Corporate Immigration across Borders May Slow Down If the U.S. Changes or Withdraws from NAFTA
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows cross-border mobility between Canada, the United States, and Mexico for business professionals. Often, a corporate immigration law firm is called upon to help with any cross-border issues that may arise.
Under NAFTA, business professionals may qualify for expedited temporary business immigration as either business visitors, intra-company transfers, or professionals.
But the future of NAFTA is uncertain, and this could affect cross-border mobility for many business professionals in North America.
Some commentators have voiced concerns that the work permit category for professionals might disappear if NAFTA is repealed or heavily altered. If this happens, thousands of people who rely on this work permit may be forced to uproot their lives. Significant changes to NAFTA could cause barriers for businesses who need to hire skilled professionals quickly to meet fast-growing industry demands.
In the U.S., labour mobility is closely related to immigration. With the Trump administration’s anti-immigration and “Hire American” stance, U.S. politicians see this cross-border mobility as allowing foreigners to come in and take jobs away from U.S. citizens.
If the U.S. withdraws from NAFTA, Canada and the U.S. may go back to their previous free trade agreement, which would remove about 20 occupations from an outdated list of professions eligible for work permits.
NAFTA Professional Work Permit
NAFTA has a list of 63 professions that qualify for the NAFTA professional work permit. This permit does not have a limit for the number of times a worker can renew their permit. And the foreign worker does not need to have pre-existing employment with a foreign affiliate of their Canadian employer.
However, the list of occupations is outdated. It was created when Internet use was growing, and many jobs that exist today, especially IT and digital jobs, did not exist back then.
For individuals with jobs not included on the outdated NAFTA list of occupations, entering Canada can be a challenge. And if NAFTA ends, the list may become more limited.
Uncertainty for Professionals
The end of NAFTA would make the future uncertain for Americans and Mexicans living and working in Canada as NAFTA professionals.
But there are still other options for those who wish to travel to Canada for work. These options include:
- Intra-Company Transfer;
- The Global Skills Strategy;
- The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); and
- Labour Market Impact Assessment.
For more information about NAFTA and its effect on business immigration, contact a corporate immigration law firm.