Getting a work permit through NAFTA

Last updated: November 30, 2018

image of a bridge connecting


The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, USMCA has not yet been ratified by the three member countries. It’s thought that the regulations that apply to hiring skilled American and Mexican employees will remain much the same, with over 60 professional occupations eligible for work permits under both NAFTA and the new USMCA.

Here’s what you need to know about NAFTA:

Relevant occupations:

  • Accountants
  • Computer systems analysts
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists


  • Citizen of USA or Mexico
  • Position matches a NAFTA occupation
  • The employee meets the minimum education and experience requirements for the occupation, as set out in NAFTA and the NOC description
  • The employee has a job offer from a Canadian employer for either a contract position or ongoing employment

Application process:

1.   The employer completes and submits the LMIA-exempt Offer of Employment in the Employer Portal, along with a payment of the $230 employer compliance fee. This will generate an Offer of Employment number, which is required for the work permit application.

2.   The employer and employee complete the NAFTA application package, which includes:

  • Employer letter outlining how the employee and position meet the requirements of NAFTA. The letter must reference the Offer of Employment number.
  • Signed offer letter
  • Copy of the employee’s:
    • Passport identification page
    • Relevant degrees/diplomas/certificates
    • Current resume
    • eMedical Information Sheet, if applicable

3.   The employee can submit the NAFTA Work Permit application in one of the following ways:

  • At a Canadian consulate
  • Online through a MyCIC account
  • In person at a Visa Application Centre
  • By mail directly to a Canadian consulate
  • At the place of entry (border or airport):
    • Mexican citizens must have an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to apply upon entry
    • Employees requiring a medical exam must have taken the exam four weeks before applying at the place of entry

4.   If the employee submits the work permit application at a Canadian consulate, online or by mail, they will be issued a work permit approval letter. The actual work permit document is issued upon entry to Canada. If the employee submits the work permit application at the place of entry, their application will be reviewed by the first available Immigration Officer; if the application is approved, the work permit is issued immediately.

Processing times:

  • Applications submitted to a consulate, online, in person or by mail will be processed in a time ranging from three weeks to three months.
  • Applications made at a border or airport upon entry into Canada are reviewed the same day.


  • $230 employer compliance fee
  • $155 work permit fee

Learn more:

NAFTA occupations and minimum requirements are found in section 3.8.