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General Agreement On Trade In Services (GATS)-All You Need To Know

Canada Work Visa For Up To 90 Days Without LMIA Via GATS

Last Updated On 23 March 2023, 10:48 AM EDT (Toronto Time)

A faster route to a Canadian work visa without requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is through the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

It allows skilled foreign workers under three categories to work in Canada for up to 90 days. 

Know General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)?

The World Trade Organization oversees the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and Canada is one of the member countries.

GATS promotes international trade and business travel among its member nations, and there are 164 member countries. 

A GATS Professional is a person who wants to engage in a professional-level activity in a specific profession as part of a services contract obtained by a company in another Member country.

Nevertheless, the person must possess the necessary academic credentials and qualifications recognized by the Canadian professional association. 

Regarding temporary admission of individuals, Canada granted access to three types of business people without the need for a labour market impact assessment: 

  • Business visitors
  • Intra-company transferees
  • Professionals

The Professionals category is to facilitate the short-term admission of a limited number of professionals employed by Member Nations’ in service sectors that Canada has made commitments.

To hire highly skilled foreign workers, Canadian companies can use the subcategories of professionals and intra-company transferees. However, there are certain restrictions for professional admission under GATS. The professionals must meet the occupation requirements below. 

Occupations and requirements under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Covered occupations under GATS

Group 1: Engineers, Agrologists, Architects, Forestry experts, Geomatics specialists, and Land surveyors.

Group 2: Foreign legal consultants, urban planners, and senior computer professionals. 

Professionals in the Group 2 category must meet additional requirements related to the prospective Canadian business and the foreign service provider. There are also restrictions on the number of individuals who can enter specific projects.

The table below shows the minimal educational, alternative credentials and licensing requirements for GATS professional occupations. 

Eligibility Criteria for GATS applicants 

A person from another member country who would like to provide services to a Canadian company is considered a professional under GATS. However, the candidate must:

  • Have citizenship of a Member nation or the right to permanent residence in Australia or New Zealand. Other member countries are listed on The World Trade Organization website. 
  • Have professional qualifications in one of the eligible occupations (listed in the table above). 
  • Provide service under a signed contract between a Canadian service consumer and a service provider from a WTO member country.
    • The foreign service provider must not have a commercial presence in Canada in the case of foreign legal experts, urban planners, and senior computer professionals.
  • Must not provide services in the following sectors: education, health-related services, or recreational, cultural, and sports services.
  • Possess qualifications recognized by a professional organization in Canada.
  • Comply with existing temporary entry immigration regulations, including TRV criteria.
  • The employer in Canada must be engaged in substantive business in the case of foreign legal consultants, urban planners, and senior computer professionals.
  • Senior computer specialists have a cap of ten applicants per project.
  • The maximum time frame allowed is three months or 90 consecutive days within a year with no possible extensions. 

Required Documents for GATS applicants 

  • Proof of Citizenship of a World Trade Organization member nation or permanent resident status in Australia or New Zealand;
  • Copy of a signed contract between the Canadian service consumer and the service provider;
    • The contract may have been signed by a foreign service provider based in any Member country or by a Canadian-based company established by that foreign service provider to market its services in Canada.
  • Documentation containing the following information:
    • The province of destination and the profession for which entry to Canada is requested;
    • Position details such as job description, employment duration and payment arrangements; and 
    • Education documents or alternative credentials to perform job duties in Canada. 
  • Proof of the applicant’s professional credentials, including copies of degrees, diplomas, professional licenses, accreditation, or registration;
  • Evidence that the relevant Canadian professional association has properly recognized the applicant’s academic credentials and professional qualifications; and
  • A temporary or permanent license, if necessary, issued by the relevant province or territorial authority.

Remember that GATS Professionals are only allowed to enter for a specific time period. They are given status for the time necessary to finish the job, up to three months, without the possibility of extensions. 

For more information, refer to IRCC’s official page.


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