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NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer

NAFTA Intra-company Transfer is a program which permits Canadian and foreign companies to hire skilled foreign nationals from their countries.

Foreign nations need to satisfy specific requirements to get NAFTA Intra-company Transferees to work permits, such as transferring to a Canadian enterprise with a qualifying relationship with a NAFTA company in the United States or Mexico. Also, the temporary worker must be an employee of that company.

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    What Is the North American Free Trade Agreement?

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade deal between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The program allows foreign nationals to work temporarily in any of the three countries. In other words, the NAFTA trade pact grants work permits to American or Mexican citizens to work in Canada.

    NAFTA provides opportunities for foreign companies to transfer highly skilled and knowledgeable temporary workers into Canada, which means that an American or Mexican employer with an enterprise in Canada can transfer employees into Canada.

    NAFTA allows foreign employers to relocate foreign nationals with temporary work permits, thus not requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or a temporary resident visa for employees.

    The objectives of NAFTA are to:

    • Remove trade restrictions and liberalize trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
    • Encourage trade competitiveness between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
    • Abolish trade duties and taxes on foreign goods, as well as many other goods.
    • Introduce new import and export tax.
    • Enforce intellectual property.
    • Provide favorable treatment to investors from these three nations.

    One of the primary focuses of NAFTA is to liberalize and expand trade among the three countries. Doing so ensures that future laws will not impose barriers to doing business by opening up the three nations’ markets. It provides mechanisms for business persons interested in investing and trading to access the open market.

    The mechanisms in place to ensure an open and liberal market are:

    • Provide an accessible temporary entry procedure for business persons into each other’s market.
    • Make NAFTA a reciprocal agreement – reciprocate treatment to Canadian business persons upon seeking entry into the United States or Mexico.
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    What Are the Other Important Things to Know About NAFTA?

    The following are the most important NAFTA features:

    • NAFTA provides work permits for citizens of the three participating countries.
    • It enables foreign companies to transfer employees.
    • Business persons and foreign nationals eligible for NAFTA work permits do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
    • Business visitors under NAFTA do not need work permits.
    • Business visitors and business persons must also meet the requirements for temporary workers.
    • All parties of NAFTA have to fulfill all conditions governing temporary work in Canada.
    • NAFTA professionals and intra-company transferees can start their application process at the Canadian port of entry.
    • Foreign nationals who need a temporary resident visa to enter Canada will have to apply at a visa office before departure from their home country.

    What NAFTA Does Not Cover

    NAFTA applicants will need to meet other basic entry requirements for successful application. Here are the areas NAFTA does not cover:

    • It does not cover permanent residence.
    • Permanent residents of the three countries are not eligible for NAFTA.
    • It is not a substitute for the general provisions for foreign workers.
    • It does not cover you from providing basic travel requirements such as valid passports and identity documentation, medical examinations, admissibility, and police certificates.
    • It does not grant special treatment to spouses or family members. The terms of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Regulations govern their admission.

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      Categories of NAFTA

      NAFTA offers three categories of temporary work:

      NAFTA Professional

      • For persons with pre-arranged employment in Canada in a position that corresponds to their qualifications.
      • Evidence of minimum education requirements applies.
      • Not eligible for self-employed foreign nationals.

      NAFTA Intra-Company Transferees

      • Intra-company transferees are temporarily transferred to Canada to work for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their American or Mexican employers.
      • They must be working for the company before applying.
      • They must perform duties deemed administrative, executive, or requiring specialist knowledge.

      NAFTA Traders and Investors


      • For persons carrying out substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and their countries of citizenship – the United States or Mexico.
      • Substantial trade is qualified as more than 50% of all trade between Canada and one of the NAFTA countries.
      • Must be an American or Mexican citizen.
      • A trade relationship must exist between the foreign company and Canada before the application process.


      • Investors must present evidence of substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business.
      • The development and management of a Canadian company must be the goal of entry into Canada.
      • Employees of the primary investor who are considered essential staff may get work permits.

      What Is NAFTA Intra-company Transfer?


      An intra-company transfer is an international mobility mechanism. It enables foreign companies in Canada to temporarily employ or transfer employees from their home country to work in their Canadian enterprise.

      The intra-company transfer is an International Free Trade Agreement initiative under the International Mobility Program (IMP) called North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The North American Free Trade Agreement is between Canada, U.S, and Mexico.

      An intra-company transfer is a derivative of the trade agreement that enables U.S. and Mexican citizens to seek employment or get a transfer into an international company located in Canada.

      It allows them to get a work permit for specialized knowledge and executive or managerial capacity in international companies in Canada. The multi-national company has to have a parent, branch, or affiliate company in their country.

