What is NAFTA?


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade deal between Canada, the US, and Mexico launched in 1994 with the intention to eliminate trade obstacles between US, Canada and Mexico.


Temporary Workers under NAFTA:


NAFTA permits US and Mexico citizens to enter Canada temporarily for work. NAFTA work-permits are Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exempt, however foreign workers and employers have to adhere with the governing laws of temporary work in Canada. Further, professionals who are meant to work in Quebec are also exempt from the Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) requirement.


As US  and Mexican citizens do not require a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada, applications for a NAFTA Work Permit may be done at a Port of Entry (such as a border crossing or airport), or at a Visa office, either online or by paper. Foreign nationals requiring a temporary resident permit to enter Canada must apply for a work permit prior to entry, not at the port of entry.



Categories covered under NAFTA:


There are four categories of people included under NAFTA:

  • Business Visitors: NAFTA business visitors enter Canada for business related activities temporarily
  • Professionals: NAFTA professionals have a pre-arranged paid job in Canada in the occupation (60 targeted professions) that matches their qualifications. Depending on the occupation, they may have to provide educational credentials and proof of work experience.
  • Intra-company Transferees: NAFTA transferees must be transferred to Canada from a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the US or Mexican company temporarily. They should be in an executive, managerial and or specialized knowledge role with the company continuously for minimum 1 years in the past 3 years and provide similar support in the Canada branch.
  • Traders and Investors: NAFTA traders should Carry out substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and his or her country of citizenship; meaning involve in more than 50% of trade between Canada and their country.

NAFTA investors show prove that they have made a considerable investment in a new or existing Canadian business and are seeking entry to Canada to develop and guide the Canadian business. 


Over 60 different professional occupations are eligible to qualify under the NAFTA professional designation. NAFTA Professional work permits are only for workers entering the Canadian labour market temporarily, and their work permits cannot be longer than 3 years in length.


Out of the above 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 receive work permits.


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