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Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

The Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) aims at liberalizing trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada by abolishing tariffs and other trade barriers. It facilitates temporary entry of business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferee and traders & investors into Canada. It is applicable to citizens of the U.S., Mexico and Canada including citizens of the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico but excluding citizens of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Permanent residents of the three countries.

While a business visitor can enter Canada without the need of a work permit, other mentioned categories need a work permit without LMIA. A business visitor may seek entry for several visits related to a specific project, over a period of many weeks or months and a visitor record may be issued. They can qualify under 63 occupations that are international in scope and represent components of business cycle like research, marketing, sales, design, growth, after-sales service, distribution and general service. They must not intend to enter the Canadian labour force and the business’ primary source of business & remuneration must be outside Canada.


An intra-company transferee from U.S. or Mexico need to be in continuous employment for 1 out of recent 3 years by the foreign enterprise. They can enter Canada usually for 3 years but to open a new office, person should be issued a work permit for 1 year and then extendable for further 2 years subject to compliance. There is a cap for a total of seven years and in specialized knowledge for 5 years. The enterprise in U.S. or Mexico should have a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate relationship with the Canadian enterprise and the business should be operational both in Canada and business person's home country (U.S. or Mexico).  Factors considered for an intra-company application include premises of enterprise, investment committed, organizational structure, goods or services to be provided, ownership/control of enterprise and viability of American or Mexican operation. An applicant seeking to open a new office in Canada may also qualify as an intra-company transferee subject to the mentioned criteria.


Trader seeking entry into Canada must be a citizen of Mexico or U.S. and over 50% of all trade in Canada must be between Canada and Mexico or U.S. As an investor, they must have committed or are committing a substantial investment in Canada.The substantial investment in Canada is measured against a number of factors such as the total value of the enterprise, amount considered necessary to establish a viable enterprise etc. A prospective employer in Canada could be a citizen of U.S. or Mexico who is maintaining trader status in Canada OR if not residing in Mexico or U.S., then majority of ownership must be held by citizens of Mexico or U.S. A majority of ownership cannot be considered if owned by a Canadian Permanent Resident and U.S./Mexico citizen, for bringing in an employee as trader in Canada.


Professionals can enter Canada to provide pre-arranged professional services either as a salaried employee of a Canadian Enterprise OR through a contract between the Canadian employer and American or Mexican enterprise. A professional can enter for 3 years initially with an extension of further 3 years at a time with no limits.

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