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GATS: General Agreement on Trade in Services

Work Permits Pursuant to the General Agreement on Trade in Services

The General Agreement on Trade in Services or (GATS) is often described as being similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is an agreement under the World Trade Organization that came into force in January 1995. Contact us today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly.

The main purpose of GATS immigration regulations is to facilitate the entry of business personnel, technical personnel and executives of a company located in one of the member nations to a company located in another member nation (e.g. Canada) with which it is already doing or wishes to do business with, or plans to open a branch office or subsidiary in other member nations.

However, there are some larger differences. For example, under GATS, the Canadian government has created only three categories of businesspersons allowed an exemption under the agreement. These are:

  • Business visitors
  • Intra-company transferees
  • Professionals

The business visitor category does not require a work permit because the individual is not entering the Canadian labour market. Naturally, that person has to meet all of the specific qualifications, showing that they will not enter the Canadian labour market, that their employer is outside of Canada and that they are being paid by the foreign employer.

The intra-company transferee category is a work permit category – same as for professionals category, but the conditions for qualification for professionals are more complex. The intra-company transferee must prove the relationship between the foreign and Canadian company and show why the foreign worker is more qualified than existing or potential Canadian workers for the position in Canada. GATS professionals must meet minimum educational requirements as well as certain licensing requirements. The professionals must also have a contract in place before arriving that shows they will be employed in their professional capacity and will be remunerated in this capacity with the fair market wage in the region of the employment.

Fundamentally, GATS offers certain foreign nationals and their employer's relief from the need for an LMIA, but not always the need for work permits. Because you will have to have all of your documentation in order before you arrive, it is best to begin the application processes ahead of time, and discuss any questions you might have with legal experts on such matters.

Contact us today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly.

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