What Is CUSMA?
Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is a trilateral Free Trade Agreement that replaced the previous NAFTA on July 1, 2020. CUSMA facilitates temporary entry for business persons who are citizens of these three countries and who are involved in the trade of goods or services or in investment activities.
Under CUSMA, business persons covered by the Agreement are exempt from the requirement to have a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
The Agreement covers the following four categories of business persons:
To enter Canada as a Business visitor under CUSMA, a citizen of United States or Mexico must be engaged in one of the following business activities:
- research and design;
- growth, manufacture, and production;
- after-sales service; and
- general service.
Requirements to qualify as a business visitor under CUSMA
- must be a citizen of the U.S. or Mexico;
- business activities must be international in scope;
- must have no intent to enter the Canadian labour market. Can demonstrate that by showing that:
- the primary source of remuneration remains outside Canada;
- the principal place of business remains outside Canada; and
must comply with existing immigration/admissibility requirements for temporary entry.
Professionals are American or Mexican business persons who enter Canada to provide pre-arranged professional services. Professionals under CUSMA can enter Canada as:
- a salaried employee of a Canadian enterprise,
- through a contract between the business person and a Canadian employer, or
- through a contract between the American or Mexican employer of the business person and a Canadian enterprise.
The CUSMA for Professionals covers 63 occupations. If a profession is not included in this list, it is not considered under the Professionals category of CUSMA. However, officers assessing applications also refer to National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes. This allows for alternative job titles to be considered if the job duties are interchangeable.
Intra-company transferees are managerial or executive-level employees in American or Mexican companies, or employees who have specialized knowledge and are being transferred to the Canadian enterprise, parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, to provide services in the same capacity.
To qualify as an intra-company transferee under CUSMA, a person must:
- Be a citizen of the U.S. or Mexico;
- Be seeking employment in an executive or managerial capacity or one involving “specialized knowledge”;
- Be transferring to an enterprise that has a qualifying relationship with the enterprise in which he or she is currently employed;
- The enterprises in the U.S. or Mexico and in Canada must have have a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate relationship;
- Have a continuous employment, in a similar position outside Canada, for at least one year (full-time) in the previous three-year period from the date of initial application; and
- Comply with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry.
Traders and Investors
Traders and investors carry on substantial trade in goods or services between the U.S. or Mexico and Canada or have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital in Canada. Traders and investors must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or one that involves essential skills.
Traders and investors are not subject to the LMIA process but require a work permit (R204, exemption codes T21 and T22, respectively) for which they must apply at a visa office before departing for Canada.
To qualify as a trader or investor under CUSMA:
- applicant must have American or Mexican citizenship;
- the employing enterprise must have American or Mexican nationality;
- activities must involve substantial trade in goods or services;
- trade shall be principally between either the U.S. or Mexico, and Canada;
- position must be supervisory or executive, or involve essential skills; and
- the applicant must comply with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry.