NAFTA Work Permit



The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was established to strengthen ties and promote business between Canada, U.S. and Mexico. The work permit provisions found under this agreement fall under the International Mobility Program provisions and were put in place to allow for the easy facilitation of skilled professionals looking to enter Canada to conduct business or bring designated professional skills to Canada without needing a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).


You must be a U.S. or Mexican citizen. U.S. does not include citizens of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands however, citizens of the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are covered. There are four main categories to apply under NAFTA:

  • Business visitor: Conducting business of a commercial nature in Canada but with no intent to enter the Canadian labor market.
  • Professional: Provide services and work for an existing Canadian company or employer.
  • Intra-company transfer: Those who are employed by a Mexican or American company/employer and are being transferred to a Canadian associate branch or subsidiary.
  • Traders and investors: Traders exchange goods or services between Canada and Mexico or the U.S. while investors make investments to support or advance Canadian businesses.


This work permit allows you to visit and enter Canada without needing a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to conduct business activities or provide professional services. A work permit can be granted for a maximum of twelve months and can be extended later. This type of permit can also lead to permanent resident options should the person wish to stay in Canada permanently and subsequently apply for Canadian Citizenship.


While everyone’s case and circumstances are different, there are some common traps, pitfalls, and misconceptions when it comes to applying under this program. Here are some general and common ones we have experienced and encountered throughout the years:

There is usually some confusion as to what types of business activities can be conducted. These are usually in commercial nature that help the function and cycle of business operations. Examples can include sales, production, marketing, distribution, services of a general nature and after sales, and growth and manufacturing.

Professionals under NAFTA refers to those with pre-arranged employment with a Canadian employer and have qualifications to work in that profession. Qualifications can include a degree or certification in a related program, or they have professional qualifications in their field.

The requirements for traders are that they are involved in trades in goods or services that occur between either the U.S. or Mexico, and Canada. The traders’ position must have essential skills and be at a supervisory or executive level. Essential skills mean they have important expertise that are integral to the company’s operations and trades.

Investors can only be investors and not be investors and traders. To be considered an investor, you must have contributed or are actively making a “substantial investment.” Your purpose of entry is to develop the business enterprise and if you are an employee, then it must be an executive or supervisory position or a title that involves essential skills.


We understand that information can be found on the Internet and there are lots of other consultants or lawyers out there, so things can certainly get confusing very quickly for you. However, our value is in our services and how can simplify a sometimes-complicated process while anticipating and proactively making this whole process easy for you, from the start to the end of your immigration journey. We will guide you and provide:

  • An affordable service with an individualized payment schedule to suit any budget
  • Comprehensive documents required for the process, including information and tips that can’t be found on the IRCC website
  • Personalized immigration advice and solutions that are tailored to your case
  • Collaboration with a licensed immigration consultant who will communicate and represent your case on your behalf
  • Support and Assistance through every stage of the process, from the application to the arrival in Canada.


A: No, as this is only for citizens and you will need to show proof of Citizenship, such as a passport.

A: There is no minimum financial level for a “substantial” investment. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment and there will be a proportionality test done. The total investment is the cost of an established business or money needed to establish a business. Depending on the type of business, the officer can assess how much or how substantial it would be to fund those operations. It must also be a real franchise or business that promotes services, goods or products. As an example, a restaurant would require $100,000 CAD to be operational so the investor would need to show investments of the high percentage of that.

A: There are no requirements to show for language proficiency in English or French. However, you will need to communicate and correspond for the application. Should there be any issues or concerns with this, we suggest booking a consultation to plan your best options in advance.  Remember this permit will normally be processed at the border and the officer may ask questions about your ability to conduct operations or operate safely in an English/French environment.

A: The officer will decide the validity date with a maximum of up to one (1) year. You can request an extension later, but must be mindful that any extension needs to be treated carefully and can not go on infinitum.

A: This is a tricky situation, as you will need to show documentation as part of the file to show reason for entry so it will depend on the case. It is best that you speak to a consultant and get the proper advice for your situation.

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