are able to work in Canada without a work permit. Contact us to help you with the process.