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NAFTA 2.0: The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

 

Canada and the United States were able to agree on final terms regarding NAFTA 2.0 just hours before the midnight deadline on Sunday, September 30, 2018. The new agreement is repackaged with a new name, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA will remain trilateral, despite President Trump’s threats last month to exclude Canada from the agreement if Canada was unwilling to make concessions.

This new deal, emanating from President Trump’s campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA, could not come sooner. The three countries have been in intense negotiations for over a year, with all parties throwing punches in official statements and even less formal avenues, such as social media. The USMCA is to take effect only after going through the internal democratic processes of international treaties of each country. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will leave office on December 1, 2018, and it is in the best interest of all three countries to have USMCA pass internal muster so any newly elected Mexican Administration cannot undo the hard-earned progress made this year. The Trump Administration can now send the new deal to Congress, initiating the 60-day review period, in time for President Trump to sign the agreement before President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office. At least, that’s the expectation…

The new deal addresses numerous points of contention between the Trump and Trudeau camps, mainly, the increased American access to Canadian dairy markets, Canada’s insistence on the survival of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism, as well as provisions regarding wages and part origin for auto-manufacturing. The 34 chapter text of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was released early on Monday morning and can be found here: https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/united-states-mexico

All three heads of state have hailed the new agreement beneficial to their respective countries, while both the Mexican Peso and Canadian dollar have enjoyed an increase infused by the announcement of the new trilateral deal. However, some experts wonder whether Trump’s insistence on renegotiated terms was worth the resulting strain on the relationship between Canada and the United States, as well as the bad publicity on an international scale, considering they have been long-standing allies and each other’s top ranking trading partners respectively.

How will the new USMCA affect my NAFTA visa? Business as Usual.

Clients concerned about whether their employees will be able to continue working on their TN visa or NAFTA work permits in North America should fret not. This is an entirely valid concern, given there will be some uncertainty until USMCA kicks in officially, and this is entirely dependent on the ratification process in each of the three countries. Our mobility experts at CKR Law believe that any previously issued visas or work permits should not be canceled and that they should, in fact, remain valid until their expiry date. However, any subsequent permits (after their expiry date) will likely need to be obtained under the new USMCA legislation. For NAFTA applications at designated ports of entry and Consulates in the interim, this means business as usual, for immigration lawyers and their clients alike, until USMCA officially takes effect. This is estimated to be as late as January 1st, 2020. Look out for our updates on practice orders issued to Border Officials as well as policy guidelines issued from each country respective Immigration Ministers, as these will influence the treatment of NAFTA applications at the border.

Please stay tuned for updates about changes to NAFTA and the terms of the USMCA, and how these changes may affect global mobility and your company. If you have any questions, please contact Véronique Malka, CKR Law’s mobility expert and Co-Chair of the Global Mobility Group: vmalka@ckrlaw.com


CKR Law Canada: Entrepreneur/Investor Series

Canadian Province of the Month: Ontario

 

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, housing the National Capital Region of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Canada’s most populous city. Ottawa’s population is just under 1 million people, while the Great Toronto Area (GTA) has around 7 million inhabitants. There are many federal and policy related government jobs available in Ottawa. Toronto, on the other hand, is the corporate and otherwise metropolitan capital of Ontario. In fact, Microsoft is moving its Canadian headquarters downtown Toronto, set to open in 2020. For those interested in the FinTech and Blockchain markets, Waterloo, colloquially referred to as Silicon Valley North is about one hour outside of Toronto and the ‘corridor’ between both cities is booming with new startups.

Ontario uses an Expression of Interest (EOI) form, after which the province invites select applicants to apply. Ontario also ranks candidates by score in their selection pool. If your application is approved you will be required to sign a Performance Agreement outlining your commitments from your EOI and a temporary work permit support letter will be issued to you to assist you in applying to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). If you suitably perform your commitments from the Performance Agreement, the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP) may nominate you for Permanent Residence status (note: successful nominees have 6 months to apply for PR status once nominated). A nomination will also grant additional points to an applicant interested in permanent residence!

Your business partner must also meet the aforementioned criteria if you are applying together:

For your convenience, Ontario has created a self-assessment questionnaire to determine whether you personally meet the minimum eligibility criteria, available here. For additional information from the Program Guide, click here.


CAP FOR GRANDPARENTS SPONSORSHIP TO CANADA GOES UP AGAIN!

 

Good news for those interested in family reunification! The numbers of parents and grandparents that can be sponsored to live in Canada has just gone up again. The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced recently that Canada will increase the application cap for parents and grandparents to 20,000 (from 17,000 in 2018). Additional changes include an end to the randomized lottery system, which is being replaced with a first-come-first-served system. The applications will be processed in the order they are received from sponsors until the 20,000 cap is met for 2019.

Further, IRCC announced another round of invitations to potential sponsors who completed an “Interest to Sponsor” form in January of 2018. This form had to be completed online in January 2018 to notify Canada of an interest to sponsor a parent and/or grandparent. Canada selected the first round of sponsors from the list at the end of the submission period.

Starting in August 2018, IRCC will use the same randomized list to select additional potential sponsors, who will be given 60 calendar days to complete and submit their application. Only those that were randomly selected to submit an application for the second round will receive an e-mail.

Whether or not an individual is being sponsored for permanent residency, they can still apply for the parent and grandparent Super Visa if they have a child or grandchild in Canada. This allows them to stay in Canada as a visitor for an extended time (2 years instead of the usual 6 months for a regular visitor visa).

Organizing documentation for an elderly parent may be time-consuming. The IRCC will assess applications in 2019 in the order they are received, so get yours ready for the portal as soon as possible. If you are interested in sponsoring your parent or grandparent, CKR Law’s Global Mobility Co-Chair, Véronique Malka, can be reached at: vmalka@ckrlaw.com.

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