Free Trade Agreements

Canada has entered into several Free Trade Agreements (“FTA”) which allows citizens of certain countries located across globe the opportunity to obtain Canadian work permits without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”).  Canada’s FTAs cover regions such as North America, South and Central America, Europe, and East Asia/South Pacific.

FTA categories of work permits generally fall under the following categories:


Citizens of FTA countries with pre-arranged employment in Canada may qualify for a Professional’s work permit under the relevant FTA. In addition to arranged employment, most FTAs will have specified requirements for education and work experience. Some of qualifying professions include Management Consultants, Accountants, Computer Systems Analysts, Graphic Designers, Engineers, Pharmacists, Scientists and more.


Citizens of FTA countries who have made, or are in the process of making, a “substantial investment” in a business in Canada may obtain a work permit to develop or direct the business. Though the investment must be “substantial”, there is no specified minimum. As such, this category has been used in a variety of businesses ranging from consulting businesses to golf course developments.

We take clients through the process of identifying or refining their business concept, researching and preparing their business plan, then preparing the NAFTA Investor application to clearly set out the economic benefits that the proposed business will create. If an interview is required, we will also prepare our clients as to what to expect.


Like the Investor category, citizens of some FTA countries who are engaged in “substantial trade” in goods and services between Canada and their respective FTA country may obtain a work permit to develop and direct the Canadian business. We review our client’s business history to assess the likelihood of success under this category, prepare a Business Plan, then prepare the application and supporting documentation.

Intra-company Transferees

Intra-company Transferees are those who wish to transfer from their employer based in a FTA country to work at a Canadian affiliate or subsidiary. Applicants must have worked:

  • with an affiliate of the Canadian company in the FTA country for at least 1 year in the past 3 years
  • a position that was executive,  senior managerial, or required specialized knowledge; and
  • be transferred to Canada for a similar position.

Business Visitors

Individuals who meet the specified criteria for Business Visitor status in a FTA may not even require a work permit. In general:

  • they would be coming to Canada for short periods of time;
  • they would not attempt to enter the Canadian labour market;
  • their activities would be international in scope;
  • their primary source of remuneration would be outside of Canada; and
  • their employer’s principal place of business is outside of Canada.