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The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), previously known as the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), created unique economic and trade relationships for Canada, the United States, and Mexico. This type of work permit is available for American and Mexican citizens who wish to enter Canada.
If you are a professional or a business person who is a citizen of the United States or Mexico, the CUSMA allows you to sell, provide goods or services, trade, and invest in Canada.
Individuals who are permanent residents – but not citizens – of the United States and Mexico do not qualify under CUSMA, nor does the privilege of CUSMA extend to spouses and family members. Business persons are grouped under the following 4 categories:
Business persons under this category engage in international business activities related to research and design, growth, manufacture and production, marketing, sales, distribution, after-sales services and general service. They have no intent to enter the Canadian labour market. They are authorized to enter Canada for business purposes without the need of a work permit.
The CUSMA allows for the temporary entry of certain professionals, such as accountants, engineers, and scientists, to work or engage in business activities in Canada.
Business persons under this category are employed by an American or Mexican enterprise in a managerial or executive capacity, or in one which involves specialized knowledge, and are being transferred to the Canadian enterprise, parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, to provide services in the same capacity.They are exempt from LMIA but need a work permit.
Business persons under this category carry on substantial trade in goods or services, in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills, between the U.S. or Mexico and Canada or have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. They are exempt from LMIA but need a work permit.
Below is a list of all the professions eligible under CUSMA, along with their requirements
There are several occupations covered by the CUSMA agreement with required minimum education requirements and alternative credentials (can be found on the CUSMA webpage – Appendix 2). They are exempt from LMIA but need a work permit.
You may be eligible to enter as a business visitor under CUSMA, if:
You may be eligible to enter as a professionals under CUSMA, if:
You may be eligible to enter as an intra-company transferee, if:
You may be eligible to enter as a CUSMA treaty trader, if
You may be eligible to enter as a CUSMA treaty investor, if:
You must apply with all required documents at a Canadian port of entry. You may be authorized to enter at the Primary Inspection Line or referred to Immigration Secondary if you apply to enter under the after-sales service provision. A visitor record may be issued if necessary.
You can apply at a Canadian port of entry, at a visa office before departing for Canada or apply within Canada after entering Canada as a temporary resident. An initial work permit of up to 3 years may be issued, and extensions of up to 3 years each may be allowed with no limit on the number of extensions given that all requirements are met.
You can apply at a Canadian port of entry, at a visa office before departing for Canada or apply within Canada after entering Canada as a temporary resident. Work permits issued at the time of entry may be up to 3 years, but business persons authorized to enter Canada to open an office or to be employed in a new office should be issued an initial permit for a maximum period of one year. Please note that there are maximum years you can stay in Canada under this category for different positions.
U.S. and Mexican citizens can apply for a work permit at a Canadian port of entry, but it is recommended to apply at a visa office because of the complex nature of the application. If you are already in Canada as a temporary resident, you can also apply for a work permit from within Canada. The initial work permit is valid for up to 1 year and can be extended for 2 years if requirements are met.
CUSMA applications may be one of the fastest ways for qualified American or Mexican citizens to get Canadian work permits or business visitor status. In many cases, you may get approved for work permits in as fast as 15 minutes at Canadian ports of entry.
If you have questions about a CUSMA Professional Work Permit or are ready to get started, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can provide you with the guidance and support you need to complete the process successfully.
The difference between the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is that CUSMA is the updated version of NAFTA. CUSMA was signed by the three North American countries on November 30, 2018, and came into effect on July 1, 2020. It replaces the 25-year-old NAFTA agreement and reflects the changing economic, technological, and political landscape in North America.
CUSMA seeks to further facilitate trade and investment between Canada, the United States, and Mexico, while also promoting economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness in the region.
No, self-employed is not allowed under the Professional category. Business persons under this category must be either employed as salaried employees of a Canadian enterprise, through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer, or through a contract between the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise.
Alternative job titles may be allowed if job duties are interchangeable. Your lawyer will assess your detailed job duties and compare them based on National Occupational Classification (NOC) in order to make a decision.
No. Canada has imposed a “cap” on the total duration of employment. The total period of stay for an individual employed in an executive or managerial capacity may not exceed 7 years. For a position requiring specialized knowledge, the total period of stay may not exceed 5 years.
No. CUSMA only covers citizens of the United States and Mexico.
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