Workers across more than 60 occupations can continue to live and work in Canada under the updated free trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA officially came into effect on July 1, 2020. This means the USMCA has officially replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which was introduced nearly 30 years earlier.
On immigration, the new agreement, variously called the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), or, more informally, NAFTA 2.0, remains more or less unchanged from the original and now quarter century-old NAFTA. This is despite significant changes in other areas, such as environmental protection and labour standards.
Under the USMCA, the chapter covering temporary entry for professionals and business persons, Chapter 16, remains largely intact. This may surprise those who expected the number of professions it covered to be reduced, or a cap on renewals to be brought in. Currently, there is no limit on the number of times eligible professionals and business persons may renew their status in Canada. In addition, the same rules that apply to American and Mexican professionals and business persons coming to Canada also apply to eligible Canadians heading to the US and Mexico.
Find out full details on the various work permit options available through the USMCA in our guide to USMCA work permits.
Many commentators expected United States President Donald Trump to double down on the “Buy American, Hire American” policy that has been a cornerstone of his presidency to date. When it came to the final agreement, however, no such restrictions were in the new agreement.
That’s not to say that Trump was the only actor who did not get everything their own way. For example, the Canadian delegation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were among stakeholders who wanted the list of professions covered under Chapter 16 expanded to include more tech and IT occupations that didn’t even exist when the original NAFTA was introduced in 1994.
So after a lengthy negotiating period, Chapter 16 of the new agreement retains the status quo. Eligible workers will still be able to take up employment in Canada without their employer needing to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is typically needed in order for a Canadian employer to hire a foreign worker.
Work permits for Canada under the USMCA
The revised USMCA leaves the list of eligible professional occupations unchanged from the NAFTA list. In addition, the USMCA outlines that there will be no quota on work permits, and therefore access between the countries among eligible professionals will not be restricted numerically.
USMCA eligible occupations for professionals
|Profession||Minimum education requirements|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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 PostSecondary 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|
Find out full details about work permits available through the USMCA in our guide to USMCA work permits.
If you or your employer wish to meet with an experienced Canadian immigration consultant to learn more about an application under this agreement, you can book a consultation right here.