Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a NAFTA Trader may obtain a Canadian work permit without first obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
A NAFTA Trader is defined as someone who has the intention and ability to engage in substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and their country of citizenship.
In order to fall under this exemption, the followings requirements must be met:
The NAFTA Trader must have either US or Mexican citizenship;
The employing company must also be of either American or Mexican nationality (a majority of the company must be owned by persons of American or Mexican citizenship);
The company’s business activities should involve the substantial trade of goods or services;
The trade is principally between either the U.S. or Mexico, and Canada; and
The trader must be employed as a supervisor or executive, or have duties that involve essential skills.
In order to be engaged in “substantial trade”, a NAFTA Trader’s company must demonstrate that over 50 percent of their international trade is done between Canada and their country of citizenship. This can either be determined through the value of the transactions, or the volume being traded. Additionally, a NAFTA Trader would not qualify for the exemption if they are seeking to establish new trade deals; their company must already be doing business in Canada.
In order for a NAFTA Trader to be considered a supervisor or executive, their primary tasks must be to direct, control, and guide employees. Several factors are taken into consideration when determining whether a Trader falls under this label, such as their title, their place within the company’s hierarchy, their job duties, etc. Generally, NAFTA Traders do not generally partake in the company’s hands-on activities.
A NAFTA Trader who is employed in a capacity that involves essential skills must demonstrate that his or her specific expertise is vital to the American or Mexican company, operating within the requirements set out above. Often times, it serves to demonstrate that the company was unable to locate a Canadian to perform the duties.
A NAFTA Trader may obtain a work permit valid for a one-year period, although he or she may be eligible to extend for a two-year period if the above criteria are still respected.