Work Visas for Canadians Under NAFTA 2.0 (USMCA) to Remain...
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Work Visas for Canadians Under NAFTA 2.0 (USMCA) to Remain Strong in 2022



The Canada, U.S., and Mexico trade agreement, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), was signed in late 2018 and ratified by all three countries legislatures in 2019. While the USMCA deals with trade, it also sets new rules around temporary work visas. It works permit applications, some of which are already being utilized today and some that aren’t scheduled to take effect until 2022.

Work Visas for Canadians

The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers. Permanent residents of Canada and Mexico cannot apply for T.N. visas to work as NAFTA professionals.


It can be tricky to obtain a Canada work visa but not impossible with professional help and employer support. Your work visa application will most likely require a job offer letter and a favorable labor market impact assessment document or number, both of which can’t be obtained without the help of a Canadian company.

About Work Visas

According to Canada, the work visa process is more complex and time-consuming than ever before. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). As of May 8, May 8, 2018, 21 H-1B visa categories and other visas allow a foreign worker or entrepreneur with unique skills and talents to temporarily enter Canada for employment purposes.

Your eligibility will depend on what type of visa you’re applying for and on your country of citizenship. For example, a Canadian national seeking an L-1A Work Visa should plan at least two months from their initial petition date if they want expedited processing of their application when filing Form I-129E Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS.


About Work Visas for Canadians Under NAFTA

After President Trump officially passed a new version of NAFTA – called USMCA – work visas for Canadians under NAFTA remain strong. They are here to stay as they protect future Canadian jobs and trade standards. According to government sources, more foreign workers will be needed in Canada over time because of the growing demand by Canadian companies who want and need skilled labor from other countries.

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However, these changes are mainly focused on bringing top talent and expertise into Canada, which may not necessarily have resulted from USMCA but came about after some great negotiating by our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This means there is still a possibility that any Canadian could get work on an E-2 visa or another type of visa to live and work long-term temporarily or permanently in North America or abroad.

Working Visa Agreement

The agreement signed by President Trump and Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,

 is a breakthrough. American workers need protection from foreign competition because of globalization and technological advances. The new deal will require 75 percent of vehicle parts to be made in North America, which would mean that more jobs will be created for auto workers on both sides of the border.

This is a big win for American autoworkers, who have been hard hit by trade with Mexico under NAFTA and displaced by robotics and technology. While wages rose significantly from 2002-2014 due to increased automation at U.S. car factories such as Ford Motor Company’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant or General Motors’ Orion Assembly Center, vehicles are now built faster than ever.

Canada’s Immigration Program Favors Skilled Workers

One of Canada’s key immigration strategies is focusing on skilled workers who can contribute positively to Canadian society through small business creation. During Canada’s 2018 Immigration Levels Plan consultation process, many stakeholders called for a faster and more efficient way of obtaining permanent residence status. We could see significant changes to how Canada grants work visas in the coming years.

If you’re interested in immigrating to Canada, keep an eye out for these changes because they will likely impact you at some point. In general, if you have skills or experience that make you valuable as a worker or entrepreneur—or if your startup has high potential—Canada could be an excellent choice as an immigration destination under USMCA.

The Way Forward

In a press conference Tuesday morning, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that Canada had reached an agreement with its northern and southern neighbors regarding USMCA: The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, formerly known as NAFTA.

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As part of USMCA, which is due to replace NAFTA on December 1, 2018, pending approval from all three nations’ respective legislatures, Freeland said that they would make no charge to existing visa requirements under Chapter 6 of USMCA; Canadians will still be able to travel across borders freely without worry about their citizenship status. She also confirmed that those with Work Permits from each country could continue working in their new home without interruption even after December 1.


The North American Free Trade Agreement is an agreement between Canada, Mexico, and United States creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded: (1) the 1988 Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States, which implemented that aspect of NAFTA relating to trade in goods; and (2) all of Mexico’s pre-existing bilateral agreements with both countries.

NAFTA visa types

  • NAFTA Professionals
  • NAFTA Intra-Company Transferees
  • NAFTA Investors
  • NAFTA Traders
  • NAFTA Business Visitors


USMCA, or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, is a trade agreement that was made to replace NAFTA between those three countries; it focuses heavily on reducing non-tariff barriers. The USMCA deal only covers 35 years, which means that negotiators must meet again in 6 years, but it opens up free trade deals with a market of over 500 million people and 17 percent of global GDP.


