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NAFTA/USMCA Investor Work Permit

North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) investor work permits allow American or Mexican citizens to conduct business activities in Canada.

For any enquiries or further clarification on the NAFTA investor work permit, call us on +1 844 290 6312. Our expert immigration lawyers can walk you through the process when you reach us in person, via phone, or online.

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    What is NAFTA All About?

    NAFTA is an abbreviation for the North American Free Trade Agreement. The trade agreement came into existence on January 1st, 1994. It was, and still is, an effort to promote free trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.

    NAFTA removes all trade barriers, taxes, and tariffs, between the three participant countries. Under the trade agreement, citizens from the three nations can gain entry into any of the other two nations to trade or invest temporarily.

    An American or Mexican citizen in possession of a NAFTA work permit can travel to Canada regardless of whether or not they originally had a permit. However, if a permit is required, you may qualify for the NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer, NAFTA Professional, or the NAFTA Investor Work Permit.

    Prior to the signing of NAFTA, the United States and Canada signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA); however, NAFTA builds on this to ensure that Mexican citizens could benefit from the agreement.

    NAFTA was replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on July 1st, 2020. Sometimes, the USMCA is also referred to as NAFTA 2,0 or CUSMA. The USMCA may have replaced NAFTA, but it doesn’t affect the process and requirements regarding obtaining a work permit for use in Canada.

    Feel free to reach out to us on any of our online platforms or call us on +1 844 290 6312 if you have any enquiries or need advice on how to get a USMCA investor work permit.

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    What Qualifies as A Substantial Investment?

    You need to make a substantial investment in Canada to qualify for a NAFTA investor work permit. So, what exactly is a substantial or significant investment?

    The value of any investment is what determines if it is a substantial investment or not. You should know that there is no exact numerical figure for what qualifies for a substantial trade. Instead, immigration officers will determine if your investment is a substantial amount or not based on:

    • The total net value of the Canadian company that you are investing in or
    • The total amount that is usually needed to start or launch a sustainable Canadian business in that particular industry or sector.

    To help the Canadian immigration office assess your substantial investment, you will need to provide all the information regarding the investment, including details of the contract signed, how the funds were sources, the total investment, and any documents issued because of the investment.

    What Is an Investment?

    The Canadian immigration department has its own definition of an investment. Traditionally, investment refers to any spending of a substantial amount of money or capital assets on an enterprise or business venture. However, the rules are different for Canadian immigration.

    Your substantial investment only qualifies as an investment if the substantial amount invested is

    • Investment funds are held in a business account for the regular operations of the Canadian enterprise.
    • Commercial loan or mortgage debt is obtained using the investor’s assets taken for the Canadian enterprise.
    • Rent or lease payment for any equipment or property to be used for business purposes
    • Payment for inventory or business machines or equipment
    • Products or equipment being moved into Canada for commercial or trading purposes.

    What Are the Requirements for American & Mexican Citizens To Obtain a NAFTA Investor Work Permit?

    Any American or Mexican citizen who wants a NAFTA investor work permit has to meet the eligibility requirements listed below.

    • They should be an American citizen or a Mexican citizen
    • They must be wholly committed. This requirement means they must have invested in an existing or new Canadian enterprise without any chance of returning or removing the invested funds. Additionally, the investment must not be passive.
    • Their investment must qualify as a substantial investment
    • An American or Mexican citizen must own the Canadian enterprise. A minimum of 50% of the Canadian enterprise must belong to an American or Mexican citizen
    • As an employee, they must be an executive or at least be in a managerial or supervisory role.
    • Their entry into Canada must be to either grow or direct the Canadian enterprise that they have invested in and must hold at least a 50% stake in the company.
    • They must be willing and able to comply with all of Canada’s immigration rules for temporary entry, which requires that they
    • Have the intention to travel back to the United States or Mexico once their NAFTA investor work permit expires
    • Have enough funds to cater to their personal needs and necessities while they are living in Canada, alongside enough funds to facilitate their return trip
    • Do not have an existing criminal record
    • Do not pose any threat to Canada’s security
    • Are physically and mentally healthy

    Do you need help with your NAFTA Investor work permit application? Our team is happy to assist. Contact us

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      Can Employees Obtain a NAFTA Investor Work Permit?

