Cross Border Movement of Business Persons
Temporary Entry into the United States and Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement
A Guide for Canadian Businesspersons
Published by International Trade Canada
4. Intra-Company Transferees
Intra-company Transferees are businesspersons employed by an enterprise to perform management or executive functions, or those which involve specialized knowledge, and are being transferred to an enterprise, parent branch, subsidiary or affiliated branch located in the United States or Mexico.
How do I qualify as a NAFTA Intra-company Transferee?
To qualify as a NAFTA Intra-company Transferee you must:
- be a Canadian citizen
- be in an executive or managerial capacity, or one involving specialized knowledge; in which case you must prove that you possess such knowledge and that it is required for your proposed employment
- have been engaged in a similar position within the enterprise for at least one out of the previous three years
- be transferring to an enterprise that has a clear relationship with the enterprise in which you are currently employed
- comply with the member country’s existing temporary entry immigration requirements
What documentation do I need at the border?
At a U.S. or Mexican port of entry, you must establish that you qualify as a NAFTA Intra-company Transferee.
You should carry with you Proof of Canadian Citizenship (ideally, your Canadian passport), a letter outlining the details of your transfer, and a job offer or contract for the position. This will assist in your inspection by U.S. or Mexican immigration officials.
The letter should include:
- a detailed description of the purpose and length of your stay as a transferee
- a detailed outline of your current job description, position title and place in the organizational structure of the enterprise
- a description of the position to which you will be transferring
- evidence that you have worked at least one year out of the previous three for the Canadian-based enterprise
- evidence of a qualifying relationship between the two enterprises (e.g. annual report, financial statements, articles of incorporation of the Canadian company and foreign affiliate, and so on)
How can I apply as an Intra-company Transferee?
An approved I-129 (Petition for Temporary Worker) is required before you will be admitted to the U.S. as an Intra-company Transferee. While you may submit this petition at the port of entry, it is strongly recommended that your U.S. employer submit the petition in advance of your entry. You may also be asked to provide supporting evidence that could delay your entry into the United States. NAFTA Intra-company Transferees are admitted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the L-1 classification.
Canadians entering the U.S. as Intra-company Transferees, who already have a valid I-94 (Record of Entry Document) do not have to present themselves to US Visit stations when entering the United States. The I-94 is only a record of entry/exit and is not an actual visa.
You should submit form i-129 and supporting documentation in advance to an immigration naturalization service center in the U.S., depending on where the work will be performed (i.e. Vermont service center, California service center, Nebraska service center, Texas service center). Addresses and areas of responsibility are available on the USCIS web site and are also listed at the end of the section below entitled “how can i change or renew my status?”
You should carry with you Proof of Canadian Citizenship (ideally, your Canadian passport) and FormI-129. In addition, a letter from your employer outlining the purpose and length of your stay will assist in your inspection by USCIS officials.
Remember that your affiliate company must continue to do business in Canada during your stay in the United States.
The L-1 is generally issued for three years (one year for a new company). It may be renewed for up to seven years for a person employed in an executive or managerial capacity, and up to five years for a person employed in a capacity requiring specialized knowledge.
Can I Enter the United States as a Business Owner?
If you currently own and operate a business, and are considering expanding into the United States, you can apply in advance as an Intra-company Transferee at the applicable U.S. embassy or consulate. (See VII. Additional Information).
When applying for L-1 status to open or to be employed in a new office, you should submit your petition well before your expected date of entry. You must provide a detailed business plan showing that you meet the qualifying criteria, and how your expansion will result in direct local employment. Before your L-1 status can be extended, a review is conducted one year after entry has been granted to determine if you have met the business plan’s objectives. You can reside temporarily in the U.S. in this classification for up to seven years.
How can I change or renew my status?
You should use form I-129 to apply for an extension or to change your status. Please keep in mind that there is a fee for this service and that applications take up to three months to process. You should remain in the U.S. while your application is being processed. Leaving the country at this time may negatively affect the successful completion of your application.
You should forward your application for renewal of Intra-company Transferee status to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over your place of residence:
- Immigration and Naturalization Service Texas Service Center, P.O. Box 850997, Mesquite, Texas 75185-0097
- Immigration and Naturalization Service California Service Center, P.O. Box 30080, Laguna Miguel, California 92607-0080
- Immigration and Naturalization Service Vermont Service Center, 75 Lower Weldon Street, St. Albans, Vermont 05479-0001
- Immigration and Naturalization Service Nebraska Service Center, Federal Building, Room B-26, 100 Centennial Mall, North Lincoln, Nebraska 68508-3898
You can find a detailed list of which service centre has jurisdiction over each state on the USCIS Web site.
How can I apply as an Intra-company Transferee?
To work in Mexico as an Intra-company Transferee, you will require an approved FM-3 FORM, which you can obtain from a Mexican embassy or consulate in Canada, from a National Migration Institute office within Mexico.
You can also enter Mexico with a Multiple Migratory Form (FMN), which you can obtain at no charge from most travel agencies and airlines or at a Mexican port of entry. The FM-3 form is not issued at Mexican ports of entry. The FMN form is valid for up to 30 days. However, before starting work in Mexico, you must obtain an FM-3 form.
When applying for an FM-3 you must demonstrate that you meet the qualifying criteria as a NAFTA Intra-company Transferee. FM-3 forms are valid for one year but you may request up to four extensions of one year each before you need to get a new form. Please keep in mind that there is a processing fee for this service.
When applying for an FM-3, the following information will be required:
- a letter in Spanish from the employer addressed to the immigration authority
- your passport (valid for at least six months from the date of application)
- two recent passport-size photos (no eyeglasses)
- cash or a money order for the application fee
- a copy of your valid FMN, if the application is being made from within Mexico
The letter from the company in Mexico must contain your full name and address, request an FM-3 Visa, and refer to the attached documentation. In addition, it should explain the purpose of the trip, the arrangements for payment, and the location(s) of work within Mexico. Also, make sure that you provide the information required to demonstrate you meet the requirements of a NAFTA Intra-company Transferee as outlined in the above section, “What documentation do I need at the border?” If applying from Canada, you must forward four copies of each document. An immigration office must validate the visa within 45 days of your arrival in Mexico.
If you are seeking an initial stay of more than one year, you will require an FM-2 form. The Mexican employer must submit the application for an FM-2 directly to the Secretaría de Gobernación, the Secretariat of the Interior.
How can I change or renew my status?
If you wish to change your temporary residency status, you can apply in Mexico at a National Migration Institute office. If you are seeking an extension, you must make a declaration that there has been no change in the purpose or circumstances of your original entry.
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