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Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement comes into force as of August 15, 2011

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The Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) between Canada and Colombia was originally signed on November 21, 2008. However, it did not come into force until August 15, 2011.

As in the case of other FTAs, the Canada-Colombia FTA contains provisions for the temporary entry of treaty nationals pursuant to Section 204 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. The Canada-Colombia FTA addresses the entry of treaty nationals (on a reciprocal basis) as business visitors, intracompany transferees, traders, investors, professionals and technicians, and spouses. These provisions appear in “Chapter 12 – Temporary Entry for Business Persons.”

Chapter 12 of the Canada-Colombia FTA is almost identical to Chapter 12 of the Canada-Peru FTA, but includes a section allowing for the issuance of open work permits to spouses of traders, investors, intracompany transferees, or professionals and technicians. This is also different from the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), which did not provide for spousal work permits.

According to Operational Bulletin 342, these new open work permits for spouses will be distinct from the C41 open work permits granted to spouses of skilled workers. As such, open work permits granted to spouses of Colombian nationals under the Canada-Colombia FTA will be given the new exemption code T25.

According to Operational Bulletin 342, guidance on the Canada-Colombia FTA will eventually appear as a new section in Appendix B of the Foreign Worker Manual (“FWM”) published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”). Appendix B provides guidance on International FTAs (other than the NAFTA, which is covered by Appendix G).

Until this new guidance has been added to the FWM, immigration officers are instructed to follow Section 2 of Appendix B, which provides guidance on the Canada-Peru FTA. The list of professionals and technicians in the Canada-Peru FTA section is identical to the list in Chapter 12 of the Canada-Colombia FTA in that it contains a list of professionals not covered followed by a list of technicians that are covered.

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Henry J. Chang

Corporate immigration lawyer at Blaney McMurtry LLP
Henry J. Chang is a partner in the business immigration group of Blaney McMurtry LLP. A recognized authority in the field of United States and Canadian immigration law, Mr. Chang lectures extensively on the subject in both the United States and Canada. His written works have appeared in numerous nationally and internationally recognized legal publications, including Immigration Law and Procedure, which has been cited in over 300 federal court decisions. Read more
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