Facilitating the legal admission of professionals, business persons, and skilled workers

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)/
Other Free Trade Agreements (Chile/Peru)


The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an international treaty which is applicable to citizens of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The Canada-Chile and Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreements are fashioned with the same provisions, but involves only citizens of these countries.

Both of these agreements allow for admission of citizens of the member nations in such cases as those individuals meet the a requirements of the provisions. These treaties apply to several categories of foreign workers, including Professionals, Intra-Company Transferees, Business Visitors, Investors and Traders. With the exception of the Investor and Trader categories, these cases are processed exclusively at ports of entry, although some locales do allow for pre-approval of such cases (1-3 days delay).

The professional category applies to individuals seeking a work permit who meet certain education and/or training requirements in a specific set of occupations. In addition to the requirements stated in the provisions of the NAFTA and CCFTA agreements, strict definitions of eligible occupations are applied by immigration officials considering these cases.

Professionals must have pre-arranged employment in Canada, and documentation of such at the time of an application. This category does not allow for self-employment in Canada, even for those who otherwise meet the requirements of an eligible occupation.

Intra-Company Transferees are work permit applicants who seek to transfer from a foreign division of a company to an affiliate, subsidiary, branch, or parent company in Canada. Applicants in this category must have been employed by the foreign company for a minimum of one year out of the previous three in a managerial or executive capacity, or must possess specialized knowledge which constitutes uncommon or advanced expertise in some aspect of a company's products or services, procedures, or processes.

The business in the foreign locale and that in Canada must be presently doing business, or must reasonably be expected to be doing business in the future. This allows for the transfer of important personnel to a new division in Canada as long as the viability of that business can be demonstrated in the documentation of an application. 

Business Visitors refer to individuals seeking to conduct business in Canada in related Research and Design; Growth, Manufacture and Production; Marketing; Sales; Distribution; After-Sales Service; and General Service. Although these applicants do not need a work permit, sufficient evidence of the nature of the business activity and the consistency with the provisions of the free trade agreement is important to ensure admissibility.

Traders and Investors carry on a substantial amount of trade in goods or service between member nations, or have invested or are in the process of investing a significant amount of funds into a business in Canada. These applications are generally considered to be the most complex of the categories described here, and require processing at a visa office as opposed to the port of entry. Processing delays when using a visa office can range between a single day, and several weeks depending on the visa office and the mode of submission.


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