India asks Canada to ease short-term visa rules for firms

The recent changes made by Canada in its Temporary Foreign Workers Programme have made it difficult for Indian companies to send employees to their Canadian units on short-term visas, India has informed Canada.

Raising the issue with visiting Canadian officials, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said this impacts services trade. In response, the Canadian officials have said they will take necessary steps to ease the movement of professionals.

The issue was raised at a meeting between Canadian Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne and Sitharaman in Delhi last week.

“She discussed the importance of the ease of movement for intra-company transfers on short term visa for filling in certain crucial and specialised activities,” the commerce ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The Indian side cited certain examples and said that a few companies here which have made investments in Canada are finding it difficult to source key employees from India as intra-company transferees.

The Canadian minister assured that a number of steps have been taken to facilitate the ease of movement for professionals into the North American country, said the commerce ministry statement added.

Champagne said that under the Global Skill Strategy Programme, visa applications for high-skilled technicians, professors and researchers will be disposed of within two weeks’ time.

Similarly, for professionals visiting for less than a year, a fast-track process is being set up, the statement said, adding that this will be extended on a priority basis to companies which have invested in Canada.

Both the ministers also agreed to expedite the conclusion of bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

The two countries are negotiating CEPA, under which duties will be eliminated or significantly reduced on goods.

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