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Allen and Hodgman | NAFTA Professional Workers in Canada

NAFTA Professional Workers in Canada


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has made it much easier for United States citizens to work in Canada. A Canadian NAFTA work permit is very similar to the U.S. “TN” visa. With offices in both the U.S. and Canada, our firm handles many NAFTA work authorizations. We can prepare a complete application and guide you through the process. Click here to email us about your case.

Here is some information about the NAFTA category:

  • There are more than sixty categories of NAFTA professionals. They range from Accountant to Zoologist. Common categories include systems analyst for software workers, engineers, registered nurses, dentists and university teachers. Most require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. The degree must be in a field which is related to the NAFTA category. Click here for the complete list of NAFTA jobs.
  • No Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LIMA”) is needed – this is a big advantage of the NAFTA category.
  • NAFTA permits simplified entry into Canada by U.S. citizens to work in certain professional occupations identified by the agreement. Persons who qualify must present themselves at the border with proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of a job offer in one of the NAFTA categories, and proof that the person has the necessary qualifications. The Canadian employer must also file an online “Offer of Employment.” You must be a US citizen; green card holders do not qualify.
  •  While there are many NAFTA categories, NAFTA does not entitle all U.S. citizens to work in Canada. You may need an LMIA, or you may be able to qualify in another category.
  • Several categories do not require a degree. These include Management Consultant, Scientific Technician, and Systems Analyst. Since these serve as “catch-all” categories, applications for these categories are closely scrutinized. Applications in these categories must be carefully prepared! We have successfully obtained many work permits in these categories.
  • NAFTA work permits can be granted for up to three years. These can be extended for additional three-year periods with no fixed limit on the number of extensions.
  • Spouses and children are also admitted as dependents, along with the principal NAFTA worker. Spouses of the principal NAFTA worker can apply for an open work permit at the same time as the principal applicant.
  • Mexican citizens also qualify to work in Canada under NAFTA. Mexican citizens can now apply at the border, since they no longer need visas to travel to Canada.
  • Getting a work permit under NAFTA opens several pathways to Canadian permanent residence. NAFTA workers may qualify for permanent residence under the Skilled Worker category, the Canadian Experience Class, or one of the Provincial Nominee programs. These applications are now processed very rapidly through the Express Entry system.
  • NAFTA also allows Canadian citizens to work in the U.S. under the TN category. Click here for more information.

While NAFTA provides simplified procedures, many applications are refused. We have prepared many successful TN applications.