129: Business Immigration Series: General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS)

In this episode of our Business Immigration Series, Mark Holthe and Alicia Backman-Beharry discuss one of the oldest and often underutilized Free Trade Agreement Work Permits, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Key Highlights:

  • Understanding GATS: GATS is a free trade agreement under the World Trade Organization that facilitates the temporary entry of professionals and businesspersons among member countries. Despite being less commonly used, GATS covers significant ground in business immigration law, especially for short-term entries.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Eligibility under GATS is contingent on the applicant being a citizen of a WTO member nation or a permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand. The discussion emphasizes the importance of checking the current list of WTO member nations and understanding the specific categories of professionals who can benefit from GATS.
  • Application Parameters: The podcast highlights the stringent 90-day limit on work permits issued under GATS, underscoring the importance of aligning the permit duration with the scope of the project. It also addresses potential strategies to maximize the benefit of GATS within its limitations.
  • Professional Categories and Requirements: Detailed insights into the professional categories eligible under GATS (e.g., engineers, architects, and senior computer specialists) and the necessity of obtaining relevant licensing from provincial regulatory authorities before applying for a GATS work permit.
  • Application Process and Limitations: Clarification on the application process, including where and how to apply, depending on the applicant's country of citizenship and the necessity of a signed contract between the foreign service provider and the Canadian service consumer.

Important Links:

  1. Book a Consultation: For personalized legal advice on Canadian immigration, book a consultation with Mark Holthe at https://www.holthelaw.com/consultation.
  2. 2024 Express Entry Accelerator DIY Course: Subscribe to prepare and enhance your Express Entry application with the Canadian Immigration Institute's DIY Course at https://www.canadianimmigrationinstitute.com/express-entry-landing-page.

Sponsor Spotlight: Journey Business Plans

Journey Business Plans, our title sponsor, specializes in crafting comprehensive business plans tailored for immigration applications, including intercompany transfers, startup visas, and more. Discover their services at www.joorney.ca and use the code HOLTHEJOORNEY10 for a 10% discount on your first business plan.


This episode offers a comprehensive overview of GATS, shedding light on its potential as a tool for business immigration while acknowledging its limitations. Whether you're a professional seeking entry into Canada or a business looking to navigate immigration laws, GATS presents unique opportunities and challenges worth considering.

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