      Yes, employees of the investing American or Mexican business can also be granted a NAFTA investor work permit as long they are employed in a role that requires essential skills.

      The eligibility criteria for employees to obtain a NAFTA investor work permit to enter Canada are:

      • The employer in the Canadian enterprises must be an American or Mexican citizen.
      • An investor status must have been granted to the employer.
      • In cases where the employer is a company, an American or Mexican citizen with an investor status must have majority ownership of the company.
      • The employee coming into Canada must also be an American or Mexican citizen.
      • The employee must be employed in an executive or supervisory position or possess essential skills critical to the day-to-day operations of the Canadian enterprise.
      • The employee must meet all the requirements for temporary entry into Canada.
      • The employee cannot have a permanent resident status in Canada. In cases where the employer is a business entity, the employee cannot have a permanent resident status granted by ownership.

      You should know that if the Canadian enterprise is just launching or starting out, the employee doesn’t need to have essential skills. However, the employee is usually only granted permission to stay in Canada for about one year. The Canadian Government views such immigration as only necessary for establishing the Canadian enterprise and training a Canadian to rake on that role within the year.

      How Do I Apply for The NAFTA Investor Work Permit?

      American citizens may apply at a visa office or at Point of Entry (POE). You will need to submit an application to the Canadian visa office in your home country to start the application process for a NAFTA Investor work permit. However, as the visa type is more complex than the usual visa application, it is recommended that you apply much earlier than the time you have to travel to Canada at a Canadian visa office in your home country.

      While making a substantial investment means you do not need to have an LMIA, you will have to apply for employment authorization and completer the IMM5321 form, formally known as the Application for Trader/Investor Status form. You can obtain these forms at any Canadian visa office and submit your filled copy at the visa centre. Investors must also submit the following documents;

      • Proof of Citizenship. This proof could be your certificate of citizenship given by your home country, America or Mexico.
      • Proof of the company or business’ nationality. This proof shows that an American or Mexican citizen owns the Canadian enterprise.
      •  Proof of investment
      • A valid Mexican or American passport

      All these documents will be subject to review by the Canadian immigration office while processing your application. You will be issued a NAFTA investor work permit in compliance with the International Free Trade Agreement for investors (R204, T22) for a maximum period of one year if your application is approved.

      Your work permit and approved status will also undergo review at the point of entry by a Canadian immigration officer. The officer will then determine if you can have a work permit and how long you will be allowed to stay in Canada.

      How Much Does the NAFTA Investor Work Permit Cost?

      The total cost for obtaining a NAFTA investor work permit is dependent on your personal circumstances and geographical location. Typically, temporary Canadian work permits go for about $155 per person. However, this cost may change if the application is for a group of people.

      You may also have to pay a different fee if you are providing biometric data. In this case, the cost of the NAFTA investor work permit varies based on your visa application centre.

      How Long Does It Take to Process an Application?

      The time it takes to process your application for a NAFTA investor work permit is dependent on the standard processing period of the Canadian visa office in your home country. The standard processing time for applications in the US is about five weeks, while the standard processing time for applications in Mexico is about 14 weeks.
      You should know that this waiting period may vary based on your unique circumstances. Also, this processing period does not account for how long it takes to send your application from the visa office to the immigration office and back, the time it takes to capture your biometrics, and Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

      If you have any questions about your NAFTA investor work permit, our team is happy to assist. Get in touch

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        Can I Apply for an Extension of my NAFTA Investor Work Permit?

        You can apply for an extension of your NAFTA investor work permit. Typically, investors that have invested a substantial amount in a Canadian enterprise are given permits that are only valid for a year. However, once the permit expires, investors may choose to request an extension for an additional two years as long as they still meet all the necessary requirements.

        If you choose to apply for your NAFTA investor work permit to be extended, the visa office will make a comparison of the details you provided in your first application and the information provided in your request for an extension.

