Eligible U.S. and Mexican citizens can skip some of the red tape to come work or conduct business in Canada.
The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) allows workers, traders, and investors to come to Canada without going through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process. Before July 1, 2020, CUSMA was known as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
CUSMA work permit applicants who are arriving directly from the U.S. can apply at a port of entry, unless they are CUSMA Investors.
There are four types of CUSMA categories in total:
Each category has its own unique eligibility requirements.
CUSMA Professionals need to have a pre-arranged job offer, or a contract in Canada in one of the targeted professions. There are 63 eligible occupations in the fields of medicine, education, science and others.
Depending on the profession, applicants need to provide educational credentials and proof of work experience in their field. It is not for people who want to do self-employed work in Canada.
Canada also allows CUSMA Professionals to come as business visitors, as long as they are not entering the labour market, but soliciting business, consulting, providing advice and meeting clients.
Work permits can be given for up to three years at a time. They can then be extended for up to three years for an unlimited number of times, provided professionals comply with all requirements. However, immigration officers must be satisfied that the employment is still temporary, and that the applicant is not using CUSMA entry to circumvent normal immigration procedures.
CUSMA Intra-Company Transfers
U.S. or Mexican workers who are transferring to a Canadian branch of their company may be eligible for a CUSMA Intra-Company Transfer.
The transfer must be for temporary work in Canada. Eligible candidates need to have previously worked for their U.S. or Mexican employer for at least one of the last three years in a position similar to the one they are taking in Canada. They must be employed by the company at the time of the application.
Their position must be managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge.
CUSMA Traders must be coming to Canada to carry out a substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and the U.S. or Mexico. Canada considers it a “substantial trade” when more than 50 per cent of the trade is done between Canada and one of the other CUSMA countries. The 50 per cent can be comprised of either the volume or the value of the trade.
CUSMA Investors must make a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business, and that they are coming to Canada to develop and direct the business. Work permits in the CUSMA Investor category may also be granted to the essential staff of the company.
Coming to Canada through CUSMA with travel restrictions in place
Their job offer must be at a business or organization that is still operating, the Canadian Border Services Agency told CIC News. People who are applying for the CUSMA work permit from any other country have to make an application for a permit and receive authorization to travel from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Otherwise, these people will not be permitted to travel, and not be able to apply for the CUSMA work permit at a port of entry.
In addition, all foreign nationals who want to come to Canada for work have to be travelling for an essential reason. CUSMA Professionals and Intra-Company Transferees working in critical infrastructure will continue to be permitted to enter, and may be exempt from mandatory quarantine if they do not have symptoms of coronavirus.
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