Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement – New Avenues for Ukrainians to Work in Canada

Effective July 1, 2024, the immigration provisions of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (“CUFTA”) came into effect. This now brings new avenues for citizens and permanent residents of Ukraine to work in Canada or enter Canada as business visitors. The CUFTA’s immigration provisions contain similarities with other free trade agreements- like the Canada-United States-Mexico-Agreement, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement.

The CUFTA brings new work permit categories and may offer new routes for Ukrainian citizens and permanent residents to remain in Canada who initially came under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (“CUAET”), but who do not have another avenue to remain in Canada as a worker or who have not yet transitioned to permanent residence. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, over 210,000 Ukrainian citizens and permanent residents entered Canada. However, given the difficulty of many newcomers in finding jobs that require higher education and are well-paying, many Ukrainians may continue to be left without a durable solution regarding their immigration status in Canada.

CUFTA Business Visitors

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR”) already contain provisions for business visitors entering Canada, and many of these provisions are re-iterated in the CUFTA. Under the CUFTA, Ukrainian business visitors can enter Canada for up to 6 months for:

  • Business meetings, client meetings, seminars, or conferences;
  • Conducting technical, scientific, or statistical research for a foreign enterprise;
  • Conducting purchasing or other commercial transactions for a foreign enterprise;
  • Conducting market research or analysis for a foreign enterprise;
  • Marketing or promoting for a foreign enterprise at a trade fair/convention;
  • Taking orders for Canadian goods or services, negotiating contracts for Canadian goods or services, or buying Canadian goods or services for a foreign enterprise but not delivering those goods or services;
  • Transporting goods or passengers from Ukraine to Canada;
  • Providing after-sales services to install, repair, and/or maintain products purchased outside of Canada; supervise the installation, repair, or maintenance of products; or train other personnel to perform these services;
  • Engaging in international business activities without directly entering the Canadian labour market;
  • Engaging in business-related duties as management and supervisory personnel for a foreign business (e.g., to lease office space in Canada);
  • Engaging in commercial transactions for a foreign enterprise as a financial services professional (e.g. insurer, banker, investment broker);
  • Attending or participating in a convention or conducting a tour that began outside Canada as a tour guide or travel agent;
  • Translating or interpreting as an employee of an enterprise in Ukraine.

CUFTA Intra-Corporate Transferees

The CUFTA provides for work permits for Ukrainian intra-corporate transferees who are employed by an enterprise in Ukraine; who have worked for that enterprise for more than 1 continuous year in the last 3 years; who work in an executive position, managerial position, or who possess advanced knowledge of the enterprise’s proprietary product, service, research, equipment, techniques, or management; and who will be transferring to a Canadian affiliate, subsidiary, or parent entity.

An initial work permit of 3 years is available with extensions possible. However, the maximum stay for executives and managers is 7 years while it is 5 years for specialists.

CUFTA Professionals

Ukrainian citizens and permanent residents may also be eligible for work permits under the CUFTA Professionals category. They must have a job offer in Canada for either a TEER 0 position, meaning a managerial position, or a TEER 1 position, meaning a position that typically requires a university education as per Canada’s National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) system. However, the following occupation categories are excluded: health, education, and social services occupations and related occupations; judges, lawyers, and notaries except for foreign legal consultants; managers in postal and courier services; managers of telecommunications carriers; occupations related to cultural industries; and recreation, sports, and fitness program and service directors.

They must also have a post-secondary credential of 4 years or more of study and meet the education requirements for their position under the NOC. A bachelor’s degree in Ukraine typically takes 4 years of study.

They must have at least 2 years of paid work experience in the sector of work of their proposed position in Canada. They must also be paid a wage in Canada that is commensurate with other professionals in their industry and region of work. This wage is based on the median wage for the occupation in their region of work, as reported by Employment and Social Development Canada.

A work permit as a CUFTA Professional may be issued for up to 1 year with extensions of 1 year increments available.

CUFTA Investors

Ukrainian citizens or permanent residents who are the owners of an enterprise or an employee of an enterprise and who are establishing, developing, or administering a substantial investment to begin business operations in Canada may be eligible for a work permit as a CUFTA Investor. They must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills. Essential skills refers to special qualifications and knowledge that are vital to the Canadian enterprise’s operations.

A work permit as a CUFTA Investor is available for 1 year. Extensions of these work permits are available but given that this category is based on the establishing, developing, or administering of an investment, the extension request should be considered in this context.

If you or an employee has any questions about the CUFTA and its immigration implications, feel free to reach out to us for a consultation. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416-368-1111) or via email:;;;;;