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How to Work in Canada under the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

By fadi May 22, 2013 (Updated December 19, 2019) 3 min. read
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If you are a professional and need to gain access into Canada for business reasons you are in luck!  There is an agreement called NAFTA which allows citizens of Mexico and the U.S to enter Canada for business purposes.

[NAFTA is under revision. NAFTA will most likely turn into the USMCA (United States Mexico Canada Agreement). USMCA is expected to be approved in the beginning of 2019. Until then NAFTA will remain active and the visas under NAFTA are still available. Learn more about Canadians working under the USMCA]

Understanding the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The goal of NAFTA is to liberalize trade between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It works to abolish tariffs and other barriers to business conducted between the countries, which includes allowing citizens of each member country to have access to the others. In this way, business and trade can be facilitated. Only citizens of the three member countries may be qualified, and permanent residents are not included.

Working in Canada under NAFTA falls under the category of an International Mobility Program, which means those covered by NAFTA do not need an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) to get a Canadian work permit. Though workers and employers using the NAFTA program provisions are LMIA exempt, they still must comply with other rules governing Canadian temporary work permits. Additionally, if you apply under NAFTA your job offer does not need to be approved in order to be hired in Canada. Applications may be done at a Canadian Port of Entry or at a visa office, either online or on paper. For all of these reasons, applying under NAFTA can offer facilitated processing of the application.

NAFTA  applies to four different categories of business people;

Business Visitor

A business visitor is someone who enters into Canada to conduct business and isn’t directly employed in Canada. Business Visitors are usually in Canada for a very short period of time. For example, a meeting or conference. However, people here on this visa are able to stay here for up to 6 months. Please note that a business visitor does not need a visa as they are not directly working for someone in Canada.

NAFTA Professionals

To qualify as a NAFTA professional you must fall into the category of the 60 different professions that have been outlined by CIC. You must have a work permit and have already arranged employment in, once again, one of these 60 outlined professions.

Intra-Company Transferees

If you are applying as an Inter-Company Transferee you must have been working for one full year in the last 3 years for a company either in the United States of America or Mexico. You must also only be visiting Canada for work temporarily and must be affiliated in some way with the company that you are currently working for in the USA or Mexico. This position must also be executive, managerial or involve specialized knowledge. You must also have a work permit.

Traders and Investors

If you are a trader and/or investor looking to come to Canada, you must hold a substantial amount of trade in between Canada and your country of origin. A trader must prove their intent to carry out a substantial trade of goods or services. An investor must demonstrate that they have made a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business, and that they are entering Canada to develop this business. An staff member deemed an essential employee of the primary investor may also be granted a Canadian work visa under the provisions of NAFTA. As a trader or investor, you must once again be in an executive or managerial position, or a position that requires specialized knowledge. All other NAFTA requirements must be met, and work permit is also necessary.

Free Trade Agreements

There are also other agreements called FTA’a (Free Trade Agreements). These agreements are made between Canada and Chile as well as Canada and Peru, these agreements have many similarities to NAFTA, in order to make it easier to enter the Country for business purposes.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

With this Agreement Canada has made it easier for people for foreign business people to access the Canadian Services Market. This applies to over 140 different countries. Unlike the other agreements, this agreement does not cover Traders and Investors, they do cover Business Visitors, Professionals and Intra-company Transferees.

How VisaPlace Can Help

Here at VisaPlace, we have experience working with American and Mexican citizens who would like to work in Canada under NAFTA. If think you may be qualified, what are you waiting for! Schedule a consultation or fill out our free online assessment to find out how we can best assist you.

Eddie de Witt Avatar

Eddie de Witt

When you get the opportunity to go to the US for work from abroad, then I would say VisaPlace would be your best option to get all your documents in place. My 5 star feedback is based on the help I received from Danielle Grbic as she was really professional, I would straight away ask for Danielle to be in charge of your process. From the time that Danielle took over my case I felt confident that it will go well and at the end it went smoother than expected. On my own I would never have been able to get this internal work transfer done as a L1 visa and was best for the professionals to take charge. After arriving in the US, Danielle was still happy to assist with documents and advise. A huge thanks to Danielle and VisaPlace

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Sweet Ness

I spoke with Lilly last week and she’s incredible. Very informative and you can tell she definably cares about her job. She wasn’t pushy at all and she’s there to help you figure out if this service is right for you. I’d recommend contacting VisaPlace if you’re thinkin of traveling internationally and you have questions about the different types of permits.

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Peter Gianakas

I had a great experience with Andrew Diamond from The Visa Place. Andrew was very knowledgable and helped us every step of the way. When we had a discrepancy with my spouse’s Visa Andrew helped us navigate the system in the USA. He even offered to speak directly to the customs and border control officer to help us iron out the situation. Overall the experience was very good and smooth. I highly recommend Andrew and his services at The Visa Place.

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Vanessa Gomes

I spoke with Lilly last week and she’s incredible. Very informative and you can tell she definably cares about her job. She wasn’t pushy at all and she’s there to help you figure out if this service is right for you. I’d recommend contacting VisaPlace if you’re thinkin of traveling internationally and you have questions about the different types of permits.

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TK B

Great firm. They helped me with my visa at a reasonable cost. They were very responsive and most importantly compassionate about my situation. I have no hesitation to recommend them to others

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Nirmal Singh

Really the best immigration law firm. I got visa with their help, they helped me at every step. They answered every single question. I ‘d recommend 10/10

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Krista Sparkes

Extremely satisfied with the professionalism, expertise, efficiency, speed and thoroughness at which my file was managed. Fadi & Danielle are true class acts! Their response times were fantastic (especially during a high-stress period), their quality of work was phenomenal, and their willingness to go the extra mile (without hidden costs, no less!) to prepare me for my work permit interview was unmatched. I strongly recommend VisaPlace to anyone seeking legal counsel as it relates to cross-border services. Highest Regards, Krista

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