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Business trip to Canada: eTA or visa?

A business trip in Canada often does not require a visa. Instead, an eTA permit can be applied for, which is cheaper and easier to get.

The eTA for Canada is a travel permit which allows you to travel to Canada without a visa. However, it comes with a number of requirements which also involve business trips and any potential work you plan to do in Canada.

What does an eTA provide?

The eTA is part of Canada’s visa waiver program for citizens of countries with which Canada has agreements in place to allow for visa-free travel. This means that these people, which includes citizens from the UK and Ireland, do not have to go to the embassy to apply for a visa if they want to travel to Canada. Instead, they can apply for an eTA, which is done entirely online. An eTA is valid for five years and allows you to stay in Canada for up to 6 consecutive months per visit.

Business trip with an eTA

An eTA is not just for tourist trips, it can also be used for business-related travel. No special “business eTA” exists for this, you simply apply for the regular eTA. In theory, you could use that same eTA to go on a holiday as well. However, there are certain limitation surrounding what exactly qualifies as a “business trip”, and what you can and can’t do when travelling on an eTA.

As a rule of thumb, if you plan to perform any physical or manual labour, the eTA is not sufficient and you need a visa. So for instance, if you are visiting a job fair, this is entirely possible with an eTA. However, if you have your own stand there, you cannot physically set it up and tear it down. It sounds strange, but these are the rules. The only cases where you are allowed to perform manual labour is if you are working at a university or at management level.

Similarly, you cannot be employed by a company in Canada, who will then have you perform work for them. As long as you remain employed by your company outside Canada, you can actually do quite a lot of business-related work with an eTA. This includes purchasing goods or services, delivering products or providing after-sales service. Certain professions, such as journalists and athletes, can perform their regular jobs while staying in Canada on an eTA.

If you are travelling to Canada for a business meeting, make sure to carry a letter of invitation from the company or person you will be visiting. While this is not mandatory, it is possible that you will be selected for a random extended screening. Having an invitation letter which contains all of the personal and professional information of the party to be visited, as well as the purpose of your trip, can save you a lot of time. And as they say, time is money!

Applying for an eTA

As mentioned above, the eTA can be applied for online, as opposed to the visa, which requires a personal visit to the embassy. To apply for an eTA, all you need to do is fill in the digital application form and make the payment. Afterwards, you receive an e-mail confirmation once the eTA is approved. This e-mail does not need to be printed. The eTA is automatically linked to your passport. At the airport, all you need to do is have your passport scanned so the airline and customs knows you were granted an eTA.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by e-Visa .

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