However, USMCA also removes many clauses from NAFTA’s chapter 19 (dispute resolution), which may affect future negotiations with China, which has long wanted to eliminate dispute panels from international trade deals.

USMCA visa types

  • USMCA Professionals
  • USMCA Investors
  • USMCA Traders
  • USMCA Intra-Company Transfers

1). The USMCA Professionals

The USMCA Professionals category is popular for eligible U.S. and Mexican citizens with the requisite education and experience to work in Canada. The eligible occupations list includes a broad range of professions.

USMCA professionals wishing to work in Canada should note the following requirements:

  • Must be a citizen of the U.S. or Mexico.Must be in a profession identified in the list above.
  • Must be qualified to work in that profession (degree or certification in a related educational program).
  • Must have prearranged employment with an employer in Canada.
  • Must have the provision of professional-level services in the field of qualification.

2). USMCA Investors

Eligible USMCA investors must demonstrate that they have invested substantially in a new or existing Canadian business and will develop and direct the Canadian industry. Investors must also show that they have a controlling stake in the company. Several factors are considered when determining whether an investor is eligible, such as their title, place within the company’s hierarchy, job duties, and more. USMCA investors generally don’t take part in the company’s hands-on activities.

Work Visas in the USA – Temporary Nonimmigrant Visas – How to Apply

To be considered eligible, the following requirements must be met:

  • The investor must have either U.S. or Mexican citizenship.
  • The company must have U.S. or Mexican citizenship nationality (persons of U.S. or Mexican citizenship must own most of the company).
  • The substantial investment must have already been made, or is actively being made, in Canada. For the investment to be considered “substantial,” it must be weighed against the total value of the business or the amount generally required in establishing a venture of that nature.
  • The investor is seeking entry into Canada for the sole reason of developing and directing the business.
  • If the investor is also an employee of the company, his or her role must be executive or supervisory or involve essential skills.

3). USMCA Traders

A USMCA trader maybe someone who has the intention and ability to engage in ‘substantial trade’ of goods or services. Substantial trade means that more than 50 percent of the company’s international business is between Canada and the U.S. or Mexico.

This can either be determined through the transactions’ value or the volume being traded. Although each may be small in weight, numerous transactions might establish the requisite continuing course of international trade.

4). USMCA Intra-Company Transfers

Eligible persons from countries around the world may be able to obtain a work permit under Canada’s Intra-Company Transfer program. Work permits under the USMCA Intra-Company Transfer category may be issued for an initial entry of up to three years. Individuals authorized to enter Canada as a USMCA intra-company transferee to open an office or to be employed in a new office are typically issued an initial work permit for a maximum period of one year.

Much like the regular Intra-Company Transfer program (to which any eligible person from any country may apply), the USMCA Intra-Company Transfer category is segmented into three categories of workers:

  • Executives primarily direct the management of the enterprise, or a significant component thereof, and receives only general (if any) supervision from higher-level executives.
  • Senior managers manage all or part of the enterprise and supervise or control the work of other managers or professional employees.
  • Workers with ‘specialized knowledge can demonstrate technical understanding of the enterprise’s product or service or an advanced level of expertise in the enterprise’s processes and procedures.


Transition to Permanent Residence

For many temporary workers, getting a work visa is an essential step on their path to permanent residence—and possibly Canadian citizenship one day. Under current immigration rules, most foreign workers need a job offer from a Canadian employer before applying for a work visa or immigrating permanently.

Work visas remain as strong as ever under USMCA. However, employers may need to be more careful about sourcing workers from countries with greater access under previous immigration agreements (such as Mexico). You’ll still need a job offer in hand if you hope to move here and secure your future with a new business or startup idea.

Visas for Canadian and Mexican NAFTA Professional Workers

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created unique economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Select NAFTA to visit the Office of the United States Trade Representative website and learn more.

Apply Now for Work in the USA as a foreigner with a work visa sponsorship

The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers. Permanent residents of Canada and Mexico cannot apply for T.N. visas to work as NAFTA professionals. Select TN NAFTA Professionals on the USCIS website to learn about T.N.’s nonimmigrant status. Continue Reading


After examining all relevant factors, it is clear that work visas and Canadian immigration are not likely to change dramatically under NAFTA 2.0 (USMCA). The new agreement removes tariffs on agriculture and automobile manufacturing, but those sectors have relatively little impact on immigration trends in North America.

So there’s little direct or indirect impact on Canadian work visas or immigration overall due to these changes. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any changes over time.

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