Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Procedures, Interview, and Appoval of your Canadian NAFTA work permit

As promised, here's the rest of what you need to know to get your NAFTA Professional Work Permit to work in Canada:


When you are inspected you should advise the CIC officer that you are making an in-person NAFTA professional application as one of the 63 designated professional fields.

If you are flying into Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, you will be inspected at the airport. If you are driving, you will be inspected at the border. (Some of the smaller border crossings do not have a NAFTA officer, so you may have to make your initial NAFTA professional entry at a different border crossing. Some border crossings will accept NAFTA applications only during designated times when a NAFTA officer is present.)

The inspection interview:

Whether you intend to enter by air or automobile, the CIC officer will ask questions about your purpose in coming and how long you intend to stay. Review the letter from your employer in advance and refer to the letter when you are speaking with the officer. As a Management Consultant, for example, you will want to stress that you are not actually engaging in day-to-day work activities or performing work regularly performed by your client’s employees, but instead are entering in connection with a consulting project which seeks to improve your client’s business strategies, administration, organization, and/or operations.

Answer all questions honestly. If you fail to cooperate in any way, or if your answers create uncertainty about whether you meet the NAFTA professional requirements, you may be delayed or even denied entry.

You will be asked about any history of criminal violations. This is routine. If you have a history of criminal violations, you should review this in advance with your employer.

Approval and duration of stay:

A U. S. citizen admitted to Canada under NAFTA will receive a work permit allowing the applicant to live and work in Canada for the period of time required by the employer, up to a maximum initial period of stay of one year. NAFTA professionals can receive extensions of stay in one-year increments. There is no outside limit on the total period of stay in the NAFTA professional category.

That's about it! If you want to discuss the process, leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

Good Luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

How to Prepare to get your Work Permit as a NAFTA Professional

As much as is involved in getting a NAFTA Professional Work Permit, when I undertook the process, I was glad that the company I contracted my services with was well prepared to make the process smooth for me.

I am sharing here a condensed fact sheet for those who want to know more about this process:

Eligibility requirements:

Under NAFTA, qualifying American professionals may be admitted to Canada to live and work temporarily in Canada. One of the principal advantages of entry under NAFTA as a professional is that, unlike many other employment-based temporary visa categories, NAFTA professionals need not petition CIC for visa approval in advance of entry. Instead, NAFTA professionals may apply in person at the time of entry at a Canadian Port of Entry. To enter Canada as a NAFTA professional, you must show the Canadian immigration officer:

  • You are a U.S. citizen

  • You will be employed in Canada in one of 63 designated professional fields

  • You possess the credentials required for your professional field

  • You understand that, in order to live and work in the Canada, you must maintain a valid immigration status, and you will depart Canada if for any reason your status should expire and you have not obtained another status allowing you to remain in Canada

What you should be prepared to present when you enter:

When you arrive at the Canadian Port of Entry, you must have with you and be prepared to present:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, passport, or a naturalization certificate)

  • A supporting letter from your employer

  • Copies your university degrees

  • A copy of your current resume

  • A copy of the contract or agreement between your employer and the company in Canada they have a contract with which should show the basic contractual arrangements between the parties; and

  • The $150 CAN application fee (cash, money orders and certified checks accepted; personal checks not accepted; credit cards may or may not be accepted)

Tomorrow: The Procedure at the border, the inspection interview, and details about the approval and duration of stay

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Working as a United States NAFTA Professional in Canada

So...have you ever wondered about the details of NAFTA? From our friends at Wikipedia:

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (Spanish: Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte [TLCAN], French: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain [ALENA]) is a trilateral trade bloc in North America created by the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The agreements were signed in December 8, 1993 by the leaders of the three countries — Brian Mulroney of Canada, Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico, and Bill Clinton of the United States [1] when Jean Chrétien was in office in Canada. In terms of combined purchasing power parity GDP of its members, as of 2007[update] the trade bloc is the largest in the world and second largest by nominal GDP comparison. It also is one of the most powerful, wide-reaching treaties in the world.

"...powerful and wide-reaching," eh? This is very true. But I never thought I would become a beneficiary of this agreement in a very personal way.

You see, I contracted my services as an independent consultant to a company that needed my talents on a project in the Canadian Oil Sands in Northern Alberta. As I was briefed on the project, I was introduced to the concept of working as a "NAFTA Professional" in Canada. My company did a great job preparing me for the process of becoming properly documented to legally work in Canada.

What I did discover, however, is that there is precious little information out there to prepare or even inform people considering this type of work. What I hope to lay out for readers of this blog are things to consider when preparing for this type of assignment.

Stay tuned!