      The goal of intra-company transfer is to increase managerial performance, promote Canadian exports, and boost worldwide competitiveness.

      International Mobility Program

      The International Mobility Program (IMP) permits Canadian employers to employ skilled foreign nationals. IMP offers foreign nationals temporary entry into Canada as intra-company transferees.

      IMP is an alternative to the more technical and demanding Temporary Foreign Worker program. It offers a quicker and more straightforward application process to employ foreign workers without going through the requirements of the Labor Market Impact Assessment LMIA. Nevertheless, only International companies that are part of the LMIA exempt stream can take part in it.

      Eligibility Criteria for International Mobility Program

      The following are the eligibility criteria for International Mobility Program:

      • The employer must be a citizen of one of the countries in multilateral/bilateral agreements with Canada.
      • The employer or organization must be eligible for LMIA exempt.
      • The job offer must promote the economic and cultural interests of Canada.
      • The job must fulfill the LMIA exemption requirement.

      Labor Market Impact Assessment

      A Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is an approval that permits Canadian employers to hire foreign workers. The approval is in the form of a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

      Essential Requirements for Labor Market Impact Assessment

      Before employers can get approval to hire foreign workers or transfer employees, they have to satisfy the following requirements:

      • Post all available positions on the Canadian labor market for at least four weeks.
      • Demonstrate how foreign workers’ employment must positively impact the Canadian labor market.
      • Present evidence of unsuccessful recruitment techniques to hire qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
      • Pay the LMIA request and additional privilege fee.
      • Submit a transition plan to ESDC and an LMIA application for high-paying jobs.

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        NAFTA Intra Company Transferee


        NAFTA Intra-company transferees are foreign nationals seeking entry or employment by a multinational company in a NAFTA country to provide their expertise and services. They get temporary entry into Canada on the criteria of their specialized knowledge and managerial or executive capacity.

        Intra company transferees must have been employed in an American or Mexican enterprise with a qualifying relationship with an enterprise in Canada.

        A qualifying relationship is a business relationship between NAFTA participating countries – America, Mexico, and Canada. That means an enterprise from the NAFTA country has permanent residence and legal entity in another participating country. For example, an American or Mexican enterprise located in Canada and vice versa. These enterprises could be a parent, subsidiary, branch, or an affiliate foreign company.

        Intra Company Transferees Requirements

        Intra-company transferees must fulfill the following requirements:

        • Be a citizen of the U.S. or Mexico.
        • Be employed in an American or Mexican enterprise in a qualifying relationship (parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate) with a Canadian enterprise.
        • Have pre-arranged employment from the Canadian counterpart.
        • Have continuous employment in a similar position outside Canada for a minimum of 1 year within the three years preceding the initial application.
        • Have the ability and experience to work in an executive or managerial capacity or have specialized knowledge.
        • Present evidence of continuous full-time employment for a minimum of one year in an American or Mexican enterprise.
        • Meet the immigration requirements for temporary entry.

        Executive Capacity

        Intra company transferees in this category get a temporary transfer into Senior Executive positions at a company’s permanent and ongoing establishment in Canada. The establishment could be a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or parent company in Canada.

        Persons with executive capacity in foreign corporations are responsible for the following:

        • Controlling the operation of the organization or a key component of it.
        • Overseeing the management of the company or a significant part or function of the company.
        • Defining goals and policies for the organization or a division of it.
        • Making broad discretionary decision-making authority.
        • Getting only general supervision or direction from the organization’s board of directors, stockholders, or higher-level executives.

        Managerial Capacity

        Intra company transferees in this category get a temporary transfer into Managerial positions at a company’s permanent and ongoing establishment in Canada. Their objectives are to oversee the organization’s international business activities or a specific business division. They are typically in charge of carrying out the company’s policies.

        Persons with managerial capacity in a NAFTA intra-company are responsible for the following:

        • Managing a company or its divisions.
        • Overseeing and regulating the activities of other managers and professional staff.
        • Controlling an essential operation or function within the company or a section or department within the company.
        • Performing or recommending personnel actions such as hiring, promoting, authorizing leave, and terminating the appointment of employees.
        • Exercising senior-level performance within the organizational structure or in relation to the managed function, unless another worker is directly in charge.
        • Controlling the daily operations of the employee task or function.

        Specialized Knowledge Capacity

        Intra company transferees with specialized knowledge are exceptional and key personnel in the organization. Their expertise is crucial to their company’s success and longevity.

        They possess advanced and proprietary knowledge and expertise in critical areas of the home and international business activities. They do not need specialized training to perform their job role due to their unique business processes or methods of operation.

