NAFTA work permit

If you are a citizen of Canada, the United States or Mexico, you may be eligible to enter into the three countries easier and faster without the need of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC/SC.

There are four specific categories of business people under NAFTA: business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors.

Business visitors do not require a work permit. Business visitors usually stay in Canada for a few days or a few weeks. To be considered a business visitor you must show that:

  • you intend to stay for less than six months and do not plan to enter the Canadian labour market
  • your main place of business and source of income is located outside Canada
  • profits from your business will accrue outside Canada
  • you can provide documents that support your application, and
  • you meet Canada’s basic entry requirements

When you arrive at your Port of Entry you must provide immigration authorities with the following:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship

  • Documentation of your business activity and the purpose of your entry (immigration authorities are generally flexible regarding acceptable documentation like business cards or company pamphlets, or even offer the business person the opportunity to have documentation faxed to the immigration authorities)

  • Evidence that your business activity is international in scope and you are not attempting to enter the Canadian labour market

Persons coming to Canada as part of an After-Sales servicing contract must meet the following conditions:

  • After-Sales service is defined to include the installation, or repair, or servicing of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, or computer software. This only includes setting up and testing, and not operating the equipment or software. It also cannot involve any hands-on or building work.

  • The person entering Canada to perform after-sales servicing must be possess specialized knowledge essential to the seller’s contractual obligation. They must:

  • Have a high level of skill and specialized knowledge necessary to perform the work and posses any degrees, diplomas, certification or other qualifications necessary for such specialization.

  • Have undergone additional training essential to providing the service.

  • The person must be employed by an enterprise established in the United States or Mexico.

  • The person’s activities must be supported by clear wording in the sales, warranty, or service contract.

  • They must present immigration authorities with the following:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship

  • Copies of the original sales agreement along with any warranty or service agreements which support the person’s entry into Canada

  • If the After-Sales service person is to perform their work for more than 2 days they will be issued a Visitor Record with an FTA or 054 code indicating that no hands-on work is to be done by them.

Professionals must:

• be qualified to work in one of the more than 60 professions listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of Chapter 16 of NAFTA (See below for the list of professions) and
• have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian enterprise in an occupation that matches the qualification.

A professional must present the following documentation at the Point of Entry or at a Visa Office:

  • Proof of American or Mexican Citizenship

  • Proof of pre-arranged employment:

  • A signed contract with a Canadian firm

  • Evidence of an offer of employment from a Canadian employer

  • A letter from an American or Mexican employer on whose behalf a service will be provided to a Canadian company

  • Documentation showing the following:

  • The proposed employer in Canada

  • The profession for which their entry is being requested

  • Details of the position

  • Educational qualifications and any other needed credentials

  • Engaging in self-employed activities in Canada is NOT allowed. However, a self-employed American or Mexican may be contracted by a Canadian employer to provide professional services in Canada.

  • You can NOT establish a sole proprietorship in Canada for the sake of contracting yourself or work in Canada. The applicant and the Canadian enterprise must be separate entities.

  • Persons who qualify for a NATA work permit under the professional category will normally be granted work permits with a duration of up to 3 years. Extensions of up to 3 years can be granted with no limit on the number of extensions granted.

Intra-company transferees must:

• have worked continuously for at least one year in the preceding three years for the same or affiliated employer in the United States or Mexico
• be transferred to Canada to work temporarily for the same or an affiliated employer and
• work in a capacity that is managerial, executive or that involves specialized knowledge.

When arriving at the Port of Entry, or at a Visa Office, an intra-company transferee must provide the following:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship

  • Proof that they have been employed by the enterprise outside of Canada for at least 1 year during the past 3 years

  • Outline of their current position and position they will assume with the enterprise in Canada

  • Duration of stay in Canada

Most work permits issued to intra-company transferees are of 1 year, but they may be issued for up to 3 years.

Traders or Investors must:

• be seeking to carry out substantial trade in goods or services, mainly between Canada and her or his country of citizenship, or conduct substantial investment activities in Canada, in a supervisory or an executive capacity, or in a capacity that involves essential skills, and
• meet additional requirements under NAFTA such as having American or Mexican citizenship

You are admitted into Canada under NAFTA as either a trader OR an investor but not as both.

Traders are given work permits initially with periods of up to 1 year. Extensions can be granted for periods of up to 2 years. If the trader takes up another job, their status as a trader ends.

Investors are given work permits with periods of up to 1 year. Extensions can be granted for periods of up to 2 years.

List of NAFTA professionals:

  • Accountant

  • Architect

  • Computer System Analyst

  • Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster

  • Economist

  • Engineer

  • Forester

  • Graphic designer

  • Hotel manager

  • Industrial designer

  • Interior designer

  • Land surveyor

  • Landscape architect

  • Lawyer

  • Librarian

  • Management consultant

  • Mathematician

  • Range manager/Range Conservationalist

  • Research assistant

  • Scientific technician/technologist

  • Social worker

  • Sylviculturist (including Forestry specialist)

  • Technical publication writer

  • Urban planner

  • Vocational counsellor

  • Dentist

  • Dietitian

  • Medical laboratory technologist

  • Nutritionist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Pharmacist

  • Physician

  • Physiotherapist/physical therapist

  • Psychologist

  • Recreational therapist

  • Register nurse

  • Veterinarian

  • Agriculturist (including Agronomist)

  • Animal breeder

  • Animal scientist

  • Apiculturist

  • Astronomer

  • Biochemist

  • Biologist (including Plant Pathologist)

  • Chemist

  • Dairy scientist

  • Entomologist

  • Epidemiolosit

  • Geneticist

  • Geologist

  • Geochemist

  • Geophysicist (including Oceanographer)

  • Horticulturist

  • Meteorologist

  • Harmacologist

  • Physicist

  • Plant breeder

  • Poultry scientist

  • Soil scientist

  • Zoologist

  • College/seminary/university Teacher

For more information, contact Mary Zhang at Maxcan's office in Markham, Ontario.