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Intra-Company Job Transfers

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 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 States and Canada (as well as Mexico) do not require an LMIA work permit for an intra-company transfer between Canada 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.' 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.

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.

Intra-company 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 (USCIS) 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 USCIS 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 USCIS L-1B intra-company visa is for professionals with specialized knowledge who want to temporarily work in the United States. Qualifications for a USCIS 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.

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

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It is one thing to earn a living; it is another thing to make a difference in the world.

This is our formal thank you note to Evelyn Ackah and the Ackah Law Team for all the effort they put into helping us navigate and finally resolve the hurdle that was Canadian Immigration back in the spring of 2012.

A friend referred us to Evelyn; he assured us that Evelyn would take good care of us. Our friend was confident we were in good hands and said Evelyn would do her very best to help us and she did! At the time we did not know that his referral would go far beyond finding us help. Slowly we realized that it would become our own personal story of how we received grace and were reminded of the power in paying it forward

We wrote a detailed page of our dilemma, explaining how we came to be in the position we were in (overwhelmed with the hurdle that was Canadian Immigration and the uncertainty that we faced as a young family in Calgary). Evelyn agreed to take on our file with her team. They found the time to personally call us and listened intently and understood the details of what we were dealing with. They gave us their time, an honest opinion and provided clear direction which proved to be invaluable advice. Months went by but in time, we received word from Ackah Law that the Immigration office had finally reviewed our file and a decision had been made allowing our family to finally put the immigration matter to rest. We were finally able to focus again to live our lives without fear or pending doom.

Looking back now, even the sun appeared to shine a little brighter that day. At first we didn’t know whether to bake them a cake, drive out to meet their team, find their offices and personally thank them with a mighty hug or simply cry out to the heavens in thankful relief. Instead we emailed them to express our heartfelt thank-you and we hoped that they would know deep in their hearts just how grateful we were for all of their help.

Even though we relied on emails and phone conversations to communicate with them that year, we will always remember their constant professionalism, their kindness and understanding at a time that brought us so much pain not to mention fear. As if all their hard work wasn’t enough, Evelyn then then casually mentions that all their work was done pro-bono! We were thoroughly humbled!

To this day we are still eager to share how wonderful they all are as human beings but even more than that, we continue to pay it forward in honour of them, their service to us and their continued dedication in helping others.

Eternally thankful

– The Brummunds

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