Why Does My US Company Need a Canadian Immigration Lawyer?

Regardless of a company’s industry, in the global economy, it is increasingly common for American companies to send their employees to perform temporary work in Canada. It is important for American organizations to know what is required of them, and their workers, before they send professionals across the Canadian border for work, even for short durations.

It is also imperative to understand that Canada has different requirements to enter the country than the United States. These differences are one of the main reasons why an American company should retain a Canadian law firm that specializes in Canadian immigration law to educate and guide them through the requirements to perform temporary work assignments in Canada.  

In this article, we will discuss themes related to this central question, “If an American company sends employees to Canada for temporary work assignments, should they consider hiring a Canadian lawyer that specializes in immigration legislation?” At first glance, this question may seem obscure, but it has a direct impact on many American companies who conduct business in Canada.

How Can the Differences in Canadian and American Immigration Laws Affect my Company?

While it is true that Free Trade Agreements set the rules of trade and investment between Canada and the United States,  the final decision to allow or deny a foreign worker to enter another country is made by a Canadian immigration officer/border guard at an airport or land border. An immigration officer will follow the Canadian legislation which means that understanding Canadian immigration laws is critical for American companies sending employees to work in Canada.

In most cases, foreign workers cannot enter Canada to perform work without a valid Canadian work permit. In some exceptional circumstances, a work permit may not be required. You can review these exceptions here.

You should also be aware that there are additional  admissibility considerations for anybody wishing to enter Canada, including to perform work. The most common consideration we see is whether or not an individual has a past criminal record. Even if your employee committed a criminal offence many years ago, this can potentially impact whether or not they are permitted to enter Canada under Canada’s admissibility laws.

Why Do I Need to Select a Lawyer who Specializes in Canadian Immigration Law?

Canadian and US immigration laws are different. When sending professionals to Canada, you need to understand these differences to ensure that your employee is able to enter Canada without any delays or difficulties.  

A Canadian immigration law firm will understand these differences and have extensive knowledge of Canadian laws and regulations. American law firms, or firms who do not specialize in immigration law, may not have the level of specialized knowledge required for your business. 

A corporate lawyer or a generalized law firm will likely give you the same message as presented in this article; Canadian immigration law is highly specialized. For this reason, it is recommended that companies seek counsel from a lawyer or law firm exclusively dedicated to practicing it.

Truthfully, many law firms will refer clients seeking assistance with Canadian immigration legislation to law firms solely dedicated to immigration law because it is a niche and highly specialized practice area.

The right immigration law firm will help by being available when professionals are crossing the border. By having lawyers on standby, you can rest assured knowing they are available to act as trusted advisors if you or your employees need their assistance. This may include offering support outside of traditional office hours when professionals/employees arrive at the airport or Canadian land border. The stress of crossing the border for work can also result in missed, lost or forgotten documentation. Having your lawyer on standby can help alleviate any issues that arise out of such scenarios when your employee is at the Canadian border.  

A Canadian Immigration Law Firm is a Good Investment for Your Business

To help ensure a successful temporary work assignment in Canada, an important step in the planning process is to choose an experienced law firm that specializes in Canadian legislation and prides themselves on educating, guiding and providing exceptional service to their clients.

Ashley Fisch B.A., J.D. is an Associate at Kaminker & Associates Immigration Law in Toronto, Ontario