Canadian Investors, Businesspersons and Professionals Have Advantage Under NAFTA

The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement provides immediate visa solutions for Canadian Businesses and Professionals. These visa solutions include Treaty Trader “E-1” visa, Treaty Investor “E-2” visa, Intracompany Transferee “L-1” visa and Professionals under NAFTA “TN” visas.

NAFTA has powerful mechanisms which allow Canadian Professionals, Businessmen and Investors are able to present their visa applications at a port of entry (whether at an airport or land port of entry), obtain visa status, enter the US to immediately engage into gainful employment all in one day.

It is hard to believe but the US Immigration regulations under NAFTA has a built-in mechanism for on-the-spot processing of visa applications at any participating port of entry. This mechanism is grossly underutilized as immigration practitioners forget that NAFTA allows the immediate processing of several key non-immigrant visa applications, a mechanism unavailable to nationals of any other country. For that purpose, Canadian Investors, businessmen and professionals certainly have an advantage. This blog article is intended to review three critical visa solutions which allow Canadians to enter the US on an expedited basis and to immediately resume their business or professional activities.

What is NAFTA?

NAFTA stands for The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. It is a treaty between the United States, Mexico and Canada. NAFTA is intended to ease trade between these three nations. It is one of the most expansive and powerful treaties on the planet with far-reaching implications in all aspects of trade. One of the most important components to this treaty is the ease of maneuverability of investors and professionals among the signatory countries. As will be seen below, NAFTA provides instant visa solutions for investors and professionals.

Instant NAFTA Visa for Canadian Investors (E-1 & E-2 visas)

US Immigration laws allow two types of nonimmigrant visas for traders and investors.

Traders are Canadians who will engage in substantial exchange of goods, services and/or technology between Canada and the US. Such traders must come to the US to direct and operate an enterprise that is engaged in such trade. Canadian Investors who wish to carry on such activities may receive treaty trader (“E-1” visa) by submitting a comprehensive application package at the port of entry showcasing their operation in the US and containing evidence of such planned substantial trade. The application forms along with all supporting evidence must be presented along with the filing fee at the port of entry. The port of entry officer will review the evidence, process the application for approval and issue the documentation evidencing the visa status.

Likewise, Canadian investors who wish to enter the US to invest into a commercial enterprise which will produce a product or service may also apply for their visa status at a participating port of entry and receive their visas the same day. The legal criteria for issuance of treaty investor (“E-2”) visa include that the investment meets the substantiality and marginality tests and it is a real active (not idle) commercial endeavor. As explained previously, the application package must be presented along with the filing fee, completed immigration forms and supporting documentation at a border port of entry or at the airport prior to landing in the US.

Instant NAFTA Visa for Canadian Company Transferees

Canadian professionals possessing specialized knowledge and executives who wish to be transferred to a US company that is a parent, subsidiary or one that is affiliated with a Canadian enterprise may also process their visa applications and conclude their immigration case in one day by using the NAFTA provisions. This visa category is known as Intracompany Transferee visa or L-1 visa. L-1 visas are two types: 1) L-1B for Canadian professionals possessing specialized knowledge; and 2) L-1A for Canadian Executives. One important legal criterion that cannot be missed is that the L-1A or L-1B applicant must had worked for at least one year within the three years prior to his/her admission to the US in the Canadian company. As with the previously explained visa solutions for traders and investors, Canadian Intracompany transferees who wish to enter the US on an expedited basis may do so by applying at the port of entry paying the filing fee and presenting the immigration forms with all of the documentation showing that applicant qualifies for such visa status.

A recent example of this expedited visa processing pursuant to NAFTA was processed by our firm recently. I was contacted last month by a major multinational company which had branches all over the world. The company provides replacement parts to specialty automobile items and caters to consumers at large. The company engaged in a vigorous advertisement campaign in the US which spiked demand for highly trained technicians. The spike demand required service to be provided to consumers on an expedited basis through a window of opportunity. There were not sufficient technicians in the US so the company turned to its affiliate company in Canada.

Our firm immediately gathered data and produced packages which included immigration forms, documentation supporting the existence of an “affiliate” relationship between the Canadian and the US companies, as well as the fact that the required technicians met the regulatory definition of workers “possessing specialized knowledge.” Within few days from being contacted the technicians arrived in the US and began to work immediately.

Instant NAFTA Visa for Canadian Professionals

Another huge advantage of NAFTA is the ability of certain professionals to obtain visa status within one day and join their employer in the US through a visa category known as TN visa. To qualify for the TN visa status, the Canadian professional must be sponsored by a US company who is willing to provide an engagement letter which will be presented at the port of entry accompanied by supporting documentation showing that the Canadian professional meets the regulatory criteria. One word of caution is that not every occupation qualifies for the issuance of TN visa status. The NAFTA treaty includes a detailed laundry list of specific occupational classifications which qualify for the TN visa status. The TN visa status is an efficient mechanism to allow US employers to employ Canadian professionals and be able to employ them on an expedited basis.


All the visa solutions explained in this article allow dependants to accompany the principle Canadian applicant into the US.

Contact An Experienced Lawyer before you Submit an Application Pursuant to NAFTA

Despite the expedited basis on which NAFTA visa applications are adjudicated and visa statuses are issued, Canadian professionals, businessmen and women along with investors are highly encouraged to seek the counsel of an immigration lawyer versed with NAFTA matters. The attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA are experienced in all matters relating to NAFTA visas. They have processed every type of visa mentioned herein on behalf of Canadians. Contact the experienced attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA at (800) 625-3404.