Before a foreign national can work in the United States, they have to hold the appropriate work visa. Canadians generally have an advantage in this regard because the US and Canada are both in the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) formerly the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), allowing easier entry for citizens of either country.
There are various types of visas that a Canadian citizen can get in order to be employed in the US. These are some of the most common:
TN Visa – Trade National
The TN visa is considered the quickest path to legally working in the US. In fact, Canadians may apply and get approved for this visa right at the border, just before they enter the states. An immigration officer can approve their application on the spot.
However, you must ensure that you meet the qualifications and requirements for the TN visa. Firstly, only certain occupations are eligible for this visa type. USMCA lists about 60 different eligible professions, including doctors, scientists, management consultants, college teachers, counselors, engineers, accountants, and graphic designers. (You can find the full list of TN visa jobs here.)
TN visa applicants must have a pre-arranged job position with a US employer, and must meet the specific educational and experience requirements of their profession. You will need to provide proof of these in the form of documents such as your job offer letter, job contract, and license to practice, if applicable.
The TN visa is valid for three years, so you must also show the immigration officer that you intend to depart the US after this period.
L1 Visa – Intra-Company Transferee
If you work for a company that has a US office, and your employer wishes to bring you into the US, they may petition to get you an L1 visa. To qualify for this visa type, you must be either an executive or managerial employee (L1A), or an employee with specialized knowledge (L1B). For either subtype, you will need to have worked at least one year in your Canadian office before you can be moved to the US.
H Visas – H1B, H1C, H2A, H2B, And H3 – Temporary Worker Visa
H visas are more commonly vied for by those who do not qualify for the TN visa or the L1 visa. The H1B visa is for foreigners in specialty occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. The H1C is for professional nurses. The H2 visas are for seasonal workers – H2A for agriculture, and H2B for non-agricultural workers. Lastly, the H3 visa is for foreigners who work as trainees in the US.
E Visas – E1 And E2 – Treaty Visas
If your work in the US involves trading or investing, an E visa may be appropriate for you. This visa type is available under the economic treaties between Canada and the US (as well as other countries). E1 visas are for foreigners conducting “substantial trade” in the US, while E2 visas are for investors with at least 50 percent ownership of a US business.
There are a handful of other visa types that allow working in the US as a Canadian. Most will simply opt for the TN visa as it is the easiest to get, but a different visa type may be more suitable for you. If you would like to know more, or if you have questions about your US work intentions, consult with us at Richards & Jurusik for experienced guidance. Call us today 716-970-4007