Canada & USA Business Visitor Guide

Canada & USA Business Visitor Guide

Many entrepreneurs use business visitor status to advance their business. The business activity must be temporary. This guide will cover frequently asked questions regarding business visitor status in Canada and business visitor status in the United States.

What is a business visitor? 

Business visitor status is to facilitate commercial trade between countries. It is meant to facilitate international business activities. This type of status is often used by business people that want to start a business in Canada or the United States, or that want to advance their business abroad in some way by temporarily entering Canada or the United States.

What are the requirements of business visitors?

  • Residence abroad (and cannot have intention to abandon said residence) 
  • Intention to stay in Canada or USA temporarily 
  • Must have qualifying citizenship 
  • Cannot receive compensation from US/ Canada employer or business

What activities is a business visitor NOT allowed to do?

  • A business visitor is not allowed to enter the labor market or work without authorization.
  • Skilled or unskilled work is not permitted in business visitor status. 
  • Cannot be a representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media coming to engage in such a vocation

What are common red flags for business visitors?

The following may cause extra scrutiny for business visitors…

  • Frequent border crossing 
  • Questions surrounding where skilled work is being performed
  • Media personalities coming to engage in their vocation (ie. influencers) 
  • Management of a business

What activities are permitted for business visitors in Canada or United States?

  • Attending business meetings/ conferences/ seminars 
  • Procuring investment opportunities 
  • Interviewing potential employees or business partners 
  • Entering into a lease agreement
  • Presenting product at trade-show or expo 
  • Speaking at an event (so long as unpaid, although can be reimbursed or incidentals such as hotel, meals, travel, etc.)
  • Attending meetings to sell products made abroad;
  • Meeting with local colleagues to report on status of foreign company (or if foreign company is the parent, meeting to review status of Canada/ U.S. operations);
  • Receiving training that will assist with position in foreign company;
  • Receiving technical info/direction from local counterparts;
  • Representing foreign company in negotiations with Canada/ U.S. companies (in addition to sales, this could be strategic agreements, partnerships, or merger discussions);
  • Reviewing of accounting/reports or technical data related to the status of the Canada/ U.S. operations
  • consulting with business associates; 
  • After purchase warranty/ Service on commercial or industrial goods when contract specifically requires it.

How can a lawyer help with my business visitor application?

A lawyer can help you strategize what you can and cannot do as a business visitor, as it applies to your specific circumstance and we can help you prepare you border package as well as prepare for the admissibility interview at the border. 

The first step is to schedule a strategy session to discuss your options, eligibility, and any questions you may have about the process. To schedule a strategy session, here's a link to our calendar. 

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