CUSMA Traders

Last updated: 28 August 2020

Under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), a CUSMA Trader may obtain a Canadian work permit without first obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Note: Canada, the United States and Mexico signed a revamped North American free trade agreement on November 30, 2018. Under the new agreement, known as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), eligible U.S. and Mexican nationals will retain access to facilitated Canadian work permits under the same terms as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Please monitor this page for updates.

A CUSMA Trader is defined as someone who has the intention and ability to engage in substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and their country of citizenship.

To be eligible under the CUSMA Trader LMIA exemption, a business person must:

  • Be a citizen of either U.S. or Mexico;
  • Employed by an American or Mexican company (the majority of the company must be owned by persons of American or Mexican citizenship); and
  • Employed in a supervisory or executive position, or have duties that require essential skills to the business.

Additionally, the principal business activities of the American or Mexican company, who employs the business person, must involve the substantial trade of goods or services; and the trade must be principally between either the U.S. or Mexico and Canada.

“Substantial trade”, means that over 50% of the company’s international trade is done between Canada and the company’s country of citizenship. The percentage of the trade can be established by looking at either the total value amount of international transactions or the volume being traded. Additionally, a business person would not qualify as a CUSMA Trader if the company was seeking to establish new trade deals, rather the company that employs the business person must already be doing business in Canada.

In order for a CUSMA Trader to be considered a supervisor or executive, their primary tasks must be to direct, control, and guide employees. Several factors are taken into consideration when determining whether a business person holds a supervisory or executive position, including title, position in the company’s hierarchy, job duties, etc. Typically, a CUSMA Trader does not partake in the company’s hands-on activities.

A CUSMA Trader who is employed in a capacity that involves essential skills must demonstrate that their specific expertise is vital to the company that employs them, operating within the requirements set out above. Often times, it serves to demonstrate that the company was unable to locate a Canadian to perform the duties.

A CUSMA Trader may obtain a work permit valid for an initial one-year period, which may be extended for an additional two-year period. Throughout the duration of the work permit and at the time an extension application is submitted, the above criteria must be met.

Working or Hiring through CUSMA

Please complete this short form to submit your work permit query directly to our specialists. We will respond with an evaluation of your needs.

Please provide complete details about the position offered to the foreign worker, as well as information about the foreign worker (e.g. qualifications, nationality, etc.)