How to Obtain a NAFTA Work Permit

Steps in Obtaining a NAFTA Work Permit

Canada is a progressive country that highly values their economy and the individuals who contribute to it. There are many more individuals coming to Canada for work opportunities, especially skilled foreign nationals. As a result, Canada has implemented beneficial options for these individuals, whether to immigrate to Canada or simply just to work. In order to legally work in Canada, one must apply for a work permit prior to doing so. Furthermore, if you are an American or a Mexican national, you will need a NAFTA work permit. Therefore, in this article, I will address what a NAFTA Work Permit is, who is eligible to apply, and how to apply for a NAFTA Work Permit in Canada.

What is a NAFTA Work Permit

Before explaining what a NAFTA work permit is, I must first explain what the abbreviation NAFTA means. NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. It was established and created in order to be the world’s largest free trade. It is essentially an agreement between three countries – Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It came into effect on January 1 of 1994 and was signed by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Mexican President Carlos Salinas and U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

Fortunately for individuals from all three countries, the economy has risen substantially since the agreement was established. Additionally, the standard of living has also improved. It is evident that by implementing these trades and investments between these countries, it has created a very concrete foundation for building and improving Canada’s prosperity.

The NAFTA essentially allows temporary entry into Canada for business persons that are American, Mexican or Canadian citizens. Unfortunately, permanent residents from these countries do not qualify under this work permit. In addition, they must also be involved in the trade of goods or services and/or in investment activities. An advantage of the NAFTA is that it does not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for all business persons applying under this specific work permit.

Eligibility for a NAFTA Work Permit

In order to become eligible for a NAFTA work permit, you must first of course be either an American citizen, Mexican citizen or Canadian citizen. If you qualify as a citizen of one of these countries, then you must ensure that you fall under one of the following business person categories:

  • Business visitors
  • Professionals
  • Intra-Company Transferees
  • Traders & Investors

In order to understand and accurately determine whether you fall under these categories, I will define each below.

Business Visitors

These business persons participate in international business activities that relate to research and design; growth, manufacture and production; marketing; sales; distribution; after-sales service; and, lastly, general service. Luckily for business visitors, they are authorized to enter Canada for business and may participate in their designated activities without a work permit. However, they are still required to obtain authorization to enter Canada by obtaining a temporary resident visa.


These business persons enter Canada to provide pre-arranged professional services. These services can either be as a salaried employee of a Canadian enterprise or business; through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer; or, through a contract between either the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise or business. It is important to note that professionals are only to provide services in their designated field under which they are appropriately qualified for. However, professionals are LMIA exempt but are still required to obtain a work permit to work in Canada.

Intra-Company Transferees

These business persons must be employed by either a American or Mexican enterprise and are being transferred to a Canadian enterprise or business that is either the parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, to provide the same services they are currently providing to their American or Mexican employer. Most importantly, only employees in a managerial, executive capacity, or in an occupation which involves a specialized knowledge, may qualify for this work permit. However, intra-company transferees are LMIA exempt but are still required to obtain a work permit to work in Canada.

Traders & Investors

These business persons perform substantial trade in goods or services between the United States or Mexico and Canada. They can either also commit, or will commit, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and investors must be employed under an occupation such as a supervisor, an executive or one that involves essential skills. However, traders & investors are LMIA exempt but are still required to obtain a work permit to work in Canada.

How to Apply for a NAFTA Work Permit

The application process for a NAFTA work permit is different depending on the business person that is applying. Below I will explain the documentation required for each business person in order to apply for the work permit.

Business Visitors

In order to apply as a business visitor for a NAFTA work permit, you must provide:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship
  • Appropriate documentation to support your purpose of entering Canada, such as any of the aforementioned business activities
  • Appropriate evidence to prove that the business activity is international in nature and that the business visitor is not trying to enter the Canadian labour market – In order to prove this, the business visitor may provide:             – the primary source of renumeration is outside of Canada; and,             – the business visitor’s place of business is outside of Canada and the profits          attained are accumulated primarily outside of Canada.


In order to apply as a professional for a NAFTA work permit, you must provide:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship
  • Satisfactory confirmation of the pre-arranged employment provided by: – A duly signed contract with a Canadian enterprise or business, or; – An offer of employment from a Canadian employer, or; – A letter from the American or Mexican employer that permits their services to be provided to the Canadian enterprise or business.
  • Appropriate documentation that demonstrates the following: – The proposed employment in Canada; – The profession in Canada; – Details of the intended position, including title, duties, duration of work, payment arrangements; and, – Educational qualifications for the intended position.
  • Sufficient evidence to prove that the professional has the Minimum Education Requirements, such as degrees, diplomas, licenses, etc.

Intra-Company Transferees

In order to apply as an intra-company transferee for a NAFTA work permit, you must provide:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship
  • An employment letter verifying that the transferee is employed by an enterprise outside of Canada. The letter must also include: – At least 1 year of full-time experience) – Transferee’s current position in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity with a description of the position, title, location, and duties or responsibilities
  • If applicable, if the transferee has specialized knowledge they must prove this knowledge and show that the Canadian enterprise requires this knowledge
  • A description of the position in Canada, including the position, title, location and job description
  • Duration of stay in Canada
  • A letter describing the relationship between the Canadian enterprise and the American or Mexican enterprise


In order to apply as a Trader for a NAFTA work permit, you must provide:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship
  • A letter of ownership from a corporate secretary or a company lawyer
  • Evidence showing that they will provide substantial trade in goods or services between Canada and the United States or Mexico
  • Job duties showing they will be employed in a capacity that is supervisory, executive or involves essential skills


In order to apply as an Investor for a NAFTA work permit, you must provide:

  • Proof of American or Mexican citizenship
  • A letter of ownership from a corporate secretary or a company lawyer
  • Evidence showing that the investment will be significantly proportional to the total investment

Keep in mind, for business persons, specifically professionals and intra-company transferees, the application process can be expedited as they can apply through a port of entry (POE). However, if you also have citizenship from a country that requires a visa, then you will require a temporary resident visa prior to entering Canada and should apply at a visa office instead of a POE. For all other business persons, they must apply for a NAFTA work permit at a visa office.

Contact Akrami & Associates

It is essential that you have taken all of the aforementioned important information in consideration prior to applying for a NAFTA Work Permit. Any work permit or temporary resident visa in Canada is a difficult task to apply on your own; therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to submit the application. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped many of our clients apply and receive a NAFTA Work Permit to work in Canada. If you believe that you might be eligible, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advise.

With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!

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