(the following is largely paraphrased from the IRCC website)

The North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA“) is a free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.  It facilities the temporary entry of individuals, including providing certain Americans and Mexicans with the ability to work in Canada without first requiring Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIAs“).

NAFTA does not assist permanent admission, does not apply to permanent residents of the United States and Mexico and does not remove the need for Americans and Mexicans to undergo security screening before entering Canada.

The categories are:

  • Business Visitors;
  • After – Sales Services;
  • Investors;
  • Intra-Corporate Transferees; and
  • Professionals.

Business Visitors

To qualify as a business visitor, an American or Mexican citizen must be entering Canada to conduct activities that are international in scope, have no intention to enter the Canadian labour market, have their primary source of remuneration be outside of Canada and their principal place of business remain outside of Canada.

For example, business visitors engage in international business activities related to research and design; growth, manufacture and production; marketing; sales; distribution; after-sales service; and general service.  Typical examples of business activities include, but are not limited to, consultation, negotiation, discussion, research, participation in educational, professional or business conventions or meetings and soliciting business.

Marketing includes trade fair and promotional personnel attending a trade convention.

Sales representatives and agents taking orders or negotiating contracts for goods or services for an enterprise located in the U.S. or Mexico qualify for entry as Business Visitors, however, they cannot deliver goods or providing services.  The seller may only take orders for the goods or enter into contracts for the services.  Sales representatives and agents also cannot sell Canadian-made goods or services provided by a Canadian.

After-Sales Service

After-sales service includes the installation, or repair, or servicing of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, or computer software.

To qualify to enter Canada to perform after-sales service, an American or Mexican citizen must be entering Canada to install, repair, service (or supervise the installation, repair or service) of equipment or machinery that is commercial or industrial, where such equipment or machinery was manufactured and purchased outside of Canada, pursuant to an original sales contract and any warranty or service incidental to the sale. The work must be carried out during the validity of any warranty or service agreement and require specialized knowledge.

Persons whose activities or services in Canada would constitute hands-on building and construction work may not enter to provide after-sales service.

The purchase of the equipment or machinery or computer software is usually made by a direct sales transaction between a manufacturer or distributor abroad and an end-user in Canada. However, a sales transaction between a foreign manufacturer or distributor and an affiliate (e.g., parent or subsidiary) or an unrelated distributor in Canada, which in turn sells or leases the merchandise to an end-user, is also covered by this provision. In this instance, the Canadian enterprise selling or leasing to the end-user may not be equipped to provide installation or warranty service and relies on the enterprise established in the U.S. or Mexico to provide such services.

Equipment or machinery leased or rented from an enterprise outside of Canada is not covered under the after-sales service provision.

Intra-CompanyTransferees

Intra-company transferees (“ICTs“) are employed by an American or Mexican enterprise in a managerial or executive capacity, or in one which involves specialized knowledge, and are being transferred to the Canadian enterprise, parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, to provide services in the same capacity.

Specifically, the following requirements apply:

  • citizenship of the U.S. or Mexico;
  • seeking employment in an executive or managerial capacity or one involving “specialized knowledge”;
  • transferring to an enterprise that has a qualifying relationship with the enterprise in which he or she is currently employed;
    enterprises in the U.S. or Mexico and in Canada have a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate relationship;
  • continuous employment, in a similar position outside Canada, for at least one year (full-time) in the previous three-year period from the date of initial application; and
  • compliance with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry.

If someone has not had full-time work experience with the foreign company, officers can consider the number of years of work experience, the similarity of positions, the extent of the part-time provisions, and whether the transfer appears to be an abuse, before refusing the work permit.

“Executive capacity” refers to a position in which the employee primarily:

  • directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

“Managerial capacity” refers to a position in which the employee primarily:

  • manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  • has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those, as well as other, personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization); if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organization hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
  • exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has the authority.

Finally, to have specialized knowledge, an individual would be required to demonstrate, on a balance of probabilities, a high degree of both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise.  Unlike with general Intra-Company Transferees, there is no mandatory wage floor in NAFTA.

