Most of the Canada Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) has been in force since January 1 of this year. However, in the few months that it has been implemented it appears very little is know or has been written about its potential for facilitating movement between our two countries.
In this first installment, I will be looking at the specific category of “management trainee on professional development” , an definition and category that is distinguishable from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) upon which much of the CKFTA is based.
Article 12.8 defines “management trainee on professional development” as follows:
management trainee on professional development means an employee who has a Bachelor or Baccalaureate degree or who has a license at a professional level concerning the intra-company activity, who is on a temporary work assignment intended to broaden an employee’s knowledge of and experience in a company in preparation for a senior leadership position within the company;
There are a few key words in the definition.
- The individual must be an employee,
- The individual must have a bachelors license at a professional level
- There is an intra-company activity
- The work assignment must be temporary
- broaden knowledge and experience in a company in preparation for a leadership position within the company;
Annex 12-A: Temporary Entry for Business Persons – Section C – Intra Company Transferees is the first and only mention of management trainee in an application form.
It provides that :
8. Each Party shall grant temporary entry and provide a work permit or visa to a business person employed by an enterprise who seeks to render services to that enterprise or a subsidiary or an affiliate or a branch thereof as an executive or manager, a specialist or a management trainee on professional development, provided that the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry. A Party may require the business person to have been employed continuously by the enterprise for one year within the three-year period immediately preceding the date of the application for admission.
The significance of having “management trainee” included in an Intra-Company Transferee (“ICT”) section is a departure from a work permit category that has gotten harder and more difficult to apply for. The benefits of an ICT are clear. These applicants are exempt from having to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment.
In Operational Bulletin 575 – June 9, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada introduced changes making the Specialized Knowledge category more rigorously defined. Under the current ICT regulations, the worker must possess “knowledge at an advanced level of expertise” and “proprietary knowledge of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques or management.”
The only other options are “Executive”, “Senior Manager”, or the even more difficult to obtain “Significant Benefit” category. All of the above options seem more akin to Senior level “experts” rather than younger Korean trainees.
While under the new Express Entry system, they will have difficulty obtaining permanent residency under the Canadian Experience Class or Federal Skilled Worker program for the work experience they gained as a management trainee, it opens up pathways to permanent residency by virtue of the significant Canadian work experience gained. For example, Provincial Nominations and LMIAs are arguably easier to obtain with previous Work Experience with the same Employer supporting the nomination/application.
It is also important to note that both Canada Korea pledge not to require labour certification tests (i.e a LMIA) or impose or maintain a numerical restriction (i.e. a cap) on applicants to this section.
Potential Strategy – Business perspective
A start-up Korean company looking to do business in Canada may be interested in incorporating in Canada to create a vehicle for their management trainee. They may even think about bringing over a senior exec (as an ICT) to begin operations. A trainee, of course, cannot train by themselves and the presence of another Korean senior exec or, even better, Canadian executive and manager would be an asset down the road.
It may also be useful to have the management trainee obtain a Canadian undergraduate/graduate degree, something that will give them significant leverage in the case they wish to pursue a more permanent option down the road. Of course, such a process would enable the student to obtain a Post-Graduate Work Permit for three years, and there would be no need to obtain an ICT for the present time being.
However, down the road, if the Korean Foreign National student chooses to return to Korea to work for a few years or for those Foreign-educated Korean students who do not have Canadian work/study experience, the management trainee option may open up significant doors that otherwise would have been closed.
Canada is eager to provide the experience to future Korean management and leaders. It is up to the Korean companies now to take advantage.