Canadian Work Opportunities for Mexican and American Nationals through NAFTA

English: A North American Free Trade Agreement...
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)
The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, United States (US) and Mexico liberalizes and protects trade among these three countries. In meeting the trade objectives, NAFTA allows for the temporary entry of selected professionals and investors of American, Mexican and Canadian citizenship to work and engage in business across borders more freely than workers from other countries. It is a reciprocal agreement, and thus allows Mexican and US citizens to work in Canada and for Canadians to work in Mexico and the US.
If you are from Mexico or the US and have an interest in working, trading or investing in Canada, you may qualify under NAFTA for temporary entry or a temporary work permit. NAFTA provides great opportunities for Mexican and US professionals to temporarily work or do business in Canada with ease. It is important to understand each category and the requirements before assuming you qualify. What is outlined here is only a brief overview of the program. For more information, or contact your local Canadian consulate or embassy.
NAFTA is open to professionals that fall under four categories:
  • Intra-company transferees
  • Professionals
  • Business visitors
  • Investors and traders
Intra-Company Transferees (ICT)
This category is quite common between the US and Canada, especially among major American companies that have subsidiaries or branches in Canada. As an intra-company transferee, you can apply for a work permit without a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). In most cases when a Canadian company wants to hire a foreign national, it must apply for an LMO from Service Canada and demonstrate it cannot find a permanent resident or Canadian for the position. Service Canada then issues a positive LMO, which is submitted along with a work permit application by the foreign national. This can take weeks or months to obtain and a positive LMO is not guaranteed.
In addition, as an ICT, a work permit can be valid for up to 5 years for executives and senior managers, or 7 years for specialized knowledge workers. To qualify, the core requirements are:
  • Employment with US or Mexican company that has a branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate company in Canada,
  • Work for at least 1 year of the last 3 years with the foreign company,
  • Maintain an executive or senior management position, or be considered a specialized knowledge worker with essential and unique skills,
  • Hold an offer for a position with the Canadian branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate similar to the role in the related foreign company.
Canadian companies can be start-ups or expansions of a foreign company. These foreign companies send a senior or skilled person to help establish or expand the Canadian branch or subsidiary.
Professionals are those that have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian company and are in one of the 60 occupations listed under the NAFTA agreement, which includes accountants, architects, land surveyors, many science-related professions, and even post-secondary instructors. They do not require an LMO, but a work permit along with proof of education and experience in that field.
For a list of NAFTA professionals, visit the NAFTA Secretariat website.
Business Visitors
Business visitors come to Canada to conduct business with an international scope, involving activities like research and design, distribution, marketing and sales. Their business is predominantly outside of Canada and they have no intention to enter the Canadian labour market. As a result, they do not have to obtain a work permit, however they do need to declare their status as a business visitor upon entering Canada.
Traders can apply for a temporary work permit and work in Canada to facilitate the trade of goods and services between Canada and their home country. The initial work permit is granted for up to one year, but can be extended for a duration of two years.
Traders must be employed by a Mexican or US company in an executive or supervisor role, or have essential skills. Over 50% of total volume of trade by the company must be between Canada and the US or Mexico. Furthermore, the trading must be considered substantial. ‘Substantial Trade’ is determined by the volume and monetary value of the trade.
Investors can apply for a temporary work permit to come to Canada and invest, develop and direct an enterprise. The person seeking entry should usually be in an executive or supervisory role with the foreign company. While there here is no minimum dollar amount to invest, the investment must be considered  substantial. To determine if an investment is substantial, officers are directed to conduct a ‘proportionality test’, which is based on the amount invested vs. the total value of the company or the amount deemed necessary to establish the type of business. For example, an investment of $50,000 for a small business with few operating costs may be deemed substantial; or a $1 million investment for a plant valued at $8 million may qualify.
Like the trader category, the initial work permit is granted for up to one year, but can be extended for a duration of two years.
The advantages of working under NAFTA are:
  • Many professional workers are exempt from needing a LMO.
  • Business visitors are not required to apply for a work permit.
  • It allows for quick processing of professionals and intra-company transferees who need a work permit, since applicants can apply and be issued a work permit by an immigration officer at the Canadian border upon entering the count
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4 Year Maximum Working Rule for Temporary Workers in Canada

Canada (Photo credit: palindrome6996)
By: Jessica
He came to Canada from India on a work permit in May 2011 and has been working as assistance manager customer care. While trying to extend his work permit last year, he found that he can stay in Canada for only four years as temporary foreign workers and he will have to leave once he has completed four years work in Canada. The most worrying aspect of this 4 years working rule was that he can return to Canada only after waiting for four years.
Many temporary foreign workers may not know about this new 4 year working rule that restricts their stay in Canada to a maximum period of four years.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations:

Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations R200(3)(g) under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations establishes the maximum period of 4 years for foreign temporary workers which states:
(3) An officer shall not issue a work permit to a foreign national if
(g) the foreign national has worked in Canada for one or more periods totalling four years, unless
  • (i) a period of forty-eight months has elapsed since the day on which the foreign national accumulated four years of work in Canada,
  • (ii) the foreign national intends to perform work that would create or maintain significant social, cultural or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or
  • (iii) the foreign national intends to perform work pursuant to an international agreement between Canada and one or more countries, including an agreement concerning seasona lagricultural workers

All Work Counts:

The work performed by a foreign temporary worker since April 1, 2011 is counted towards the accumulated four year work. The work regardless of whether or not it was permitted by a work permit or exempt from work permit counts towards a temporary foreign worker’s 4-year total. Temporary foreign worker must include all the following work:
  • volunteer work,
  • a self-employed individual,
  • work in all occupations falling under all categories in the National Occupation Code (NOC) list,
  • work done while under implied status
  • work done while on an open work permit.


International students can exclude any work performed during a period in which they were authorized to study on a full-time basis in Canada.
Some situations in which there was a gap between employment such as time spent outside Canada, or maternity/paternity leave spent in Canada can be excluded from total work.
The restriction of 4-year accumulated work in Canada was introduced to encourage temporary foreign workers to explore options of Canadian permanent residency if they want to reside in Canada for prolonged periods.
Foreign temporary workers after living some time in Canada may have good English/French language skills, skilled work experience and ability to integrate in the Canadian society. They may take advantage of Canadian Experience Class for Canadian permanent residence after gaining 12 months of work experience and meeting other selection criteria.
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Five Common Immigration Mistakes You May Be Making

English: Passport Stamp issued by Immigration ...
English: Passport Stamp issued by Immigration Canada at Toronto Lester B. Pearson Airport. Category:Passport stamps of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Canada has over 60 immigration programs, each with its own unique set of criteria. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) makes every effort to create programs with requirements that are clear. Nevertheless, every year applications are returned or rejected due to mistakes made by applicants.
These mistakes are often made accidentally by the applicant. Sometimes, mistakes can be corrected and an application resubmitted. Other times, a mistake can result in serious repercussions and possibly mean the end of an individual’s chances for Canadian immigration.
Below are five mistakes that applicants for permanent residency, temporary work, and even visitor visas should look out for.
1) Inconsistencies in Personal and Educational History – Applications for permanent residency, as well as some applications for temporary residency, require individuals to list in detail their travel history, personal history, and/or educational history. There should be absolutely no gaps in this history. Unexplained periods of time, even as short as a week, must be accounted for.
How to avoid: Even short vacations should be noted on a travel history. For personal history, periods of time when you were unemployed should still be accounted for. You should double- and triple-check this part of your application to make sure that dates align properly. These dates should also correspond with supporting documents such as letters of reference.
2) Language Test Scores are Insufficient – Most Canadian permanent residency programs require proof of proficiency in either English or French. Proficiency is defined according to the Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) system.
Different standardized tests may be accepted for proof of language ability depending on the immigration program one is applying under. However, applicants must meet minimum CLB levels in all language abilities being evaluated for a program. These abilities include reading, writing, speaking, listening, or a combination of the four.
For instance, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the tests accepted as proof of English proficiency for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Applicants submitting IELTS scores must meet at least CLB level 7 in all four language abilities. This amounts to a score of 6.0 in each language ability. If even one ability is scored less than a 6.0, the applicant will be deemed ineligible for immigration through this program.
How to avoid: Double-check the language requirements for your specific program. Make sure that you meet or exceed the minimum levels in each language ability.
3) Listing Ineligible Dependents – For Canadian permanent residency applications, only spouses, common-law partners, and/or eligible biological or legally adopted children may be listed as dependents by the principal applicant. However, some applicants misunderstand this limitation and list other family members such as parents or siblings as dependents. These individuals may not be included on an application, and doing so may slow down and application’s processing time.
How to avoid: Make sure that only your eligible dependents are listed as dependents.
4) Employment Letters Do Not Comply with Requirements – Most programs require that work experience be proven by providing an employment letter. These letters, by current and/or previous employers, explain the kind of work an individual has performed on a day-to-day basis.
The following must be included in reference letters:
  • Position held
  • Hours
  • Salary and working conditions
  • Description of job duties
  • Employer’s signature
  • Printed on company letterhead
  • Company information such as address and contact information
If the above requirements are not met, an employment letter may not be recognized as proof of the applicant’s work experience.
How to avoid: Check your employment letters after receiving them. Providing an employer with a basic template outlining these requirements can also help.
5) Using an Unauthorized Representative – In order to minimize mistakes like those above, many individuals choose to hire a representative to assist them with their application. Representatives may be paid or unpaid, but if paid they must be a lawyer or immigration consultant authorized by the government to assist Canadian immigration applicants.
Unfortunately for applicants, there are many fraudsters claiming to be immigration representatives, when in fact they are not authorized to represent individuals. These phony representatives are not accountable to the government or a professional order, and will often request large sums of money for a ‘guaranteed’ visa.
Avoid this mistake: If looking for a representative, do not hesitate to ask for their professional credentials. An immigration lawyer must be registered with the law society in their province of residence and an immigration consultant by the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulation Council) .
In Conclusion
“With so many immigration programs currently subject to intake caps, it is of the utmost importance that applicants get it right the first time,” said Attorney David Cohen. “It would be a shame to see an application returned because of an avoidable mistake, only to then have the applicant become ineglible for immigration because their program cap has filled.”
The process of coming to Canada, whether as a visitor, worker, student, or permanent resident, can result in a life-changing opportunity for applicants and their families. Because of this, it is of the utmost importance that individuals complete their applications with care. With a little work and careful planning, they can make sure that their goals are not dashed by an easily avoidable mistake.
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Quebec Applications Outpacing Federal Applications

The Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program has received a surprisingly high number of applications since it introduced a cap on overall application intake. Since August 1, 2013, a total of almost 4,000 new QSW applications have been received by the Province of Quebec, out of an overall cap of 20,000. This outpaces the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, which has received just 3,100 applications in twice the amount of time.
Why is there an intake cap?
A number of Canadian immigration programs currently have application intake caps in place. By limiting the number of applications that will be accepted for processing, authorities can ensure that processing times remain low and no application backlogs are created. This is part of a broader push that the Canadian government has made in recent years to transition its immigration system to one that is “faster and more flexible”, thus serving the best interests of Canadians and potential immigrants alike.
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, which facilitates immigration to provinces outside of Quebec, has been subject to caps since 2008. However, this is the first year that the QSW has followed suit.
The FSW and QSW are two of the most popular Canadian immigration programs. The FSW program has, in the past year, greatly restricted its eligibility requirements. This includes limiting eligibility to workers with experience in just 24 occupations, as well as limiting application intake to 5,000 overall between May 4, 2013 and April 30, 2014. Because of these restrictions, immigration to Canada through the already popular QSW has in recent months seen an upswing in popularity.
Who is affected by the cap?
Applicants applying to the QSW program before March 31, 2014 will be subject to the cap. We do not know what will happen after that date.
At present, an applicant is eligible to apply to the QSW as long as he or she has at least high school level of education and achieves a sufficient number of points on a points grid specific to the program. The points grid assesses factors such as work experience, age, French and English language proficiency, and family information.
“The Quebec Skilled Worker system favours experienced workers as well as families,” said Attorney David Cohen. “The province is looking to bring in the next generation of talented, driven Quebecers. However, they want to make sure that all prospective immigrants are processed quickly and fairly. It is for this reason that the government has instituted an intake cap on the program.”
Advice for applicants – be proactive
Preparing and submitting an application to the QSW can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. While there is still time to submit an application before the cap closes, applicants should be aware that the 20,000 limit is steadily filling.
“We do not know what the Quebec Skilled Worker program will look like after March 31, 2014,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Therefore, applicants who are eligible today should make an effort to submit their applications as soon as possible. The Canadian immigration system rewards those who are organized and driven to succeed.”
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Healthcare Professionals – Options for Canadian Immigration

