How to Get a CUSMA Work Permit (Formerly NAFTA)

Last updated: 12 March 2024


Under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), eligible U.S. and Mexican nationals can obtain Canadian work permits.

Are you an American or Mexican national looking to work in Canada under CUSMA? The Cohen Immigration Law Firm has over 45 years of experience. Please complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.


Work Permits under the provisions of CUSMA do not usually require a Canadian labour market test, known as the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Although LMIA-exempt, workers and employers who use the CUSMA program must comply with all provisions governing temporary work in Canada.

Because American citizens do not require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to enter Canada, applications for a CUSMA Work Permit may be done at a Port of Entry (such as a border crossing or airport), or at a Visa office, either online or by paper.

Canada recently changed entry requirements for Mexican citizens, meaning that they will need a TRV, unless they meet all three of the following criteria:

  • They are entering Canada by air, or flying to Canada to transit to another destination;
  • They are coming to Canada for a short-term visit (usually for stays up to six months in length); and
  • They have either: held a Canadian visitor, work or student visa in the past 10 years, or a valid United States nonimmigrant visa at the time of their application and travel.

These individuals may also be able to get their applications for a CUSMA work permit processed at a Port of Entry. 

There are various categories of temporary work covered under CUSMA:

CUSMA Professionals

A CUSMA Professional must be qualified to work in one of approximately 60 targeted professions. Depending on his or her profession, an applicant may be required to provide educational credentials and/or proof of work experience in the field.

CUSMA Professionals must have pre-arranged employment in Canada in an occupation that matches their qualifications. Individuals who wish to perform self-employed work in Canada are not eligible for this category.

Learn more about the CUSMA Professionals category.

CUSMA Intra-Company Transfers

CUSMA Intra-Company Transferees must be transferred to Canada on a temporary basis in order to work for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their US or Mexican employer. In addition, they must have worked continuously for their US or Mexican employer for at least one of the last three years in a similar position to the work being done in Canada, and be employed by the company at the time of application.

A CUSMA Intra-Company Transferee must work in a capacity that is considered managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge. For general information on intra-company transferees, including those covered under CUSMA, click here.

CUSMA Traders

A CUSMA Trader must demonstrate an intention to carry out substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and his or her country of citizenship, be it the US or Mexico. “Substantial trade” is when more than 50 percent of the trade is done between Canada and one of these countries, based on either the volume or the value traded.

The employing company must also be of either American or Mexican nationality. It is important to note that an existing trade relationship must already exist between the foreign company and Canada, and that the Trader cannot enter for the purpose of establishing trading contracts or clients. In fact, the Trader must be employed as a supervisor or executive, or have duties that involve essential skills.

Learn more about the CUSMA Traders category.

CUSMA Investors

A CUSMA Investor must demonstrate that he or she has made a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business and that he or she is seeking entry to Canada to develop and direct the Canadian business. Work permits in the CUSMA Investor category may also be granted to employees of the primary Investor who can be considered essential staff.

Learn more about the CUSMA Investors category.

Contact the Cohen Immigration Law Firm for Assistance

Do you need work permit assistance? The Cohen Immigration Law Firm can help. We have over 45 years of expertise assisting workers and employers obtain Canadian work permits.

Please complete our short contact form to submit your work permit query directly to one of our lawyers. 

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