Are you a professional from the United States or Mexico?

Did you know that as a professional from Mexico or the United States, in some circumstances it is easier for you to obtain a work permit?  This is because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (or NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

What are the requirements to be able to apply?

In order to be able to apply for one of these work permits, you must:

  • Be a citizen of Mexico or the United States;
  • Have a valid job offer in Canada in one of the professions listed in the agreement;
  • Meet the qualifications set out in the agreement to work in that profession.

There is no need to show that there is a labour shortage in your profession in Canada nor that no Canadians or permanent residents are available to do the work.

What type of job offer is considered valid?

You can have a job offer from a Canadian business that is seeking to hire you as a worker, have a contract to provide services to a Canadian business, or be working as an employee of a Mexican or American company that has a contract to provide services to a Canadian business.

This program does not, however, allow you to Canada for the purposes of being self-employed as a professional, in the sense that you would be setting up your own business or “hanging out your own shingle.”

For example, if your profession is as a psychologist, you would not be eligible for a work permit under this program to setup and operate your own practice as a psychologist treating people in Canada.  You could though apply for a work permit to work for an existing business that provides psychological services, either as an employee or on contract.  If you are seeking to start your own business in Canada, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit under other programs.

What type of work permit can I be issued?

If you are issued a work permit under this program, it will only authorize you to work in the profession and for the employer stated in the job offer.  To return to our example of the psychologist, if she comes to Canada with a job offer to work for two years as a psychologist at Maple Leaf Psychological Consulting Services, she will only be allowed to work with Maple Leaf Psychological Consulting and not for any other business.  She also can only work for them as a psychologist, and not in any other capacity, such as a receptionist or business manager.  If she receives a job offer with another business or in another position, she would need to get a new work permit authorizing before she could do that work.

Canadian immigration can issue a work permit that is valid for the same duration as the job offer, and up to a period of three years.  Extensions can be granted after the three-year period if you are still eligible.

There is also no requirement that the job offer be for any particular minimum period of time, and so technically you could apply for a work permit as a NAFTA professional even if you have only been offered a job that will last for only a few days.

If I am eligible, how can I apply?

Before you can apply, your employer must be pay an employer compliance fee of $230CAD and fill out an online form with information concerning their job offer.

Since neither Mexican nor American citizens require a visa to enter Canada, you can then apply for a NAFTA work permit as you enter Canada by land or air.  You can also apply through a visa office before you travel to Canada.  Be very careful if you apply at a land border though to make sure that you have a complete application to make sure that you are eligible to apply and have a complete application.  If the border officer has concerns about your eligibility or admissibility, they could not only refuse your application, but also potentially refuse you entry to Canada and even issue you a removal order.  You may want to seek legal advice before applying for a work permit at the border, especially if you have any kind of negative immigration history in Canada or any other country.

In addition to the standard information and documents required to apply for a work permit, you will need to include proof that you have a valid job offer and that you meet the required qualifications set out in NAFTA for your profession.

What are the eligible professions?

The following is the list of professions that are eligible for work permits under this category and the requirements qualifications for each.  Some professions include notes concerning the requirements, which are from the Canadian immigration website.

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. (“State/provincial licence” and “state/provincial/federal licence” mean any document issued by a state, provincial or federal government, as the case may be, or under its authority, but not by a local government, that permits a person to engage in a regulated activity or profession.)
Computer Systems Analyst

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience.

Note:

  • “Post-Secondary Diploma” means a credential issued, on completion of two or more years of post-secondary education, by an accredited academic institution in Canada or the U.S.
  • “Post-Secondary Certificate” means a certificate issued, on completion of two or more years of post-secondary education at an academic institution, by the federal government of Mexico or a state government in Mexico, an academic institution recognized by the federal government or a state government, or an academic institution created by federal or state law.
Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent 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 (See note below for further details.)

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

Note: This provision refers to a management position to which other managers report, e.g., general manager, director. It also refers to specialty managers, e.g., food and beverage managers, convention services managers within a hotel.

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 (including Notary in the Province of Quebec) 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:

  1. a Master of Library Science degree; or
  2. 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

Notes:

  1. 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.
  2. A management consultant may provide the following range of services:
    • conduct a comprehensive examination of the client’s business to isolate and define problems;
    • prepare a presentation and report all findings to the client;
    • work with the client to design and implement in-depth working solutions.
  3. Management consultants assist and advise in implementing recommendations but do not perform functional/operational work for clients or take part in the company’s production.
  4. Any training or familiarization that is provided to management and personnel on an individual or group basis:
    • must be incidental to the implementation of new systems and procedures which were recommended in the management consulting report;
    • must be performed by permanent (indeterminate) employees of the recommending American or Mexican management consulting firm.
  5. Typically, a management consultant is an independent contractor or an employee of a consulting firm under contract to a Canadian client. A management consultant can also occupy a permanent position on a temporary basis with a Canadian management consulting firm.
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
A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics.

Note:

  1. A baccalaureate degree is not normally held by a scientific technician/technologist; therefore, an applicant must possess the skills noted above.
  2. Basic research is theoretical or conceptual and is not conducted with a specific purpose or result in mind. Applied research is conducted with a practical or problem solving purpose in mind.

Additional guidance (as agreed to by all parties of the Working Group, Dec. 2001):

  • Individuals for whom ST/Ts wish to provide direct support must qualify as a professional in their own right in one of the following fields: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics.
  • A general offer of employment by such a professional is not sufficient, by itself, to qualify for admission as a Scientific Technician of Technologist. The offer must demonstrate that the work of the ST/T will be interrelated with that of the supervisory professional. That is, the work of the ST/T must be managed, coordinated and reviewed by the professional supervisor, and must also provide input to the supervisory professional’s own work.
  • The ST/T’s theoretical knowledge should generally have been acquired through the successful completion of at least two years of training in a relevant educational program. Such training may be documented by presentation of a diploma, a certificate, or a transcript accompanied by evidence of relevant work experience.
  • Use the National Occupational Classification (NOC) in order to establish whether proposed job functions are consistent with those of a scientific or engineering technician or technologist.
  • Not admissible as ST/Ts are persons intending to do work that is normally done by the construction trades (welders, boiler makers, carpenters, electricians, etc.), even where these trades are specialized to a particular industry (e.g., aircraft, power distribution).
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

Medical/Allied Professional

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

Note: Physicians may not enter for the purpose of providing direct patient care. Patient care incidental to teaching and/or research is permissible.

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

Note: To be authorized to enter Canada as a registered nurse, 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

Scientist

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

Teacher

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

 

What should I do if I have a job offer as in a NAFTA profession?

If you have a job offer in one of the professions listed in NAFTA and are interested in finding out more, including whether you may be eligible to apply for a work permit under this or any other program, feel free to contact us for more information.  You can reach us at info@bondyimmigration.com or by phone at 416-323-0339.

 

This post is for informational purposes only and is neither legal advice nor a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Immigration policies and programs change frequently, and so the information in this post may have changed since it was prepared on March 14, 2018.

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Aisling Bondy, B.A., LL.B. is the Principal of Bondy Immigration Law.