Canadian Provinces and Territories
Canadian Provinces and Territories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CIC News has, in the past, discussed the high demand for nurses in Canada, as well as their many options for immigration. In addition to nurses, Canada is looking for workers in a number of other healthcare fields. In fact, Canadian immigration programs across the country have been structured to specifically attract healthcare practitioners with a wide range of expertise.
This article is a brief overview of the many immigration options currently available for professionals in the field of healthcare services:
Canadian immigration options for medical occupations
Individuals with healthcare expertise are needed in virtually every province and town in Canada. This need is reflected by the abundance of immigration programs geared towards such professionals.
Because of the diversity of programs currently open to healthcare practitioners, successful applicants will have the option to apply to the program most suited to their strengths, and to settle anywhere in the country they choose.
The following programs are particularly favorable to healthcare workers:
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program – The FSW program is currently limited to 24 eligible occupations. Of these occupations, a full nine are related to the healthcare field. They are as follows:
  • Audiologists and speech-language pathologists;
  • Physiotherapists*;
  • Occupational therapists;
  • Medical laboratory technologists;
  • Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants;
  • Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists;
  • Medical radiation technologists;
  • Medical sonographers; and
  • Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists.
A maximum of 300 applications will be accepted in each eligible occupation. However, as of the time of print all occupations (*with the exception of physiotherapists) are still open and accepting applications.
The Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program – This program is open to all skilled workers and semi-skilled workers. In order to be eligible, individuals must score a minimum number of points on theprogram’s points grid. Applicants with educational backgrounds in healthcare are in luck, because many of these occupations receive very high points, thus boosting the application.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) – Most Canadian provinces and territories run their own PNPs. These programs allow individual provinces to nominate targeted candidates to the federal government for Canadian Permanent Residency. All PNPs have a stream focusing on skilled workers, under which many healthcare professionals may be considered. However, some have even gone so far as to dedicate specific streams to bringing in health professionals. These include:
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) – The Health Care Professional stream of the BC PNP was created to retain medical workers in the following fields:
  • Physicians;
  • Specialists;
  • Registered nurses;
  • Registered psychiatric nurses;
  • Nurse practitioners; and
  • Allied health professional s(such as: diagnostic medical sonographers, clinical pharmacists, medical laboratory techs, medical radiation techs, occupational therapists, physiotherapists)
  • Applicants to this program must have a job offer from a British Columbia-based employer.
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) – The SINP has similarly created a category for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Applicants must already be working full-time in the province for at least six months in order to be eligible.
Applying to a program
In addition to demonstrating their work experience, healthcare professionals must also meet other eligibility requirements. Depending on the program, this can include meeting minimum requirements for education, English or French language skills and personal funds. In addition, interested candidates should take special note of the following:
Licensing/Certification– Many, if not most, healthcare occupations are regulated in Canada. This means that before practicing in Canada, individuals must hold the necessary Canadian certification, licensing or authorization. Some immigration programs require that applicants already obtain, or be in the process of obtaining, the necessary certification before applying.
Educational verification – Many immigration programs require that applicants have their educational credentials assessed prior to submitting an application. Individuals should take care to make sure their foreign education is sufficient to practice in their desired occupation in Canada.
Organizations – Many health professions are governed by professional societies, organizations, or unions in Canada. Applicants should do research and learn how to become a member of these organizations, if necessary.
Once in Canada
Once a successful applicant has arrived in Canada, he or she may take advantage of the country’s world-class settlement services and robust job market. Though applicants must declare the province where they intend to initially land as immigrants, Canadian Permanent Residents may live and work anywhere in the country. This means that healthcare professionals have the luxury of finding the job and location that best suits them and their families, regardless of where this may be in Canada.
“Healthcare workers have gone through the processes of obtaining valuable skills,” said Attorney David Cohen. “In Canada, these skills are truly regarded in high esteem. This esteem is reflected in high salaries and workplace mobility, which is why our country continues to be a top choice for healthcare professionals from around the world.”
While salaries vary depending on the field and an individual’s experience, workers in Canada in general experience some of the highest wages in all G8 countries. Health professionals can often expect salaries of over $40-50 per hour, depending on their field and location in the country. Wages are only expected to rise in upcoming years, as current workers retire and the competition to attract younger professionals increases.
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