Every year, thousands of international business people come to Canada to do business with Canadian companies. There are requirements you must meet to be allowed into Canada. This information will help you avoid problems that can affect your business plans.
Determine your eligibility
You are a business visitor if you plan to visit Canada temporarily to:
If you are a business visitor and you need a visa to visit Canada, you must apply for a temporary resident visa, just like any other visitor to Canada. There is no separate application for business visitors.
As a business visitor, you must show that:
Cross-border business can include:
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, a U.S. or Mexican national may also take part in other activities, such as research, marketing and general services. For more information, see the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website.
If you plan to stay longer than six months or plan to work in Canada, you may be considered a temporary worker and have to apply for a work permit.
If you need a temporary resident visa, you must send certain documents when you apply:
You may also need identification cards or proof you have a job. For more information, check the website of the Canadian visa office that serves the country or region where you live.
Most applications for visitor visas are processed within a few weeks or less. Processing times vary depending on the visa office.
If you need a visa to travel to Canada, you must also have a valid travel document, such as a valid passport, titre de voyage or Certificate of Identity. For specific information on passport requirements for your country, please see the list of Canadian embassies.
Change of address
If you move or change your address, telephone number or any other contact information after you send your application to the Canadian visa office in your country or region, you must notify the visa office.
After you send your application, it will be reviewed at the visa office to make sure it has been completed correctly and that it contains all the required documents. A visa officer will decide if an interview with you is necessary. If an interview is required, you will be notified of the time and place.
If your application is refused, your passport and other documents will be returned to you. You will also receive an explanation why your application was refused. If you sent fraudulent documents, they will not be returned.
If your application is approved, your passport and documents will be returned to you with your visa.
For more information about Canada and places to visit during your stay, see the Government of Canada website.
Note: a valid temporary resident visa and valid travel document do not guarantee you automatic entry into Canada. You may not be allowed to enter Canada if you arrive in Canada and a Canadian official finds that you are no longer admissible because:
You might need a medical exam to be allowed to enter Canada. If you do, a Canadian immigration officer will tell you and will send you instructions about what to do. A medical exam can add several weeks to the processing time of your application.
When you arrive in Canada, you will be greeted by an officer of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA is responsible for protecting the borders and points of entry to Canada. The CBSA officer will ask you the purpose of your visit and confirm that you meet the requirements for admission to Canada. This is standard for anyone entering Canada, whether you have a temporary resident visa or not.
You should have all relevant documents on hand to present to the officer when you arrive. These documents include, but are not limited to:
You will not be allowed into Canada if you give false or incomplete information, or if you do not satisfy the officer that you are eligible for entry into Canada. You will also have to satisfy the officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay in Canada.
You can avoid problems or delays when you bring your foreign business guests to Canada by following these guidelines:
Exercise due diligence
Before you enter any formal partnership, you should investigate your potential partner’s business track record, assets and liabilities, reputation and current legal status. This can protect your company’s interests and reputation. It will also help you decide if aspects of your potential partner’s background will pose problems when you bring the proposed partner to Canada for business.
Please see the Trade Commissioner Service for advice.
Know Canada’s entry requirements for business visitors
If your visitor is from a country that requires a visa to visit Canada, he or she must apply for a temporary resident visa just like any other temporary visitor to Canada. There is no separate application for business visitors. The temporary resident visa covers all visitors, including those in Canada on business. See Do you need a visa? to find out if your visitor must apply for one.
Present or past conditions in foreign countries, like war or political unrest, could affect whether your potential partner is admissible to Canada, and how long it takes to process a visa. You can see potential wait periods for visas under Application processing times.
Have partners apply early and submit completed applications
Most properly completed applications are processed within a week of when the visa office receives them, with some exceptions for special circumstances. Delays and refusals will result if applications are not complete or if the required documents are missing or suspect. Find more details on processing times at visa offices outside Canada.
If your business partners or contacts are likely to visit Canada a number of times, they may want a multiple entry visa. This means they will not have to request a visa every time they want to enter Canada. Multiple entry visas are granted whenever possible; however there may be circumstances where only a single entry visa is authorized. Some visitors may not be eligible for multi-entry visas.
Your company’s responsibilities
Give your potential partner a well-documented and factual letter of invitation. See Letter of invitation for guidelines on writing this letter.
Provide your business partner with your 24-hour contact details.
What to do if a visa is refused
If your potential partner’s business visa is refused, please see How do I get help if my application is refused?.
If there is new or additional information that should be considered, your partner can re-apply and submit this new information. There is no minimum wait to apply again.
What to do if your visitor is refused entry to Canada at the border or port of entry
Depending on what visitors say at the border and the documents they have with them, an officer may decide that more information is needed. If this happens, the visitor may be sent to “Secondary Processing” where he or she will be seen by an immigration officer.
Even if a visa is issued abroad, an officer at the port of entry could find that the visitor needs a work permit. This could happen if the officer finds the visitor’s circumstances have changed since the visa was issued, or new information is found during the interview.
If there is a business relationship in place, your letter of invitation can explain the reasons for a visit and help prevent this from happening. Also, when the Canadian business provides 24-hour contact numbers, they can answer questions about the visit.
If, for example, the visitor is coming to service a piece of equipment as set out in a contract, he or she should bring a copy of the contract or bill that states that this work is covered.