How to come to Canada through CUSMA

Julia Hornstein
Published: August 23, 2022

Under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), citizens of the United States and Mexico can obtain a Canadian work permit. Work permits under CUSMA do not usually require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Despite this, workers and employers who use the CUSMA program must comply with all provisions governing temporary work in Canada.

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American and Mexican citizens do not require a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada, so applications for a CUSMA work permit can be done at any Port of Entry or at a Visa office.

There are four categories of temporary work covered under CUSMA:

  • CUSMA Professional
  • CUSMA Intra-Company transfer
  • CUSMA Traders
  • CUSMA Investors

CUSMA Professionals

A CUSMA Professional is an applicant who qualifies to work in one of approximately 60 targeted professions. They must have pre-arranged employment in Canada that matches their qualifications. Depending on the profession, an applicant may need to show proof of educational credentials or work experience in the field.

To be eligible under the CUSMA professional category, a person must:

  • Be a citizen of the US or Mexico;
  • Have a profession identified in the list below;
  • Be qualified to work in that profession (degree or certification in a related educational program);
  • Have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian employer;
  • Have provision of professional-level services in the field of qualification; and
  • Be in compliance with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry.

CUSMA Intra-company transfers

A CUSMA intra-company transfer is a worker transferring to Canada to work for a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of their US or Mexican employer who meet the ICT requirements. The transferee must have worked continuously for their U.S. 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 at the time of applying.

The transferee must have a managerial or executive role, or demonstrates specialized knowledge of the enterprise’s products, services, processes and procedures.

CUSMA Traders

A CUSMA trader is someone coming to Canada to carry out trade of goods or services between Canada and their country of citizenship, either the US or Mexico.

To be eligible under the CUSMA trader LMIA exemption, a businessperson must:

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

Furthermore, the principle business activities of the 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.

CUSMA Investors

A CUSMA Investors is someone who has made a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business and are coming to Canada to develop and direct the business. In order to be “developing and directing” the business, the investor must demonstrate that they have a controlling stake in the business.

Various factors are considered when determining whether an investor falls under this category, such as their title, their place within the company’s hierarchy, their job duties, etc. Usually, CUSMA investors do not partake in the business’s hands-on activities.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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