Bring business guests to 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

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid visa.

If your visitor is from a country whose citizens need an eTA, he or she must apply for an eTA online before travelling to Canada by air.

In most cases, applicants will receive an approved eTA within minutes of applying. However, some requests may need several days to process. If this is the case, applicants can expect an email from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) within 72 hours of applying that tells them what the next steps are.

Visitor visa

If your visitor is from a country whose citizens need 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.

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.

Most completed visa applications are processed within a week of when the visa office receives them, with some exceptions for special circumstances. 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. Delays and refusals will result if applications are not complete or if the required documents are missing or suspect.

You can find out more about Canada’s requirements for business visitors under Business visitors: Who can apply.

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 an eTA or a visa is refused

If your potential partner’s eTA or 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, a border services 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 an eTA or a visa is issued, a border services 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 eTA or 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.

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