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Intra-Company Job Transfer

Intra-Company Work Permits and Job Transfers to the U.S. and Canada

Many companies want to move skilled foreign workers to their operations in Canada when a local worker is not available to fill key jobs. NAFTA is an important cross-border business agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico that allows citizens of those countries to quickly and easily enter the member countries for temporary employment, investment or business reasons.

An intra-company job transfer is when an employee is currently working for a company and that company wants to move the employee temporarily to a different country while they continue to work for the same company. Intra-company transferees will require a temporary Work Permit to work in either Canada or the United States.

Individuals and companies who want to apply for an intra-company transfer to Canada or the United States need to ascertain that both the employer and the employee qualify for a temporary Work Permit under NAFTA or non-NAFTA guidelines.

NAFTA and Non-NAFTA Intra-Company Work Permits

Companies who want to transfer employees to either the United States or Canada as intra-company transfers can apply for Work Permits under both NAFTA and non-NAFTA provisions. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has benefits for U.S. and Canadian citizens who want to cross borders for business, including intra-company transferees.

Note: Canada, the United States and Mexico signed a new North American Free Trade Agreement on November 30, 2018, commonly called NAFTA 2.0 or the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CU.S.MA) and the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (U.S.MCA). While not yet ratified, it is not anticipated the provisions discussed will change.

Intra-Company Transfer Work Permits to Canada

Work Permits under the provisions of NAFTA do not usually require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), employers who hire qualifying foreign workers through International Mobility Programs do not require an LMIA. NAFTA is one of the mobility program trade agreements that Canada has signed with over 60 job categories where employees of the United State, Canada and Mexico do not require an LMIA Work Permit for an intra-company transfer between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

IRCC qualifications for an intra-company transfer to Canada include that applicants:

  • will need to obtain a Work Permit
  • must prove they are transferring from the same or a related company outside of Canada
  • have worked continuously for the company that plans to transfer them in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the most recent three-year period
  • have specialized knowledge, executive or senior management experience

How H-1B Visa Holders Can Get an Intra-Company Transfer to Canada

If their U.S. employer has a Canada location or office, United States H-1B visa holders may qualify for an intra-company transfer to Canada. Canada is actively recruiting highly educated and trained immigrants, especially in high technology fields, and wants to keep qualified applicants as permanent residents.

Canada is the U.S.'s largest trading partner and home to many subsidiaries, branches, and affiliates of companies that operate in the U.S. Often these businesses can bring foreign workers to Canada as an intra-company transferee without first having to offer the job to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Free Checklist: How H-1B Visa Holders Can Move to Canada

H-1B visa holders and employers who want to utilize the intra-company transfer category to Canada must meet IRCC qualifications for an intra-company transfer.

Intracompany Transfer Work Permits to the United States: L-1A Visa and L-1B Visa

Executives, managers or workers with specialized knowledge who want to work in the United States can apply for a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (U.S.CIS) L-1 visa. An L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows countries with reciprocal agreements to give employees outside the U.S. an intra-company transfer visa to work in the U.S. for 3 months - 5 years.

Both L-1A and L-1B visa classifications allow a foreign company without a U.S. office to send one of their executives or employees with specialized knowledge to the United States to open a new location.

L-1A Visa

An L-1A intra-company visa is for managers or executives who want to temporarily work in the United States. Qualifications for a U.S.CIS L-1A intra-company transfer to the U.S. include:

  • There must be a relationship between the employer and the foreign company
  • The employer must be or will be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and one other country, though they are not required to be engaged in international trade
  • The employee must have been working for the company for one year within the previous three years
  • The employee must be entering the U.S. to provide managerial or executive level work for the company

L-1B Visa

A U.S.CIS L-1B intra-company visa is for professionals with specialized knowledge who want to temporarily work in the United States. Qualifications for a U.S.CIS L-1B include:

  • There must be a relationship between the employer and the foreign company
  • The employer must be or will be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and one other country, though they are not required to be engaged in international trade
  • The employee must have been working for the company for one year within the previous three years
  • The employee must want to enter the United States to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

TN NAFTA Professional Work Visa

Under NAFTA, a Trade National (TN) Visa allows professionals who are citizens of Canada or Mexico to get a United States temporary Work Visa to work for a U.S. employer in over 60 job categories.

If you are a Canadian citizen, you can apply for a non-immigrant TN visa at the U.S. border or port of entry by providing documentation to the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection agent. The required TN visa documentation required includes:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • A written U.S. job offer detailing the professional capacity in which the employee will work in the United States, the purpose of the employment, the length of stay, and the applicant's educational qualifications
  • Professional credentials (if applicable)
  • Any applicable fees

A U.S. TN visa is typically up to 3 years but can be renewed.

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We couldn’t have made a better choice than Ackah Law for guiding us through a process we knew nothing about. Especially appreciated that they were on top of key dates and deadlines, and making sure everything was followed up in a timely fashion. Evelyn and her team are professional, knowledgeable and quick to respond to our queries. We always knew where we were at in a complex process. We have already recommended Ackah Law to others.

– Lori McGurran

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