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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was replaced by the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement known as CUSMA. This revamped free trade agreement was signed on November 30, 2018. Under CUSMA, eligible nationals from the United States and Mexico can retain access to Canadian work permits with the terms remaining the same as under NAFTA.

Work Permits under the provisions of CUSMA are generally exempted from the Canadian labor market test, which is known as Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, exempted workers and employers must adhere to all the provisions associated with temporary work in the country if they are using the CUSMA program.

The application process for a CUSMA work permit is done at a border crossing or at the airport (referred to as Port of Entry). It can also be done at a Visa office or a portal relevant to the program.

The following categories of temporary workers are covered by CUSMA:

CUSMA Professionals

You must be eligible to work in any one of the sixty targeted professions. Depending on the profession, you may have to present your educational details and/or proof of work experience. As a CUSMA Professional, you must have a job matching your qualification with a pre-arranged employment in Canada. Those looking for self-employed work in Canada cannot qualify for this category.

CUSMA Intra-Company Transfers

In this category, you must be an individual who has been transferred by your company to a branch/subsidiary/affiliate of your organization in Canada on a temporary basis. You must also have served in a Mexico/US organization for at least one year in a similar position during the past three years. Importantly, you must be an employee of the company at the time of making the application. You must be working in the company in a managerial or executive position or must possess specialized/unique skills.

CUSMA Traders

If you are an eligible CUSMA trader, you must prove that you intend to carry out trade of goods or services in substantial quantity between your country of citizenship (The US or Mexico) and Canada. Here, substantial trade refers to more than 50 percent of the trade (on the basis of either value or volume) done between Canada and the US or Mexico.

It is mandatory that there should be a trade relationship between the foreign company and Canada. The employing company must also be of American or Mexican nationality. As a trader, you cannot just enter the country with the sole purpose of establishing your business in trading contracts or building your client base. You must be employed as an executive or a supervisor or involved in duties that require specialized skills.

CUSMA Investors

As a CUSMA Investor, you must prove that you have made significant investments in an existing or new Canadian business or are looking to enter Canada to develop a business or manage a Canadian business. In the CUSMA Investor category, work permits may be issued to the employees of the main investor. They must form a part of the company’s essential staff to qualify for the permit.

Many view CUSMA as NAFTA 2.0, and there are solid reasons for this belief. The general concepts of CUSMA and NAFTA are very similar. CUSMA was created using NAFTA as a reference point, and it has been continuing the work of NAFTA. However, there are significant differences between the two agreements, and there are several new additions to CUSMA. At 1500 pages, CUSMA documents more than double NAFTA’s page count of 741.

ASI Immigration is one of the top-rated immigration services operating in Canada. We help people understand the Canadian immigration rules and process better. If you are now sure how to make an application to enter Canada under CUSMA, contact us.

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