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Finding talent from the United States and Mexico exempt from LMIA, it’s possible and quick

The purpose of this article is to inform you about the provisions of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) relating to the temporary entry of businessmen and women.


To solve labor needs, it is possible thanks to this agreement to use pools of workers from the United States and Mexico. Three interesting advantages can be noted with these two countries: the quality of education, the geographical proximity and the most interesting, the possibility of a rapid process. Since 1994, the three countries have concluded the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has become on July 1, 2020 the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. Initially, the Agreement is oriented more towards investors, businessmen and woman


The main objective is to remove obstacles for the benefit of certain professionals for freer trade in goods and services within the three spaces. It is indeed clearly stipulated in the agreement that: “ CUSMA facilitates the temporary entry of businessmen and women who have American, Mexican or Canadian citizenship and who are engaged in the trade of goods or services or in investment activities”. Companies established in Canada can therefore take full advantage of the advantages offered by this agreement to meet their pressing need for qualified labour. It is indeed recognized that the concerned countries have effective education systems that ensure the quality and competence of the people who come from them.


It is important to note that in terms of facilitation, CUSMA offers two categories of exemption from the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). These are exemptions for: i) professionals and ii) intra-corporate transferees.


1. Professionals (R204 exemption code T23)


Sixty-three professions (https://consultantimmigration.ca/) in various fields are affected by this exemption. Each professional in one of the fields is authorized to come and provide his services in Canada if he is a national of the United States or Mexico. This means that Canadian companies can hire these professionals on behalf of their structures who, moreover, must hold a work permit.


Professionals who can be recruited in one of these countries must respect, among other conditions, the following requirements:

  • have US or Mexican citizenship;
  • practice one of the professions listed in Appendix 2 of CUSMA;
  • possess the qualifications required to practice the profession (diploma or certificate from a related study program);
  • have arranged employment with a Canadian employer;
  • provide professional-level services in the field in which the person has qualifications, as indicated in the appendix;
  • comply with existing immigration requirements governing temporary entry.


Officers must be confident that the employment is still “temporary” and that the applicant is not using CUSMA to circumvent normal immigration formalities.


How long is a work permit valid for a professional? Can it be extended?


A first work permit issued upon entry in Canada can be valid for a maximum period of three years. Extensions of up to three years may be granted, provided that the person concerned still meets the requirements for professionals. There is no limit to the number of extensions.


2. People who are transferring within a company (R204 exemption code T24)


Persons transferred within a company are employees of an American or Mexican company who occupy an executive or managerial position or a position that requires specialized knowledge and who are transferred to perform similar duties in the Canadian company or a parent company, a branch, subsidiary or affiliate in Canada.


A person transferring within a company is not required to obtain a LMIA, but must have a work permit (R204, exemption code T24). This exemption is quite beneficial to companies that are located in one of the other two countries.


The following requirements apply:

  • have US or Mexican citizenship;
  • hold a job as an executive or manager or a job that requires “specialized knowledge”;
  • be transferred to a company having a eligible relationship with the company in which they currently work;
  • the Canadian company must maintain a link with the American or Mexican company (parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliated company);
  • have been continuously employed in a similar position outside Canada for at least one year (full-time) in the three years preceding the date of the original application; and
  • comply with existing immigration requirements governing temporary entry.


How long is a work permit valid for intra-company transferees? Can it be extended?


The validity period of a work permit issued upon entry in Canada can be for a maximum of three years. However, persons authorized to enter Canada to establish an office or work in a new office should be issued an initial work permit for up to one year.


Extensions may be granted for periods of up to two years, provided that the person concerned still meets the requirements applicable to intra-company transferees.


In conclusion


LMIA waivers do not cancel the need to have work permits before coming to Canada. Our firm stands ready to become your partner in this process. Our experience and results speak for us.

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