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Shabnam Akrami is the Managing Partner and Founder of Akrami & Associates.

Do I need a LMIA or Work Permit to Enter into Canada for Business

Do I need a LMIA or Work Permit to Enter into Canada for Business

Do I need to apply for Canadian LMIA or Work Permit or am I Exempted?

If you fall under the North American Free Trade Agreement you are exempted from obtaining the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) but may require a work permit. The NAFTA main objective is to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment between Canada, The United States and Mexico. To assist business people’s entry into Canada, the NAFTA was put into place to expedite entry into Canada. In this article we will discuss which occupations require a Canadian Work Permit and which occupations are exempted from the obtaining the Work Permit. Also near the end of the article you will find a list of occupations that do NOT require a Work Permit.

Groups that fall under NAFTA

  • business visitors (No work permit required)
  • professionals (need work permit but no LMIA)
  • intra-company transferees (need work permit but no LMIA)
  • traders and investors (need work permit but no LMIA)

Canada Business Visitors:

A business visitor is a person from a foreign country who wishes to enter Canada to engage in international business activities for their employer without directly entering the Canadian labour market. So if you are coming to Canada to meet business people to do business with your firm located abroad without trying to become employed by the Canadian employer than you are considered a business visitor and do NOT require to obtain a work permit.

As the business visitor the individual can come to visit job sites, train Canadian employers on how to use products, sales or any other related business transactions, attend meeting or conferences and buy products for the foreign company. This can only be done if the business visitor can show that their source of income is coming outside of Canada.

What Documents do I need to show as a Business Visitor?

  • Invitation letter from the Canadian organization
  • An employment letter from the foreign company that shows the business visitor is employed full time with their company
  • Letter from the employer confirming that the business visitor is not coming to Canada for employment
  • Letter that shows activities that will be taking place from start to finish in Canada
  • Resume that shows that applicant has experience to provide training and employed by the foreign company and are entering Canada to provide training on a product
  • Copy of passport data page
  • Ties to home country

Canada Business Professionals:

To work as a Business Professional in Canada you have to be qualified to work in one the 60 job titles set out in NAFTA. Some examples would include accountants, engineers, doctors, computer system analysts and much more. Also, as the professional you need to have a job offer from a Canadian employer in that field and have obtained your work permit. The work permit for business professionals can be up to 3 years.

Requirements for Business Professionals

The requirements for Business Professionals who apply for a NAFTA work permit are:

  • Proof of citizenship either U.S. or Mexico
  • Proof of qualification to work in one of the over 60 professions detailed out in NAFTA (for example, relevant degree or certification)
  • Proof of Employment offer from a Canadian employer

Documentation Necessary to Apply

In order to apply for a NAFTA work permit as a professional, the following documents are needed:

  • Proof of U.S. or Mexican citizenship (for example, a valid passport or birth certificate)
  • Documents that confirm a job offer from a Canadian employer (for example, a signed contract, a letter from the employer)
  • Documents that confirm the Canadian employer, profession, details of the position, and the required educational requirements or alternative credentials for the position

Under the Professional category self-employment is not accepted. As the applicant you must have pre-arranged job offer.

As the professional you can apply for NAFTA work permit either at the Canadian port of entry or visa office prior to travelling to Canada.

Intra-Company Transferees

Intra-company transferees are individuals who work for the same company but in a different country. Therefore, to qualify under this category you must have worked continuously for 1 year in the last 3 years for the same employer or related U.S. or Mexican employer. Prior to transferring location as the transferee you need your work permit and your work entails experience as a manager or executive with specialized knowledge.

Intra-Company Transferee Requirements

The requirements for Intra-Company Transferee who apply for a NAFTA work permit are:

  • Must provide proof of citizenship from either the U.S. or Mexico
  • Must have “specialized knowledge” and be able to verify
  • Provide an outline of the position in Canada and proof of employment in a managerial or executive capacity
  • Must prove that the Canadian enterprise being transferred to has a qualifying relationship with the U.S. or Mexican enterprise (for example, being a branch, subsidiary, etc.)
  • Provide proof of ongoing employment for 1 year in the previous 3 year period in a similar capacity outside of Canada
  • Must specify intended duration of stay in Canada

Traders and Investors

If you are trader or investor and like to work in Canada as one you need to m

Traders and investors are a specialized class of NAFTA work permit holders who are generally involved with business activities related to large amounts of trade in goods or services between Canada and either the U.S. or Mexico. This individual would most likely be working in a supervisor or executive type capacity for a company that has made a substantial investment in Canada.

Traders and investors require a work permit and can receive a visa with an initial validity of up to 1 year.

Traders - Requirements and Documentation Necessary to Apply

The requirements for Traders who apply for a NAFTA work permit are:

  • Must provide proof of citizenship from either the U.S. or Mexico
  • Must show that they are employed by a U.S. or Mexican enterprise
  • Verification that business activities involve a large amount of trade in goods / services and that the trade is between Canada and either the U.S. and Mexico
  • Documentation that verifies that the position is in a supervisory or executive capacity or involves essential skills

Investors – Requirements and Documentation Necessary to Apply

The requirements for Investors who apply for a NAFTA work permit are:

  • Must provide proof of citizenship for either the U.S. or Mexico
  • Applicant must show that they are in a supervisory or executive capacity with the enterprise
  • Must be working with an enterprise with American or Mexican nationality
  • Prove that a significant amount of investment has been or is currently being made
  • Applicant must show that they are seeking entry into Canada only to develop or direct the enterprise

How do I know if I need Work Permit?

Below you will find a list of occupations that do NOT require a work permit to enter into Canada.

  • Athletes and coaches
  • Aviation accident or incident investigators
  • Business visitors (business people do not mean the same thing)
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Clergy
  • Convention organizers (if you provide hands on services such audio visuals, decorating, setting up, taking displays then you do require a work permit)
  • Crew members such as truck or bus drivers, shipping and airline workers that either transport cargo or passengers, their work is only related operating vehicles or serving passengers.
  • Emergency service providers (people who help out during natural disasters, industrial accidents that threaten the environment)
  • Examiners and evaluators (professors or academic experts that supervise or evaluate academic projects, research proposals etc.)
  • Expert witnesses or investigators
  • Family members of foreign representatives
  • Spouses and children of foreign representatives.
  • Foreign government officers
  • Foreign representatives
  • Health care students (main goal is training only, lasts less than four months and written approval from the board that regulates their job, not all provinces require one)
  • Judges, referees and similar officials
  • Military personnel
  • News reporters, film and media crews
  • Performing artists
  • Public speakers (event is no longer than five days)
  • Students working off campus
  • Students working on campus

Do I need eTA?

Starting March 15, 2016 you need to have an eTA to be able to enter into Canada. An eTA is an electronic Travel Authorization document for foreign nationals that come from visa exempt countries to be able to fly or transit through Canada. If you are U.S. citizen or traveller with valid Canadian visa then you are not required to obtain an eTA. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens and permanents residents of Canada are not eligible to apply for an eTA.

Travellers that do not have eTA from March 15, 2016 to fall of 2016 can board their flight but need to make sure they have their proper travel documents such as passport. So if you meet the requirements during that period of time mentioned above you can enter into Canada without an eTA.

Contact Akrami & Associates

Still unsure if you require work permit or exempted from LMIA? No problem, call us today at 416-477-2545 and one of your immigration specialists will be glad to answer your questions. Our team of Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants has the knowledge and experience to help facilitate business people’s entry into Canada.

At Akrami & Associates there is always a way!

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