What is the CPTPP and what immigration advantages does it offer?


This guest article was authored by Jake Garson, Summer Student, Corporate Immigration Law Firm.

The field of immigration is dynamic, and it is difficult to be consistently aware of its frequent changes. It is therefore prudent to be on alert for significant developments that may affect the way immigration law is practiced. This article will illustrate the trade agreement known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”).

The CPTPP is a free trade agreement that was enacted on December 30, 2018, and began with six countries taking part (Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore). Since this time, four other countries have joined, which include Brunei, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam although many of them have still not ratified all the agreement’s provisions. The CPTPP evolved from the Transpacific Partnership (“TPP”) that was signed in 2016 and included the United States, however it could not be ratified after the Trump administration decided to withdraw in 2017.

The CPTPP retains a large portion of the TPP’s provisions, however it contains several modifications and additions such as the removal of the United States’ stringent copyright and IP protections. The various aims of the program are to decrease non-tariff, and tariff related trade barriers (approximately 95% trade goods tariffs removed), as well as introducing greater regulatory and development coherence between participating countries. Lastly the agreement contains provisions that are intended to promote greater transparency concerning government procurement and increase the level competition between businesses who are bidding on procurement projects. When fully implemented the CPTPP is estimated to encapsulate 13.5% of the global GDP and 500 million consumers.

A relevant effect­ of the CPTTP is its impact on the Canadian immigration system. In this regard the Canadian government has made commitments to expand temporary access in four categories of businesspeople, which include business visitors, intra corporate transferees, investors, and highly skills professionals.

This expanded access is a result of the removal of multiple restrictions and tests for certain categories (notably – the Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”). The CPTPP introduces new exemptions for those that satisfy its requirements. A variety of provisions remain in place that restrict the use of these exemptions to specific member countries within the CPTTP. For example, the trade agreement’s LMIA exemption for intra-corporate transferee (“ICT”) is restricted to Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru, and does not include Singapore and Vietnam (code T51).

Furthermore, the CPTTP’s LMIA exemption for professionals and technicians (code T52) is restricted to four of the other ten members which include Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Peru. The CPTTP LMIA exemption for investors is limited to Australia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam. The business visitor work permit exemption is limited to Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Finally, with the exception of business visitors, an open work permit may be available to spouses of individuals that reside in the above categories, and who are also citizens of Australia, Japan, or Mexico. It should be noted that although the LMIA exemption codes, spousal work permit, and business visitor work permit exemption is limited to certain member countries, all foreign nationals remain eligible for these exemptions if they satisfy the requirements under one of the non CPTPP related exemption codes outlined by the IRCC.

The expanded access is significant as the exemption to a LMIA streamlines the procedure of transferring employees for transnational corporations. This privilege has previously been limited. For example, American and Mexican corporations, as part of the CUSMA agreement would comply. Now, this is offered to several of the agreement’s member countries. The expanded access facilitated by the agreement will make Canada a more attractive environment for business residing in the participating member countries who wish to pursue expansion opportunities within the Country. Furthermore, the United Kingdom has formally applied to join the organization and commenced negotiations with the CPTPP commission on June 2, 2021.  If the negotiations with the United Kingdom are successful, it will open the Canadian, business-related immigration system to a powerful and lucrative market. Although the definite economic impact of this agreement remains to be seen, it will certainly impact the volume of temporary resident and business-related immigration applications.

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