The new NAFTA: CUSMA (Canada United States Mexico Agreement)

14 July 2020

The new Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) entered into force on July 1, 2020.  In the United States, the agreement is referred to as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was created in 1994 between the United States, Mexico and Canada. NAFTA eased the flow of skilled workers between the three nations.

CUSMA continues the NAFTA provisions for work visas and for the cross border movement of business visitors. The retention of the work visa provisions is significant for workers in over 60 professional categories and for employers across the continent, who will continue to have access to skilled labour from all three countries.


  • Nothing has been changed in the language regarding work visas from NAFTA to CUSMA;
  • Professionals listed under NAFTA Chapter 16 have not changed and are able to travel and work on a NAFTA work permit or TN visa in any of the three countries;
  • The length of any work permit has not been changed. A permit/visa will be issued for up to 3 years and may be extended indefinitely;
  • CUSMA allows companies to avoid the time consuming and costly labour market opinion process to hire skilled workers from the United States and Mexico.


All elements of NAFTA relating to the travel of foreign workers across the region have not changed.  Businesses may continue to use the CUSMA to hire skilled American and Mexican workers and eligible Canadians are able to work in the United States under the USMCA.  From an immigration perspective, the only change will be the title of the agreement from NAFTA to CUSMA / USMCA.

Please contact a member of the Gowling WLG Immigration Group if you require any assistance regarding immigration or work permit matters. 

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.

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