International Mobility Program: Canada–Panama Free Trade Agreement

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The Canada–Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed in 2010 and came into force on April 1, 2013. Chapter 13 of the Canada–Panama FTA, Temporary entry for business persons, is similar to the temporary entry provisions set out in Chapter 16 of the North American FTA. However, only the provisions for business visitors and professionals are currently in force (see sections A and D).

In addition, like the Canada–Peru FTA temporary entry provisions, the Canada–Panama FTA temporary entry provisions extend to permanent residents as well as to citizens. Therefore, proof of permanent resident status is also an accepted document for presentation in support of an application.

Note: Although the Canada–Panama FTA also contains provisions for traders and investors, intra-company transferees and spouses, the provisions are not currently in force. Panamanian citizens who are seeking to enter under these categories have to

  • seek a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
  • apply under the General Agreement on Trade in Services
  • seek access under Canada’s domestic regime

On this page

Business visitor – Work permit exempt under paragraph 186(a) and section 187 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Officers should process applicants in this category per the requirements for business visitors, under paragraph 186(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Applicants must possess the following:

  • citizenship of Panama or permanent resident status
  • documentation describing the purpose of entry and demonstrating that the applicant will be engaged in a business activity set out in Annex 13.04-A
  • evidence establishing the international scope of the proposed business activity and demonstrating that the applicant is not seeking to enter the local labour market by indicating
    • primary source of remuneration remains outside Canada
    • principal place of business remains outside Canada

Professionals – Persons engaged in specialty occupations (work permit required, LMIA exemption code T23)

Applicants must possess the following:

  • citizenship of Panama or permanent resident status
  • documentation demonstrating that the applicant is seeking to enter Canada to work in a listed occupation (per Annex 13.04-D), as part of a pre-arranged services contract, granted by an entity or a services consumer in Canada
  • post-secondary degree in a specialty requiring 4 or more years of study as a minimum for entry into the occupation
  • evidence that the applicant has the necessary professional qualifications required to practise an activity pursuant to the laws or requirements in the province or territory where the service is supplied
  • evidence that the applicant should meet all the requirements (minimum 4-year degree, professional qualifications and minimum number of years of work experience in the field) described on their occupation’s National Occupational Code (NOC) code page

Length of stay

Applicants are permitted entry, as professionals, under the Canada–Panama FTA, for the shortest of the following:

  • up to 3 years
  • duration of their contract
  • expiry of their travel document

Extensions can also be issued in increments of up to 3 years, with no limit on the number of extensions, providing the individual continues to comply with the requirements for professionals.

Officers must be satisfied that the employment is still temporary and that the applicant is not using the Canada–Panama FTA as a means of circumventing normal immigration procedures.

Annex 13.04-D: Persons Engaged in Specialty Occupations

Annex 13.04-D of the Canada–Panama FTA sets out which professionals can enter Canada to provide their services. The occupations covered under the Canada–Panama FTA are listed below.

Annex 13.04-D represents the complete list, negotiated by the parties, and cannot be interpreted. Generally, if an occupation does not appear on the list, it is not a specialty occupation, as defined by Annex 13.04-D. However, officers should allow for alternative job titles if they are listed in the corresponding NOC code or if the job duties are the same.

Generally, only applications for occupations falling under NOC 0 or A are permitted. For listed occupations that fall outside NOC 0 or A, the officer reviewing the application should ensure that it is processed, using the same eligibility criteria as for professionals, listed above (for example, 4-year post-secondary education in a field related to the occupation, minimum number of years of work experience).

General
  • Accommodation service manager
  • Actuary
  • Forestry professional
  • Geomatics professional
  • Graphic designer and illustrator
  • Industrial designer
  • Land surveyor
  • Logistics professional or logistics expert
  • Management consultant
  • Mathematician
  • Primary production manager (except agriculture and related professions), including a manager who plans, organizes, directs, controls and evaluates the operations of establishments in the following primary industries
    • forestry and logging
    • mining and quarrying
    • oil and gas drilling
    • production and servicing operations
    • commercial fishing
  • Statistician
  • Aeronautical engineer
  • Electronics engineer
  • Software engineer and designer
  • Systems engineer
Computer and information systems
  • Database analyst and data administrator
  • Information and communication technology professional
  • Information systems analyst
  • Software developer
  • Web designer and developer
  • Computer programmer
  • Interactive media developer
Science
  • Archeologist
  • Anthropologist
  • Astronomer
  • Biologist (including ecologist, animal geneticist, food scientist)
  • Geochemist
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Meteorologist
  • Paleontologist
  • Physicist

Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System

When the applicant selects the work permit type “Exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment”, on the application, the “Case Type” field, in the Global Case Management System (GCMS), is set automatically to “52”.

When the offer is correctly matched with the work permit application, GCMS automatically populates the following fields and allocates the compliance fee:

  • LMIA Exemption Code
  • Employer Name
  • Occupation Title
  • NOC Code

Officers can review the information in the “Employment Details – LMIA-exempt” tab, on the “Case” screen, and confirm that it is fully and accurately complete [R209.11]. Officers can also review the “Fees” tab to confirm that the employer compliance fee (if applicable) has been paid.

Based on fields in the offer of employment, officers should enter the following, on the “Application” screen:

  • “Province of Destination”: address of physical job location
    • If there is more than 1 location, officers should enter the primary location in the “Province of Destination” field and the secondary locations in the “Remarks” field.
  • “City of Destination”: address of physical job location
    • If there is more than 1 location, officers should enter the primary location in the “City of Destination” field and the secondary locations in the “Remarks” field.
  • “Salary”: amount per year as indicated wage, in Canadian dollars, and number of work hours
  • “Employer”: business operating name
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