What is the CPTPP?
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP“) is a free trade agreement between Canada and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam). On Dec. 30, 2018, the CPTPP came into force between six countries that had ratified the CPTPP: Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore.
The purpose of the CPTPP is to facilitate market access, investment opportunities and trade amongst the parties. Of interest from an immigration standpoint, the CPTPP contains new temporary immigration options for citizens of member countries. From a Canadian perspective, the immigration provisions are aimed at increasing opportunities to support economic growth for Canadians and Canadian businesses and adding greater certainty, predictability and expediency of the immigration process, while taking into consideration Canada’s existing immigration policies and reciprocity between member countries.
The immigration categories under CPTPP are summarized below. The work permit streams under the CPTPP do not require a test of the Canadian labour market and there are no quotas or numerical restrictions for applications. Temporary workers applying for a work permit under the CPTPP must be entering with prearranged contracts or employment offers with Canadian employers. Individuals cannot be “seeking” employment to benefit from the streams.
Citizens and certain permanent residents of member countries who qualify as business visitors may stay in Canada for up to six months, with possible extensions.
Business visitors must be requesting temporary entry into Canada and meet the following requirements:
- The primary source of remuneration for the proposed business activity is outside of Canada; and
- The principal place of business and the predominant place of accrual of profits remain outside of Canada.
Further, business visitors must be seeking to engage in one of the following business activities:
- Meetings and consultations – includes meetings, seminars and conferences.
- Research and design – technical, scientific or statistical researchers conducting independent research or research for an organization outside of Canada.
- Manufacturing and production – purchasing or production management personnel conducting commercial transactions for an organization outside of Canada.
- Marketing – market researchers or analysts conducting independent research for an organization outside of Canada.
- Sales – sales representatives or agents taking orders or negotiating contracts for goods or services for an organization outside of Canada.
- Distribution – transportation operators who are transporting goods or passengers from a place outside of Canada to Canada, or loading and transporting goods or passengers from Canada to a place outside of Canada, without unloading in Canada.
- After-sales or after-lease services – currently only available to citizens of Australia, Mexico or New Zealand who possess specialized knowledge essential to a company outside of Canada. There must be a contract to install, repair/maintain or supervise services or training workers to perform service with respect to a warranty or other valid service contract. The activities must be with respect to the sale or lease of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery (including computer software) which has been purchased or leased from an organization located outside of Canada.
- General service – includes certain professionals engaging in a business activity at a professional or technical level, management and supervisory personnel engaging in a commercial transaction for an organization outside of Canada, certain financial services personnel engaging in commercial transactions for an organization outside of Canada, certain tourism personnel, and translator or interpreters performing services as employees for an organization outside of Canada.
Business travelers from member countries will first be assessed under CPTPP. Where activities do not fall under CPTPP, business travelers will be assessed under the general business visitor provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation (“Canadian Immigration Legislation”).
Intra-Corporate Transferees may stay in Canada for up to three years, with possible extensions. Intra-Corporate Transferees are business persons employed for at least one continuous year in the preceding three year period, by an organization in a member country abroad who seek to provide services in Canada to an affiliated entity in one of the following categories (*depending on the member country):
- executive or manager;
- a specialist*; or
- a management trainee on professional development*.
Although the executive or manager and specialist categories are largely similar to the current intra-company categories under the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the “Management trainee on professional development” is a new category for intra-company transfers. It is defined as meaning an employee with a post-secondary degree who is on a temporary work assignment intended to broaden that employee’s knowledge of and experience in a company in preparation for a senior leadership position within the company.
Individuals who have invested a substantial amount of capital into Canada may apply for a work permit and stay in Canada for up to one year, with possible extensions. Investors are defined as business persons seeking to establish, develop or administer an investment to which the business person or the business person’s enterprise has committed, or is in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital, in a capacity that is supervisory, executive or involves essential skills.
Professionals and technicians
Highly-skilled professionals and technicians may stay in Canada for up to one year, with possible extensions. The CPTPP has a list of specific occupations that are permitted under this category on a country-by-country basis.
Professionals are based on a negative list – all highly skilled (NOC 0 & A occupations) are permitted, except those that are specifically listed. Technicians are based on a positive list – only those specific occupations listed are permitted.
Under to the CPTPP, there are wage, education and experience requirements for professionals and technicians. Professionals and technicians should be provided with at least the prevailing wage received by other similarly qualified professionals and technicians in the industry and in the area where the work is being performed. Further, to qualify as a professional or technician, the applicant must have theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and either evidence of licensing or certification in their occupation (if required by the applicable province or territory in Canada). Where the occupation is unregulated, evidence of the required education or work experience must be demonstrated.
To qualify as a professional, the applicant must have the following:
- a post-secondary degree of four or more years, unless otherwise specified in the country-specific occupation list, and any additional requirements defined in the National Occupational Classification (“NOC”); and
- paid work experience of at least two years in the sector of activity of the prearranged services.
To qualify as a technician, the applicant must have the following:
- a post-secondary or technical degree of two or more years, unless otherwise specified in the country-specific occupation list, and any other minimum requirements for entry defined in the NOC; and
- paid work experience of at least four years in the sector of activity of the prearranged services.
The applicant must also have the ability to communicate in either French or English for the purpose of the job to be performed in Canada.
What this means for employers
The CPTPP provides new opportunities for citizens of member countries to visit and work in Canada temporarily. Further, under the principles of reciprocity, the immigration benefits provided to member countries under the CPTPP are reciprocated and available to qualifying Canadians. This facilitates the entry of Canadians in the member countries and provides Canadians and Canadian companies with new immigration, market and investment opportunities in member countries. The provisions under CPTPP effectively give Canadian employers another option in growing their workforce with the benefit of skilled foreign nationals.
Visit this link for further details of entry requirements under CPTPP and to view the country-specific occupations available under the professional and technician category:
See this link for the full text of the CPTPP.
By Krista Schofer, Gowling WLG