North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico to allow quick entry into each other’s country, whether it is for a temporary business or investment purpose.
Applicants under NAFTA do not require to apply for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This is beneficial because the Canadian employer will not require to have a job offer approved by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in order to hire an American or Mexican business person.
Of course, in order to apply under the NAFTA, applicants must meet the general rules for temporary admittance into Canada.
There are four categories of business people under the NAFTA:
- Business visitors
- Intra-company transferees
- Traders and investors
A business visitor is defined as someone who will be coming to Canada to take part in international business activity without entering the Canadian labor market.
To be eligible for a business visitor visa you must:
- Plan to stay for less than six months;
- Have a place of business and source of income that is outside of Canada;
- Documents to support your application (i.e. adequate funds to support your stay, return ticket); and
- Not to pose a security or health risk to Canadians.
Cross-border business can include:
- Taking orders of goods and services;
- Attending meetings, conferences, conventions or trade-fairs;
- Providing after-sales service (not doing hands-on labor, only managing); and
- Being trained by a Canadian parent company that the applicant will be working for outside of Canada.
In order to work in Canada as a professional, you must be qualified to work in one of the jobs set out in NAFTA. The applicant will require a job offer from the Canadian employer and possess required skills and/or education for the position that is being offered. Below are some examples of the position and education required:
|Profession||Minimum Education or Alternative Credentials|
|Accountant||Baccalaureate or Licentiate Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A|
|Computer Systems Analyst||Baccalaureate or Licentiate Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate and 3 years of experience|
|Engineer||Baccalaureate or Licentiate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Management Consultant||Baccalaureate or Licentiate Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to 5 years’ experience or 5 years’ experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement|
|Zoologist||Baccalaureate or Licentiate Degree|
Canada allows the transfer of certain employees (executives, senior managers and specialized knowledge workers) to the Canadian branch, subsidiary or affiliate of an international company, without an LMIA.
The applicant must:
- Be currently employed by a multi-national company and to be seeking entry to work in a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate of that enterprise;
- Have worked on an ongoing basis for at least one year in the last three years for the same employer in the United States or Mexico;
- Work as a manager, executive or in a position that uses specialized knowledge; and
- Have a valid work permit.
Initial work permits for transferees are valid for at most three years. If transferees are entering Canada to open or to work in a new office, work permits will be granted for up to one year.
Traders and Investors
Citizens of the United States and Mexico can be granted trader or investor status in Canada.
To qualify as a trader, the enterprise that employs the applicant must involve substantial trade in either goods or services and to be of American or Mexican nationality. The trade is typically between the United States or Mexico and Canada.
To qualify as an investor, the applicant must hold American or Mexican citizenship and their enterprise must have American or Mexican nationality. Substantial investment has to be made or is actively being made.
There are certain criteria one must meet to receive trader or investor status in Canada. To learn more, call us at 1-800-CITIZEN and speak to a member of our legal team.
GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TRADE IN SERVICES (GATS)
The GATS is a treaty to which all World Trade Organization member nations are parties. The GATS allows business persons to enter Canada temporarily for work purposes without needing a Labour Market Impact Assessment. There are three categories of business persons who can work in Canada under the GATS: business visitors, intra-company transferees, and professionals.
This category allows temporary foreign workers to enter Canada to engage in international business or trade. Business visitors cannot engage in any gainful employment in Canada and their employer must be a foreign entity. Some examples of eligible international business or trade activities include: commercial video shoots, board of directors’ meetings, and after-sales services such as maintenance and repair.
This category allows foreign workers working at international companies to work in Canada temporarily. These transfers are open to workers holding certain job positions, including executives and senior managers, functional managers, and specialized knowledge workers.
This category is for temporary foreign workers who are contracted to perform a designated professional service in Canada. The contract period cannot exceed three months or 90 consecutive days within a 12-month period. The professional must have the academic credentials and professional qualifications to perform the required service.
The designated professions are divided into two groups. Group 1 professions include the following occupations: engineers, agrologists, architects, forestry professionals, geomatics professionals, and land surveyors.
Group 2 professions include the following occupations: foreign legal consultations, urban planners, and senior computer specialists.
To qualify for this category, the applicant must meet the following criteria:
- be a citizen of a member nation, or a permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand;
- possess professional qualifications in one of the designated professional occupations which have been recognized by a professional association in Canada, if applicable; and,
- meet immigration requirements for temporary entry into Canada.
If you would like to take advantage of the GATS to work in Canada temporarily, call us at 1-800-CITIZEN today to explore your options.
INTERNATIONAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
Canada has Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in place with Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Korea. These four FTAs are similar in principle to NAFTA, but each agreement contains slight differences, as described below.
Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement
For business visitors, the non-exhaustive list of permitted activities is the same as the one contained in NAFTA, but the following activities were removed: harvester owners, transportation operators, Canadian and American brokers performing brokerage duties, and tour bus operators.
Workers interested in working in Canada as professionals can apply under the following categories:
- General (e.g., accountants, architects, and graphic designers);
- Medical (e.g., dieticians, occupational therapists, and pharmacists);
- Sciences (e.g. astronomers, biochemists, and geologists); or,
Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement
The Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement allows permanent residents (not just citizens) of each country in the Agreement to apply to work in Canada temporarily.
For workers who would like to come to Canada as business visitors under this Agreement, the following eligible activities were added to those already included within NAFTA:
- Meetings and Consultations;
- After-lease servicing;
- Cook personnel attending or participating in gastronomic events or exhibitions, or consulting with business associates;
- Information and communication technology service providers attending meetings, seminars, or conferences, or engaged in consultations with business associates; and,
- Franchise traders and developers.
For workers interested in applying as professionals, the Agreement covers technicians, supervisors, and contractors in various industries, such as engineering, mining, and plumbing.
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Under this Agreement, spouses of Traders and Investors, Intra-company Transferees, Professionals, and Technicians are allowed to obtain open work permits to accompany the Applicant to Canada.
Like the Canada-Peru Agreement, the Canada-Colombia Agreement covers a list of professionals, including technicians, supervisors, and contractors in various industries, such as engineering, mining, and plumbing.
Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement
For business visitors, the NAFTA activities were expanded to include after-lease services, and the following activities were removed: harvest owners, customs brokers, and tour bus operators. The categories of activities which are permitted under the business visitors portion of the Canada-Korea Agreement are:
- Research and Design;
- Growth, Manufacture, and Production;
- After-Sales or After-Lease Service; and,
- General Service.
For professionals, workers can apply under the Independent Professionals Category or the Contract Service Suppliers Category. Independent Professionals include architects, engineers, and veterinarians.
Contract Service Suppliers include auditors, chemists, and software designers.
Spouses and common-law partners of Investors or Traders, Intra-Company Transferees, and Professionals may apply for a facilitated open work permit so that they can accompany the Applicant to Canada and work temporarily in Canada.
To learn more about these Free Trade Agreements, call us at 1-800-CITIZEN and speak to a member of our legal team.