For employers looking to send employees to Canada, there is a useful exemption available that could save them the time and headache of securing a work permit. It’s called after-sales service, work without a work permit.
To explain what after-sales service is and how some employers can tap into this exemption, we talked Marina Falkina, our resident global mobility specialist and a Licensed Canadian Immigration Consultant/Practitioner with Envoy. Here are some of her answers to some of the top questions about after-sales service in Canada.
What is after-sales service in Canada?
After-sales service is a work permit exemption for a non-Canadian employee traveling to Canada to provide maintenance on equipment, machinery or software that was manufactured outside Canada and sold to a Canadian customer.
What are the requirements to qualify for after-sales service?
There are four key factors that may qualify an employee and activity in Canada for the after-sales service provision:
- The equipment or software must have been manufactured and purchased from outside of Canada.
- The after-sales activity has to be international in scope. In other words, it must involve more than one country with cross-border activities – for example, between the U.S. and Canada.
- The primary source of remuneration for the foreign national employee or contractor will remain outside of Canada. In other words, the Canadian client is not going to pay the employee for the after-sales services.
- The employee must possess the required specialized knowledge and expertise of the product or software.
Is it easier to enter Canada with the after-sales service provision than a work permit?
It can certainly be more cost effective and streamlined to use after-sales service if the situation warrants. However, it doesn’t mean that the foreign national may simply show up at the border and be automatically granted entry to perform after-sales services in Canada. Rather, a comprehensive package of documentation must be presented to show that the foreign national and assignment in Canada qualify under after-sales service to make it super easy for the border officers to allow entry.
Which industries can use the after-sales service exemption for employees?
Companies that sell machines, equipment or software to Canadian companies with employees who maintain these products after the sales is complete could be eligible for the after-sales service provision. The provision is only available if the machinery, equipment or software is sold for commercial or industrial purposes, not for personal consumption or home use.
Are there certain employees who are better qualified for after-sales service?
Only employees who possess the required level of skills and specialized knowledge to maintain the software or equipment may be eligible. Because the maintenance activities typically require years of experience and specialized knowledge, it’s critical that employers send an expert. There are no explicit requirements written into the provision regarding employee experience, but when showing documentation at the border, it’s important to prove the employee is highly specialized, or you could be risking being denied entry into Canada.
Does the after-sales service have to be written into the initial contract with the customer?
Yes. This is critical. Proper and detailed wording in the original purchase contract is key when Canadian companies purchase commercial or industrial equipment or software from U.S. or other foreign companies. This allows the foreign national contractors to seek entry to Canada and be exempt from obtaining a work permit under the after-sales services provision. This includes contracts, licenses and purchaser sales. Whatever installation upgrade or repairs that you envision in the future – that’s what you should include in the contract. If it’s not in the contract, it’s a no-go. Think through the potential assistance the client may need and include that in the contract to be able to take advantage of the after-sales service.