What is NAFTA?

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade deal between Canada, the US, and Mexico that was implemented in 1994. NAFTA seeks to eliminate trade barriers between the three countries, such as tariffs on goods, with the goal of encouraging economic integration among them and economic prosperity.

Temporary Entry for Workers

Under NAFTA, business people who are citizens of the US or Mexico may enter Canada temporarily for activities involving the trade of goods or services, or investment. It removes the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for all those covered, and eases the entire entry process.

What Types of Business People May Enter Under NAFTA?

Four categories of business people are included under the agreement:

  • Business Visitors - engaged in activities involving research and design; growth, manufacture, and production; marketing; sales; distribution; after-sales service; and general service.
  • Professionals - enter to provide pre-arranged professional services as a salaried employee of a Canadian enterprise, through a contract between them and a Canadian employer, or through a contract between their American or Mexican employer and a Canadian enterprise.
  • Intra-company Transferees - employed by an American or Mexican enterprise in a managerial or executive role, or in one which involves specialized knowledge, and are being transferred to the Canadian enterprise, branch, or affiliate to provide similar services.
  • Traders and Investors - carry out substantial trade in goods or services between the US and Canada or Mexico and Canada, or have committed/are committing a substantial amount of capital in Canada; must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills.

Out of these categories, business visitors are the only group exempt from requiring a work permit to carry out their activities in Canada. Professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors must obtain work permits. However, NAFTA speeds up the application process, as individuals can apply at the port of entry. All those included are exempt from the LMIA. Please note that nationals requiring a temporary resident permit to enter Canada should apply for a work permit prior to entry, not at the port of entry.

Admissibility

While citizens of the United States or Mexico may be eligible under one of the four categories, the possibility that an individual may not be admitted easily still exists. Those deemed ineligible under the NAFTA agreement, however, still may be eligible to enter as a temporary worker and apply for a Canadian work permit.

Hiring an immigration lawyer may be helpful to any business person with the prospect of working temporarily in Canada. We have helped many clients successfully enter Canada, and though a visa approval is never guaranteed, we are confident that our experience and success rate will allow us to increase your chances of having a positive outcome.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible under NAFTA, fill out our online immigration evaluation, and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and visa options.

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  • The Canadian Bar Association
  • The American Bar Association