USMCA Work Permits for Canada – What You Need to Know
There are several categories of workers who may work in Canada without having to go through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) under the USMCA (United States Mexico Canada Agreement). This used to be called NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) until July 1, 2020. While the section on immigration remained primarily unchanged, chapters pertaining to business, investor and trade work permits in Canada have seen some mechanical changes.
Here, we shall discuss how the transition from NAFTA to USMCA impacts your chances of taking your business or professional excellence across borders to Canada.
USMCA Intra-Company Transfers
The USMCA defines Intra-company transfers as transfer of managerial or executive-level American or Mexican professionals. Apart from that, anyone with specialized knowledge about a certain niche also falls in the same category.
These professionals can be transferred within the company to their Canadian branch, subsidiary or even parent company. Their roles must remain the same, though, as they were in the US or Mexico. All they need is a work permit.
There are several requirements set forth by the USMCA for someone to qualify for an intra-company transfer. These include:
Transferee must be a citizen of USA or Mexico
Must be in an executive or managerial capacity or may have specialized knowledge in a certain niche
The receiving company must have a relationship recognized by the Canadian government (parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary)
The transferee must remain in the same or similar position in Canada, full-time, for no less than a year
All immigration requirements for temporary entry must be fulfilled.
The three categories of employees eligible for a business work permit to Canada:
These are employees who partake directly in the management of a business or company. These individuals need little-to-no supervision or instructions from the upper management.
These are senior-level managers who can supervise the work of other managers or other senior employees.
Specialized Knowledge Workers
These may be employees high up in the chain of command, anywhere in between or at the bottom, but have specialized knowledge about a business’s function, product or service. Their expertise must not be replaceable by outside hires.
Learn more and complete free eligibility assessment form for Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit.
USMCA Trader Work Permit
According to the conditions set forth by USMCA, a trader is anyone with the intention and ability to trade goods or services in Canada. The word used is ‘substantial trade,’ that means that the business’s trade in Canada, Mexico or the US must amount to 50 percent or more of its total trade.
This is not to be confused with Investor work permit though, which we will discuss later. A trader work permit is for people who are actively “doing business”, i.e., continuously providing goods via a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary within Canada, US or Mexico.
Furthermore, the person looking to seek a trade visa for Canada must be in a supervisory capacity, i.e., must direct, control and guide employees. They must not partake in any hands-on activities. This isn’t the same as an investor, but executives may fall under this category. First-line supervisors aren’t eligible for this permit either.
Some requirements set forth by the USMCA include:
A U.S. or Mexican citizenship
The business itself must employ a U.S. or Mexican majority
Major activity of the business must be trade of goods or services
The principle trade areas must be within Canada, U.S. or Mexico
The transferee’s position must be supervisory, executive or should involve essential skills
In order to apply for a business work permit in Canada, the government of Canada suggests that you should apply just as you would for a visa through a visa office.
Learn more about eligibility requirements for Trader Work Permit.
USMCA Investor Work Permit
According to USMCA, an investor is someone who can show when applying for a Canada investor visa that they have a substantial investment within Canadian borders in a new or existing business. The investment should also show that the business is looking to develop further. Where a trader or transferee need to have a management role, investors don’t necessarily need such a role or to take part in any hands-on activities; they just need a majority stake in the business.
Here are some requirements set forth by the USMCA:
Investors must be U.S. or Mexican citizens
The majority of the company invested in must be owned by U.S., Canadian or Mexican citizens
Investments must be “substantial” and must have already been made
For any investment to be “substantial”, the value would be compared against the total business value or the amount that would be required to establish such a business
The investor has no motive other than developing and/or directing the business they have invested in
Investors must not partake in any hands-on activities
The investor must have a majority stake in the business
If the investor is an employee of the company, their role must be executive, supervisory or they must have an essential skill
If the investor has any essential staff that needs to come with them, the USMCA may also issue this staff a work permit with the Canadian investor visa to the investor
Learn more about eligibility requirements for Investor Work Permit.
The USMCA considers an individual a professional if they are entering into an agreement with a business to offer pre-arranged services as a salaried employee or on contract. The contract may be between the professional and a Canadian enterprise or the professional and a US/Mexican company in Canada. To apply for such a work permit, individuals must:
Be citizens of USA or Mexico
The profession must be identified by the Government of Canada (Appendix 2, CUSMA). Learn more by reviewing a complete list of 63 occupations eligible for the USMCA Professionals Category.
A qualification in the same niche, such as a certification, degree etc.
Employment contract or employment letter from a Canadian employer
Fulfilling any and all immigration requirements for entry
When it comes to professional work permits, these can vary depending on the employment duration agreed upon, up to a maximum of 3 years. Other initial work permits such as business, investor and trade work permits are usually offered for three years too.
There is no limit on the number of extensions anyone can get on their permits; the only requirement being that the individual doesn’t violate or fail to comply with any of the conditions applicable to them.