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NAFTA: North America Free Trade Agreement

Work Permits Under the North American Free Trade Agreement for U.S. and Mexican Citizens Entering Canada

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has created benefits for U.S. and Mexican citizens interested in entering Canada for business. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), if someone is entering Canada to work they must qualify under NAFTA, other FTAs or the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), if they don’t have an LMIA. Contact us today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly.

NAFTA allows those who are citizens of the U.S., Mexico and Canada to quickly and easily enter the member countries for investment or business reasons or temporary employment. Non-member citizens must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment and obtain a work permit in order to work in Canada. Those who qualify under NAFTA only need to meet the standard rules for admissibility into Canada.

Who Travels Under NAFTA?

According to IRCC, there are specific groups who can travel into Canada under NAFTA:

If you are not sure if you qualify, it is best to speak with a legal expert. You must have proper documentation in order before you arrive in Canada, and it is best to clarify well ahead of time if you do qualify to enter and work in Canada under NAFTA.

In summary, a valid business visitor from the U.S. or Mexico may not need a work permit if they do not take part in the Canadian labour market. Professionals will have to be qualified and expected to work in one of the jobs designated under the NAFTA arrangement. The full list is found at the official NAFTA website. Citizens of the U.S. must have an Offer of Employment from a Canadian business before they may apply for a work permit. In addition to requirements of a U.S. citizen, Mexican nationals also require a Temporary Resident Visa before entering Canada.

Intra-company transferees must prove they are transferring from the same or a related company outside of Canada, have worked for a specified minimum period of time, have specialized knowledge or management experience, and will need to obtain a work permit. Traders and investors must work at a planning or executive level, their firm must have a large investment in Canada and a work permit is required.

Each category had definite requirements, it is best to speak with your company directly and a legal expert on NAFTA working arrangements before you arrange travel to Canada.

Work Permits

Although traveling under NAFTA can streamline a lot of the typical challenges, a large number of those entering will require work permits. The process for a work permit can be lengthy because of the need for the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). To determine what supporting documents you require and what you must apply for, it is best to speak with an expert ahead of time to discover if you must work with the Canadian employer to be sure this particular issue is addressed.

U.S.MCA and Cross-Border Business: NAFTA 2.0

Commonly dubbed NAFTA 2.0, Canada's new trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, U.S.MCA, was signed literally hours before the deadline on September 30, 2018. U.S.MCA proposes a 16-year agreement, renewable following a six-year review.

NAFTA 2.0 has not yet been ratified.

Contact us today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly.

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I have had the pleasure of working with Evelyn Ackah on various immigration, LMIA, permanent residency and border issues for the past seven years. Evelyn and her team are the ultimate resources for any employer seeking to navigate the ever changing legal climate in a timely and professional manner. Evelyn’s wealth of knowledge, experience and industry connections coupled with her ability to simplify complex legal processes have made her my ‘go-to’ resource for all issues pertaining to business immigration.

– Eileen Marley, Human Resources Business Partner - Corporate and Concord

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