        Intra-company transferees constitute a small percentage of the organization. They are not easily accessible in the Canadian job market and transferable from foreign companies.

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          Requirements for Documentation

          The following requirements are necessary for documentation:

          • Present evidence of intra-company transfer from a company in the United States or Mexico to work for one of its parent, subsidiaries, branches, or affiliates.
          • Present evidence of a qualifying relationship between the Canadian and foreign enterprises making the transfer.
          • Prove continuous full-time employment in a similar role in a U.S. or Mexican enterprise for at least one year within the three years preceding the date of initial application. Evidence can be a signed contract or payroll.
          • Provide documents verifying professional experience in executive or managerial capacity, or one requiring specialized knowledge – position, role, job description, etc.
          • Provide evidence of specialized knowledge and how it relates to the position to be occupied in Canada.
          • Provide a document verifying the intended duration of stay.

          NAFTA Work Permit Application

          The following conditions are necessary for NAFTA work permits:

          • Be employed by a multinational company and seeking employment with one of its parent, subsidiaries, branches, or affiliates.
          • Have pre-arranged intra-company transfer to a company that has a qualifying relationship with the current employer. The job should be in a Canadian counterpart – a legitimate and active establishment of that company.
          • Have pre-arranged intra-company transfer into executive or senior managerial positions, or roles that require specialized knowledge.
          • Have full-time work experience in a similar job role in a foreign company doing the transfer.
          • Have a signed contract or job offer indicating temporary entry into Canada.
          • Meet all necessary immigration requirements for temporary entry.

          What Is the Duration of NAFTA Work Permit?

          The duration of intra-company transfer work permits depends on the job role. The minimum stay duration is 18 to 24 months. The maximum duration for executives and senior managers is seven years, while the duration for specialized knowledge workers is five years.

          Intra-company transferees must leave Canada after their work permit expires in a situation where a transferee wishes or needs to return to Canada, they must satisfy the requirement of one year of full-time employment in the company outside Canada before applying.

          Requirements for Foreign Companies to Transfer Employees

          The following are the requirements that foreign companies must satisfy to transfer employees

          • The company must have a current business location for its continuous legal entity to conduct operations requiring specialized knowledge.
          • The intra-company must present practical staffing strategies for the expanded activity.
          • The company must have the resources to launch operations in Canada and pay staff.
          • The firm must prove that it will be substantial enough to sustain executive or management functions before transferring employees.
          • The company must show that it operates as intended when transferring a knowledgeable specialist.

          How to Apply for Intra Company Transferees

          It is imperative to meet all requirements listed above before applying for a work permit. The steps to apply for intra-company work permits are:

          • Visit the IRCC website for essential entry requirements for a temporary visit.
          • Carry out all requirements – police certificate, medical exam, biometrics, etc.
          • Gather all required documents to prove eligibility for intra-company transfer.
          • Gather supporting travel documents for temporary visitors.
          • Apply for an intra-company transfer work permit.

          There are three routes for foreign nationals who are NAFTA intra-company transferees to apply for a work permit:

          1. The Canadian Port of Entry (POE).
          2. The Canadian visa office prior to entering Canada (online application or paper).

          The Canadian Port of Entry (POE)

          The Canadian immigration officials at the port of entry are responsible for processing NAFTA work permits. Applicants using the port of entry route will need to meet an officer. The officer will check for:

          • Proof of meeting all eligibility requirements.
          • Passport validity and other required travel documents.
          • Validity of the medical certificate (if required).

          The Canadian visa office prior to entering Canada

          Applicants applying through the visa office can do so online through the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website or visit a local Canadian visa office around them. Their employers must do the following before their application:

          • Submit their offer of employment to the visa office through the Employer Portal.
          • Send the offer of employment number to the applicant.
          • Pay the required employer compliance fee.

          How Can IAS Help?

          To get an Intra company transferee work permit to work in Canada in an executive or managerial capacity, or specialized knowledge capacity, you must meet the required conditions, eligibility requirements, and documentation.

          You may need the assistance of an immigration lawyer to understand the differences in provisions for entering Canada as a business visitor, business person, or intra-company transferee.

          IAS has a team of a reliable and experienced team of immigration attorneys. We provide our knowledge as seasoned immigration attorneys who are experts in all facets of immigration law.

          You can rely on an IAS immigration attorney to assist with your NAFTA work permit, prepare for Canadian or Mexican immigration officials’ inspection of signed contracts and other documents, and meet all mandatory requirements for successful completion.

          Through our application package, you can get any information on visas and immigration with our advisory services and make your application process smooth and stress-free.

          Call us on +1 844 290 6312 for immediate help and assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

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