Professionals and Technicians

Professionals are business persons who enter to provide pre-arranged professional services— either as a salaried employee of a Canadian enterprise, through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer, or through a contract between the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise. Professionals are not subject to an LMIA but require a work permit.

NAFTA provides entry to over 60 professional occupations.  The list is a complete list and cannot be interpreted.  However, where duties are interchangeable alternative job titles may be accepted.  A professional must be entering Canada to provide professional level services in the field of qualification.  In other words, the duties of the profession that the business person intends to practice in Canada must conform to the job duties of the profession.  As well, a professional entering Canada to be a corporate executive must be coming to work in their field of qualification, or the details of the position requirements and job duties of a specific profession are integral to the job.

The Professionals category does not allow self-employment in Canada (i.e., “hanging-out a shingle” to solicit business in the Canadian labour market).  However, it is possible for a professional to be working in Canada on more than one contract at a time.

In instances where a baccalaureate degree is required, the degree must be in the specific field or in a closely related field.

Initial work permits can be granted for durations of up to three years.

Extensions can also be issued in increments of up to three years with no limit on the number of extensions providing the individual continues to comply with the requirements for professionals.

The full list of occupations and the minimum credentials are:

List of eligible professions under the NAFTA Professionals category
Profession Minimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
Accountant Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.
Architect Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence.
Computer Systems Analyst Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate (2 or more years), and three years’ experience.
Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims
Economist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Engineer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence
Forester Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence
Graphic Designer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Hotel Manager (General Manager, Director, Speciality Manager) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management
Industrial Designer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Interior Designer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Land Surveyor Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/ federal licence
Landscape Architect Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Lawyer LL.B., J.D., LL.L, B.C.L. or Licenciatura Degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar
Librarian M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite)

A librarian must have either a Master of Library Science degree; or a Bachelor of Library Science and another baccalaureate degree which was necessary to enter the B.L.S. program.

Management Consultant Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement
Mathematician
(including statistician and Actuary)
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
An actuary must satisfy the necessary requirements to be recognized as an actuary by a professional actuarial association or society operating the territory of at least one of the Parties
Range Manager/Range Conservationalist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Research assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Scientific Technician/ Technologist Possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research
Social Worker Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Technical Publications Writer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Urban Planner (including Geographer) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Vocational Counsellor Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

What constitutes Management Consultants often confuses individuals. A management consultant provides services which are directed toward improving the managerial, operating, and economic performance of public and private entities by analyzing and resolving strategic and operating problems. The management consultant does not take part in the company’s production but seeks to improve the client’s goals, objectives, policies, strategies, administration, organization, and operation. Generally a management consultant is hired on contract to do project work to deal with specific issues or problems.

Scientific Technicians are people seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics. A baccalaureate degree is not normally held by a scientific technician/technologist, however, they generally require completion of at least two years of training in a relevant educational program.  The individuals for whom they wish to provide direct support must qualify as a professional in their own right.

Profession Minimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
Dentist D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license
Dietitian Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/ Medical Technologist (Mexico and the U.S.) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience

Note: A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to perform in a laboratory chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic or bacteriological tests and analyses for diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease.

Nutritionist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Occupational Therapist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Pharmacist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Physician (teaching or research only) M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license
Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Psychologist State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
Recreational Therapist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Registered Nurse State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree; a licence issued by the province of destination is necessary.
Veterinarian D.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license

 

Profession Minimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
Agriculturist (including Agronomist) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal Breeder Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Apiculturist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Astronomer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Biochemist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Biologist
(including Plant Pathologist)
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Chemist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Dairy Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Entomologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Epidemiologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Geneticist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Geologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Geochemist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the U.S.) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Horticulturist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Meteorologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Pharmacologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Plant Breeder Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Poultry Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Soil Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Zoologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

 

Profession Minimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
College Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Seminary Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
University Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Traders and Investors

Traders and investors carry on substantial trade in goods or services between the U.S. or Mexico and Canada or have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and investors must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills.