|English: A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Logo. Español: Logotipo del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN). Français : Logo de Accord de libre-échange nord-américain (ALENA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Today more than ever, many Americans are looking beyond their own borders for jobs and lifestyles that suit their needs. Many need not look far – Canada, their neighbor to the north, is in need of skilled workers in a number of occupations. Those who choose to make the move are rewarded by a robust labour market and vibrant, multicultural society that welcomes both temporary and permanent residents.
Canada welcomes US professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the country’s key industries. Through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the country is able to bring in these professionals quickly and efficiently, benefitting US workers as well as the Canadian labour market as a whole.
The NAFTA Professional Program
The NAFTA is an agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the free exchange of goods and services across the countries’ borders. An important component of this free exchange is affording more freedom of movement to valuable temporary workers. In order to benefit from NAFTA’s work provisions, individuals must be citizens of one of the three member countries.
NAFTA covers three main immigration programs:
- Traders or Investors;
- Intra-Company Transferees
The NAFTA Professional program is perhaps the most popular of the three. It allows professionals in targeted fields who have received a job offer from a Canadian employer, or who are assigned by their US employers to work in Canada fulfilling a contract with a Canadian client, to enter the country and work for the specified employer or client on a temporary basis. The program identifiesover 60 targeted fields, including popular professions such as:
- Computer Systems Analysts;
- Dentists, Occupational Therapists, and Registered Nurses;
- College or University teachers;
- And many more.
NAFTA Professional Work Permits can be requested for up to 3 years at a time, and can be renewed if the job offer in Canada is extended. NAFTA Professionals may work for an employer located in any Canadian province, including the Province of Quebec.
Under most circumstances, Canadian employers must apply for and receive a positive Labor Market Opinion (LMO) before a work permit can be issued for their desired foreign employee. NAFTA Professional work permits are exempt from the requirement to secure an LMO, which means that a work permit can be obtained more quickly and with less effort on the part of the Canadian employer.
Who is the NAFTA Program Intended For?
The NAFTA Professional Program is intended for individuals who fulfill the following requirements:
- They are American or Mexican citizens;
- They have a job offer in Canada in a targeted field; or, they are employed by a US or Mexican company which has a contract to provide services in Canada and has assigned them to perform the work in Canada
- They meet the minimum education and/or experience requirements established for their profession
- Their job offer in Canada is temporary in nature.
In addition to specific program requirements, all temporary work applicants must pass Federal security and, in some cases, health screenings before being admitted to Canada.
Americans are particularly well-placed to benefit from the NAFTA program. Their language skills and understanding of North American work culture make them ideal candidates for work, while their familiarity with the North American lifestyle ensures that they will fit in well to their new communities in Canada. Thanks to NAFTA, making a move has never been easier.