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Immigration Streams to Canada

Are you an individual looking to move to Canada for employment or a Canadian employer looking to hire a non-Canadian worker? If so, this is the blog for you!

Canada’s robust immigration system has various streams for employment. However, choosing the best stream for any given case is incredibly fact-specific and depends on the applicant’s qualifications, corporate structure, citizenship, and proffered position in Canada.

While in certain circumstances an individual may be able to be employed in Canada for less than 14 days as a business visitor, generally any employment activities will require a work permit through one of the immigration streams detailed below.

Stream 1: Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Most Canadian work permits require that the Canadian employer obtain an LMIA whereby the employer must prove that they were unable to identify and hire a Canadian worker for the proffered position. While the LMIA process is manageable, a successful outcome is highly dependent on a multitude of factors, including the job requirements, the labour market, and the discretionary adjudicative disposition of Service Canada.

Stream 2: International Mobility Program – Intracompany Transferees

This LMIA-exempt work permit, most frequently referred to as an “intracompany transfer” (ICT), is available through various trade agreements and allows individuals that have been employed in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity for at least one year in the last three years and are currently employed by a non-Canadian parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the Canadian employer to apply for work authorization to be employed in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity for the Canadian company.

Stream 3: International Mobility Program – Professionals under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The NAFTA stream is LMIA-exempt and allows citizens of Mexico and the US who meet the qualifications of one of the professional categories listed below to be employed in Canada in that professional position.

The NAFTA professionals include the following: Accountant, Architect, Computer Systems Analyst, Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster, Economist, Engineer, Forester, Graphic Designer, Hotel Manager, Industrial Designer, Interior Designer, Land Surveyor, Landscape Architect, Lawyer, Librarian, Management Consultant, Mathematician, Range Manager, Range Conservationist, Research Assistant, Scientific Technician/Technologist, Social Worker, Sylviculturist, Technical Publications Writer, Urban Planner, Vocation Counselor, Dietitian, Dentist, Medical Laboratory Technologist, Nutritionist, Occupational Therapist, Pharmacist, Physician, Physical Therapist, Psychologist, Recreational Therapist, Registered Nurse, Veterinarian, Agriculturist, Animal Breeder, Animal Scientist, Apiculturist, Astronomer, Biochemist, Biologist, Chemist, Dairy Scientist, Entomologist, Epidemiologist, Geneticist, Geochemist, Geologist, Geophysicist, Horticulturist, Meteorologist, Pharmacologist, Physicist, Plant Breeder, Poultry Scientist, Soil Scientist, Zoologist, Teacher.

Stream 3: International Mobility Program – International Experience Canada (IEC)

This LMIA-exempt category is unique to Canada and facilitates the employment of young professionals and workers in Canada. Although the particular eligibility requirements vary by trade agreement/country, the IEC stream is generally available to individuals from participating countries and are between the ages of eighteen and thirty (some exceptions apply).

Stream 4: International Mobility Program – Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

One of Canada’s newest immigration programs, CETA is an LMIA-exempt stream enabling citizens of the European Union (EU) to be employed in Canada as an intracompany transferee, qualifying professional, contractual service supplier, or independent professional.

Although CETA is a fairly comprehensive immigration stream to Canada, not all professionals qualify, including medical and dental services; veterinary services; midwifery services; services provided by nurses, physiotherapists, and paramedical personnel; and higher education services.

Determining the most advantageous immigration stream for any applicant requires highly technical legal analysis of the applicant’s objectives, the proffered employment in Canada, and the applicant’s qualifications. Furthermore, in addition to obtaining proper immigration legal advice, applicants should obtain appropriate tax advice as any employment in Canada will trigger tax liabilities and related tax considerations.