How the CPTPP Can Help You Get Key Personnel into Canada

Canadian companies that do business abroad have a new tool to get key personnel into Canada, thanks to the coming into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on December 30, 2018.

The reciprocal agreement allows for the temporary entry of various businesspeople who are citizens of CPTPP countries, or permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand. These travel privileges apply only to countries that have ratified the CPTPP (currently Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam), and immigration rules can differ from country to country.

This recent development is significant to Canadian companies that do business in CPTPP countries. Below, we’ve outlined who may be allowed into Canada under the CPTPP, and highlighted any restrictions that may apply. (Work permits may also be issued to spouses of each class described below, with the exception of business visitors.)

Business Visitors

Business visitors may enter Canada for a maximum of six months. While many CPTPP business visitors can enter under general provisions of Canadian immigration law, the specifics of this visitor class applies to workers entering Canada to engage in one of the following activities:

  • Meetings and consultations
    These include meetings, seminars and conferences, as well as consultations with business associates.
  • Research and design
    This applies to technical, scientific or statistical researchers.
  • Manufacturing and production
    This applies to purchasing or production management personnel.
  • Marketing
    This applies to market researchers or analysts, as well as trade show personnel.
  • Sales
    This applies to sales representatives or agents, as well as buyers.
  • Distribution
    This applies to transportation operators who are transporting goods or passengers to Canada, or loading and transporting goods or passengers from Canada.
  • After-sales or after-lease services
    While the CPTPP makes this class available only to citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, nationals of other countries (and other CPTPP countries) can use the general after-sales service or lease provisions to enter Canada for the same purposes. In particular, this type of entry allows eligible applicants, such as installers, repair and maintenance personnel and supervisors, to enter Canada to perform services (or train workers to perform services) covered under warranty or other service contract incidentals.
  • General services
    This applies to professionals and technicians (described in greater below), management and supervisory personnel, financial services personnel, tourism personnel, translators and interpreters.


Investors who are citizens of Australia, Japan, Mexico or Vietnam are permitted to enter Canada under the CPTPP for a period of one year if they are here to establish, develop or administer an investment their company has committed (or is in the process of committing) a substantial amount of capital to. These investors must be in a supervisory or executive role, or in a role that requires essential skills.

Intra-corporate Transferees

This class is available to citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Mexico. Intra-corporate transferees are permitted to enter Canada for up to three years, with the possibility of an extension, if they are here to perform services for their employer’s parent company, a subsidiary or an affiliate. They must be working as an executive, a manager, a specialist or a management trainee on professional development. The eligibility requirements for CPTPP intra-corporate transferees are similar to the existing provisions under current immigration laws. The big exception to this is that existing provisions for intra-company transfers place a maximum time cap on how long individuals can stay in Canada. Under the CPTPP, extensions are possible, subject to the discretion of the assessing officer.

Professionals and Technicians

Perhaps the most significant impact the CPTPP will have will be with respect to professionals and technicians. Under the CPTPP, professionals and technicians are allowed to enter Canada for a period of one year, provided that they meet educational and work experience requirements and have the ability to communicate in one of the official languages. They must also be compensated at a level commensurate with similarly qualified professionals and technicians working in Canada.

For citizens of Australia, Japan and Mexico, Canada has what is called a “negative list” for professions and a “positive list” for technicians. The “negative list” allows all professionals to enter Canada with the exception of the professions specifically listed in the CPTPP. The “positive list” sets out technical occupations for which entry under the CPTPP is allowed. Technicians not on the “positive list” and professionals not on the “negative list” cannot enter Canada for work under the CPTPP. Read the complete lists here.

Key Takeaways for Canadian Businesses

Canadian companies that have multinational operations or business partnerships in CPTPP countries should take note of the business travel privileges granted under the CPTPP. If you are interested in bringing workers from a member country into Canada, contact your legal counsel or our immigration team to learn more about CPTPP business travel eligibility.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.