A new agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico has been signed but is not yet ratified. This deal, known as the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), may replace the existing NAFTA, with new opportunities for eligible professionals to work in Canada.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA, certain types of workers from the United States and Mexico may work in Canada without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The NAFTA Professionals category allows workers across a broad range of occupations to work in Canada.
Chapter 16 of NAFTA, entitled ‘Temporary Entry for Business Persons,’ provides the mechanisms to allow selected categories of temporary workers access to each other’s markets. Whether NAFTA survives the Trump administration intact remains to be seen. For now, the reciprocal trade agreement continues to allow eligible workers to work in Canada on a temporary basis.
NAFTA work permits are issued by the government of Canada under the International Mobility Program (IMP). Because U.S. and Mexican citizens do not require a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada, NAFTA work permit applications may be done at a Port of Entry, at a Visa Office, or online.
There are certain categories for different types of worker.
The NAFTA Professionals category is a popular category for eligible U.S. and Mexican citizens with requisite education and experience to work in Canada. The eligible occupations list includes a broad range of professions.
NAFTA Professionals occupations list
|Profession||Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials|
|Accountant||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.|
|Architect||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Computer Systems Analyst||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or PostSecondary Diploma or PostSecondary Certificate , and three years experience|
|Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims.|
|Economist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Engineer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Forester||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Graphic Designer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or PostSecondary Diploma or PostSecondary Certificate, and three years experience|
|Hotel Manager||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or PostSecondary Diploma or PostSecondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management|
|Industrial Designer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or PostSecondary Diploma or PostSecondary Certificate, and three years experience|
|Interior Designer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or PostSecondary Diploma or PostSecondary Certificate, and three years experience|
|Land Surveyor||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/federal license|
|Landscape Architect||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Lawyer (including Notary in the Province of Quebec)||LL.B., J.D., LL.L., B.C.L. or Licenciatura Degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar|
|Librarian||M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite)|
|Management Consultant||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement|
|Mathematician (including Statistician)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Range Manager/Range Conservationalist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Scientific Technician/Technologist||Possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research|
|Social Worker||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Technical Publications Writer|
|Urban Planner (including Geographer)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Vocational Counsellor||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Medical/Allied Professional occupations|
|Dentist||D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license|
|Dietitian||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience|
|Nutritionist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Occupational Therapist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Pharmacist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Physician (teaching or research only)||M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license|
|Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Psychologist||State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree|
|Recreational Therapist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Registered Nurse||State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree|
|Veterinarian||D.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license|
|Agriculturist (including Agronomist)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Animal Breeder||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Animal Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Apiculturist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Astronomer||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Biochemist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Biologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Chemist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Dairy Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Entomologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Epidemiologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geneticist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geochemist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Horticulturist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Meteorologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Pharmacologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Plant Breeder||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Poultry Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Soil Scientist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Zoologist||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|College||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|Seminary||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
|University||Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree|
NAFTA professionals wishing to work in Canada should note the following requirements:
- Must be a citizen of the U.S. or Mexico.
- Must be in a profession identified in the list above.
- Must have a qualification to work in that profession (degree or certification in a related educational program).
- Must have pre-arranged employment with an employer in Canada.
Must have provision of professional level services in the field of qualification.
Eligible NAFTA investors must demonstrate that they have made a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business and that they will develop and direct the Canadian business. Investors must also demonstrate that they have a controlling stake in the company. Several factors are taken into consideration when determining whether an investor is eligible, such as their title, their place within the company’s hierarchy, their job duties, and more. NAFTA investors generally don’t take part in the company’s hands-on activities.
In order to be considered eligible, the following requirements must be met:
- The investor must have either U.S. or Mexican citizenship.
- The company must have U.S. or Mexican citizenship nationality (a majority of the company must be owned by persons of U.S. or Mexican citizenship).
- Substantial investment must have already been made, or is actively being made, in Canada. In order for the investment to be considered “substantial”, it must be weighed against the total value of the business, or the amount normally required in establishing a venture of that nature.
- The investor is seeking entry into Canada for the sole reason for developing and directing the business.
- If the investor is also an employee of the company, his or her role must be executive or supervisory, or involve essential skills.
Work permits in the NAFTA investor category may also be granted to persons considered essential staff of the investor.
A NAFTA trader is may be someone who has the intention and ability to engage in ‘substantial trade’ of goods or services. Substantial trade in this instance means that more than 50 percent of the company’s international trade is done between Canada and the U.S. or Mexico. This can either be determined through the value of the transactions, or the volume being traded. Numerous transactions, although each may be small in value, might establish the requisite continuing course of international trade.
In order to be considered eligible, the following requirements must be met:
- The applicant has U.S. or Mexican citizenship.
- The employing enterprise has majority U.S. or Mexican nationality.
- The activities involve substantial trade in goods or services.
- The trade is principally between either the U.S. or Mexico, and Canada.
- The position is supervisory or executive, or involves essential skills.
The government of Canada recommends that traders apply for a work permit through a visa office ‘due to the complexity of the application and for reasons of client service, program consistency and reciprocity.’
NAFTA Intra-Company Transfers
Eligible persons from countries around the world may be able to obtain a work permit under Canada’s Intra-Company Transfer program.
Work permits issued under the NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer category may be issued for an initial entry of up to three years. Individuals authorized to enter Canada as a NAFTA intra-company transferee to open an office or to be employed in a new office are typically issued an initial work permit for a maximum period of one year.
Much like the regular Intra-Company Transfer program (to which any eligible person from any country may apply), the NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer category is segmented into three categories of worker:
- Executives primarily direct the management of the enterprise, or a major component thereof, and receives only general (if any) supervision from higher level executives.
- Senior managers manage all or part of the enterprise and supervise or control the work of other managers or professional employees.
- Workers with ‘specialized knowledge’ can demonstrate specialized knowledge of the enterprise’s product or service, or an advanced level of expertise in the enterprise’s processes and procedures.
Transition to Permanent Residence
NAFTA workers in Canada are often in a strong position to become permanent residents of Canada, should they wish to do so. Permanent residents can reside and work in any location in Canada.
Since launching in 2015, Canada’s Express Entry immigration selection system has become the main driver of economic immigration to Canada. In November, 2016, NAFTA workers looking to transition to permanent residence received a major boost as IRCC changed the Express Entry system to allow these workers to obtain Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points without first being issued a LMIA. This important change has made it easier for these workers to increase their CRS score, leading to an improved chance of being invited to apply for permanent residence.
There may also be options to transition to permanent residence outside the Express Entry system, such as through one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
Ultimately, some people who begin working in Canada under NAFTA may become naturalized Canadian citizens. This step comes after the granting of permanent residence.
Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to see Moving2Canada’s list of recommended, accredited representatives who can assist you in your goals.