Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain
U.S. and Mexican citizen professionals can enter Canada to work.
Last month, Citizenship and Immigration Canada updated their
immigration manual to clarify that when an academic credential is
required for a NAFTA professional, that credential must be from a
"related educational program". Is your degree or diploma
If I need a degree or diploma to qualify as a NAFTA
professional, how do I prove it is "related"?
In many cases, NAFTA professionals need to have an educational
credential to qualify as a professional.
In this connection, reference should first be made to
Canada's National Occupational Classification (NOC) which is a
national reference for occupations in Canada. Virtually all
occupations are listed in the NOC and the NOC often will list the
educational requirements needed for a specific occupation. If your
educational credential matches with the educational credential
listed for your profession in the NOC, the greater the ability you
will have to argue that your credential is "related".
For some professions the NOC does not list specific educational
credentials. In many cases, this is because the name of the
professional degree varies depending on the educational
institution. For instance, an accountant can hold a Bachelor of
Commerce, a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of
Business Administration, or another degree. If the name on the
degree does not clearly communicate that the professional has a
related degree or diploma, the work permit application may be
Because of this, it is prudent to bring a transcript of records
from the academic institution to show the relationship between the
degree and the professional's work. Transcripts usually show
the person's major and minor and also list specific courses
related to the individual's profession. If the transcript is
not descriptive enough, it may be prudent to bring copies of course
syllabuses as well.
Do all NAFTA professions require a person to have a related
degree or diploma?
For some professions, the NAFTA specifies that an individual
must hold a specific degree and not merely a "related"
degree. For example, lawyers, dentists, physicians and
veterinarians must have specific degrees or state or provincial
licences to be qualified as a NAFTA professional. If these
professionals do not have the specified degree or a
state/provincial licence, they will not qualify. Other NAFTA
professions do not require degrees or diplomas at all.
What are the basic requirements for a NAFTA professional?
Regardless of the educational requirements for a profession
under the NAFTA, in order to qualify as a NAFTA professional, a
U.S. or Mexican citizen must be qualified to work in a profession
listed in the NAFTA. The professional must have pre-arranged
employment to offer professional level services to an entity in
Canada and the company hiring the foreign professional must meet
immigration requirements that apply to all employers of foreign
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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On May 6, 2013, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body issued its decision affirming an earlier panel ruling that Canada had violated its national treatment obligations by offering green energy incentives that included domestic content requirements in Ontario that favoured local suppliers.