Canada and the European Union (“EU”) began the provisional application of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”) on September 21, 2017. CETA includes temporary entry provisions that will make it easier for skilled EU professionals and business people to temporarily enter Canada. Of particular note are the one-year work permits that are now available to a wide range of EU professionals.

CETA covers two types of professionals: (a) contractual service suppliers, and (b) independent professionals. The first type is applicable an EU-based entity that enters into a service contract with a Canadian entity and that wishes to send an EU citizen to Canada as its representative. The second type applies to EU citizens who wish to enter Canada in order to provide professional services directly to a Canadian client.

What does this mean for business? EU consultant companies may now have a clearer route by which to send professionals to Canada to carry out contracts for Canadian clients. EU individuals seeking to provide professional services to a Canadian employer may do so by styling themselves as “independent professionals” under CETA. Multinational companies with offices in Canada may also have an enhanced ability to transfer employees to their Canadian operations in circumstances where “intra-company transferee” work permits are not available. However, much will depend upon the specific type of professional services that are sought to be provided in Canada. Canada’s commitments under CETA are limited to occupations at the “senior manager” (known as “NOC 0”) and “occupations usually requiring university education” (NOC “A”) levels, except for engineering and scientific technologists (“NOC B”). In addition, different criteria will apply as between contractual service suppliers and independent professionals on a per-sector basis.