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Canada NAFTA Entry Requirements for Management Consultants

Information on temporary entry and travel to Canada. Also includes taxes and standards guides.

Canada NAFTA Entry Requirements for Management Consultants

Postby bridgat » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:22 pm

Canada immigration officials at ports of entry across the country report that most consultants present themselves with enough documentation to facilitate smooth entry. The following three documents must be in the possession of management consultants arriving at a Canadian port of entry, be it a shared U.S.-Canada border crossing or an international airport.

First, proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is essential. An up-to-date U.S. passport, birth certificate (not a copy) or U.S. resident alien card are all acceptable. The resident alien card only applies to citizens of Mexico or Canada, where those two countries are the other parties to the NAFTA. Voter's registration cards and U.S. driver's licenses are not sufficient and have virtually no value as entry documents for Canada.

Second, a personal resume or letter of introduction on company letterhead is recommended. The document should clearly indicate current professional and corporate status and up-to-date personal employment history stating the years of service with the company. This is very useful if the five year experience clause (see notes below) is to be applied to entry qualification. In cases where a company president or CEO is entering Canada, some other senior official with the firm can sign the letter.

Third, a letter of introduction from the Canadian client stating the details of the work to be completed, start and finish dates of the engagement and a contact name and phone number is required. General or form letters from the consultant's company which have no reference or details of the current contract are not adequate. Although not required, a copy of the consultant's professional accreditation may be helpful, especially for independent consultants.

For management consultants traveling to Canada to meet with potential clients or new associates, to attend trade events, to participate in other types of self promotional activities, or at the invitation of a Canadian organization, the third requirement would not apply. In the above situations, commonly associated with marketing, a detailed itinerary, confirmation of event, letters acknowledging meetings or other form of written notice which states the circumstances and dates of the visit, should all prove acceptable. These situations, also within the NAFTA, require that the management consultant qualify for entry as a business visitor. The intent of this category is to facilitate entry for the short term business visitor who has no intention of entering the Canadian labor market. Although the Canadian official may not ask for any of these documents, having them available is required within the terms of the NAFTA and is recommended by the U.S. Commercial Service in Canada.

The first line of questioning on arrival in Canada will be by an official of Revenue Canada (customs), who is charged with administering the requirements of several Canadian agencies, including immigration. Questions by that officer which, in their opinion, are not satisfactorily addressed by the visitor, will result in a referral to the appropriate desk, in this case, Canada immigration. Immigration officials in Canada, as in the United States, are empowered to assess and act on each individual on a case by case basis and to consider the totality of any situation They encounter as to the determination of legitimate entry.

Independent consultants not employed or associated with larger or recognized firms can expect closer scrutiny. However, with the above documentation, Canadian entry should continue to be a relatively routine exercise and, for U.S. citizens, should not require a visit to a Canadian consulate in the United States prior to departure.

Canada, the United States and Mexico have agreed on the terms of reference for management consultants and the description below can be found in the NAFTA, Annex B. Canada immigration officials refer to this and the other NAFTA descriptions for professionals on a regular basis.

NAFTA Annex B defines a management consultant as follows:

Profession: management consultant

Minimum education requirements and alternative credentials:
Baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field or specialty related to the consulting agreement.

Interpretive notes to management consultant:

1. A management consultant provides services which are directed toward improving the managerial, operating, and economic performance of public and private entities by analyzing and resolving strategic and operating problems. Thus, the client's goals, objectives, policies, strategies, administration, organization and operation improve.

2. A management consultant may provide the following range of services:
- conduct a comprehensive examination of the client's business to isolate and define problems;
- prepare a presentation and report all findings to the client;
- work with the client to design and implement in-depth working solutions.

3. Management consultants may assist and advise in implementing recommendations but do not perform functional/operational work for clients.

4. Any training or familiarization that is provided to a Canadian client must be incidental to the implementation of new systems and procedures which were recommended in the management consulting report and must be performed by permanent employees of the recommending management consulting firm.

5. Typically, a management consultant is an independent contractor or an employee of a consulting firm under contract to a Canadian client. A management consultant can also occupy a permanent position on a temporary basis with a Canadian management consulting firm.

Interpretive note 3 is especially relevant, since for a management consultant to perform work other than consulting, would be considered a violation of the terms of entry into Canada.
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