        You should also keep in mind that if you gain employment in another job while Canada, or participate in activities that are not compliant with your work permits, then your investor status will expire, and you will lose your temporary entry into Canada.

        What Is Not Covered Under NAFTA 2.0?

        Typically, most immigrant and work visas will allow you to bring along members of your family or spouse into Canada. However, the NAFTA investor work permit does not cover dependents, meaning you cannot have your spouse or family members accompany you on your trip. If they have to gain temporary entry into Canada with you, they will have to apply for the correct permit in compliance with Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

        Permanent residents are also not allowed to make an application for a NAFTA work permit. They will have to wait to be granted American or Mexican citizenship before they can claim the benefits of the NAFTA program and gain temporary entry into Canada. You should also bear in mind that the NAFTA program does not in any way help with gaining permanent residence in any of the participating programs.

        Furthermore, while NAFTA can help with gaining temporary entry into Canada to conduct business, you will still have to meet all the certification and licensing requirements or provisions for admitting foreign employees into Canada.

        What Is A NAFTA Professionals Visa?

        A NAFTA professionals visa is an opportunity for professionals in certain fields to apply for a work permit in Canada. Professionals under this visa program do not need to obtain an LMIA before being allowed into Canada. However, the eligibility criteria for this visa differs significantly from the NAFTA investors work permit

        Professionals, as defined by the NAFTA program, refers to any American or Mexican citizen who has significant work experience in any of the occupations under the NAFTA Professionals List of Occupations.

        Some of the occupations on the NAFTA Professionals List of Occupations include accountants, architects, computer systems analysts, disaster relief insurance claim adjuster, economists, engineers, foresters, graphic designers, and hotel managers. Each of these occupations have minimum education requirements that you must meet to be considered a professional under the NAFTA program.

        Professionals seeking to enter Canada must prove their qualifications in their specific field either by presenting their certification or degree in that field to Canadian immigration. They must also provide proof of employment with the Canadian enterprise.

        For assistance with your NAFTA investor work permit application, get in touch with our team today. Contact Us

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          Will  NAFTA Investor Work Permit Help Me Get Canadian Citizenship?

          The NAFTA investor work permit only grants temporary entry into Canada for those willing to conduct business in Canada. It does not in any way influence your permanent residence in Canada.

          This permission is granted under the condition that they have invested in and hold a controlling interest in an American or Mexican business operating in Canada without the need to secure a positive LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment).

          Typically, foreign investors or companies trying to operate in Canada have to acquire an LMIA or Labour Market Opinion. The LMIA is a document that can only be obtained from the Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC). It rates if there is a positive or negative need for the investor or company in Canada.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    NAFTA investor work permits are typically issued to last on year. However, this period can be extended to up to three years, depending on your unique circumstances, and the circumstances of the Canadian enterprise you are working with.

                    An essential skill refers to any skill which plays a critical role in the regular operations of the company. Usually, you can only obtain these skills through advanced knowledge derived from experience and expertise in a particular field. The average skilled worker usually does not possess essential skills.

                    An executive position refers to any position within the Canadian enterprise that

                    • Coordinates the company’s management, or a critical aspect or function of the enterprise
                    • Designs and implements policies regarding the company or core function of the enterprise
                    • Sets goals for the company or critical areas that they are in charge of.
                    • Partakes in decision-making processes about the organization either as an individual or as part of a team of executives
                    • Is only subjected general guidance and supervision from other higher level executive positions, company stockholders, or the board of directors of the Canadian enterprise.

                    A supervisory position refers to any position within the company that is in charge of directing, controlling, and management of other employees of the business.  Typically, supervisors are not frequently engaged in hands-on tasks or activities within the company.

                    NAFTA investors work permit is typically issued to American or Mexican citizens that have made a substantial investment in a Canadian enterprise. Investors here may refer to a company or an individual.

                    However, a NAFTA professionals work permit is issued to professional workers that have considerable experience in any of the professions listed under the NAFTA Professionals List of Occupations and have been offered employment by an employer to practice in Canada.

                    Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have more questions and enquiries about how to apply for and obtain a NAFTA investor, intra-company transferee, professional status, or trader work permit. Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 for professional assistance.