Can Canadian Citizens Work in the US?

Updated on March 27, 2024

As a Canadian citizen, you may be wondering about your options for working in the United States. The good news is that there are several pathways available for Canadians to pursue employment opportunities in the U.S. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different ways you can work in the United States as a Canadian citizen and provide helpful information to guide you through the process.

30 Second Recap:

Canadian citizens have several options for working in the U.S., including the TN visa for NAFTA professionals, H-1B visa for specialty occupations, L-1 visa for intracompany transfers, E-1 and E-2 treaty trader/investor visas, and green cards through employment or family sponsorship. Each pathway has specific requirements and application processes. Understanding these options can help Canadian citizens pursue their career goals in the U.S.

NAFTA Professional (TN) Visa

One of the most popular options for Canadian professionals is the TN visa, which was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This visa allows qualified Canadian citizens to work in the U.S. in specific occupations, such as accountants, engineers, and scientists. To be eligible meet the following criteria: you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer and possess the required education and/or experience for your profession.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is another option for Canadian citizens with specialized skills and a job offer from a U.S. employer. This visa is typically used for occupations that require a bachelor’s degree or higher, such as IT professionals, doctors, and teachers. Keep in mind that there is an annual cap on H-1B visas, and the application process can be competitive.

L-1 Visa

If you work for a Canadian company with a U.S. subsidiary, affiliate, or branch, you may be eligible for an L-1 visa. This visa allows multinational companies to transfer executives, managers, and employees with specialized knowledge to their U.S. operations. To qualify, you must have worked for the Canadian company for at least one year within the three years preceding your U.S. transfer.

E-1 and E-2 Treaty Trader/Investor Visas

Canadian citizens may also be eligible for E-1 (Treaty Trader) or E-2 (Treaty Investor) visas if they engage in substantial trade with the U.S. or invest a significant amount of capital in a U.S. business. These visas are available to Canadians due to the bilateral trade agreement between Canada and the United States.

Green Card

For Canadian citizens who want to work in the U.S. permanently, obtaining a Green Card through employment or family sponsorship is an option. Employment-based Green Cards typically require a job offer from a U.S. employer and may involve a lengthy application process. Family-based Green Cards are available to Canadians with close U.S. citizen or permanent resident family members, such as spouses, parents, or siblings.

Tips for Applying to US Jobs as a Canadian Seeking TN Visa Status

When applying for jobs in the United States as a Canadian seeking TN visa status, there are several strategies you can employ to increase your chances of success. Here are some insights from those who have successfully navigated the process:

Physically Move to the US and Apply with a Local Address

One approach is to move to the US and stay with family or friends while applying for jobs. As one user shares, “I came down here on Sep 6th, stayed with her for about 2 months, applied for jobs using her address and my new American phone number, got interviewed but never brought up the TN issue by myself (opened to discuss it if the employer brought it up), got offered the job end of October, and my first day at work was Nov 8th in downtown Houston.”

Focus on Quantity and One-Click Applications

When applying for jobs, focusing on quantity can be beneficial. “I only applied through Indeed.com. I only searched for jobs which did not require me to go through long application process. I only focused on one-click applications,” explains one user who applied to around 700 jobs and secured 7 interviews.

Leverage Your Network

Leaning on your network can be a powerful way to bypass traditional hiring channels. “I found my first US job through a friend of a friend, who was able to bypass the HR/recruiting team and get my resume into the technical director’s hands,” shares one user.

Be Patient and Persistent

Patience and persistence are key when applying for US jobs as a Canadian. “You have to be patient, that is all. 9 employers out of 10 will not consider any visa situation whatsoever. Keep applying,” advises one user.

Consider an Internal Transfer

Many Canadians secure US jobs through internal transfers within their current company. “Most people are like me, we worked for an American entreprise in Canada and transfered to the US,” notes one user.

Reach Out to Others Who Have Successfully Obtained TN Status

Connecting with others who have successfully secured TN status can provide valuable insights. “So my advice would be to reach out to any Redditor that mentions working on TN and ask how they did it,” suggests one user.

Address Your Canadian Status in Your Cover Letter

Being upfront about your Canadian status in your cover letter can help set expectations. “I made a point in my cover letter to acknowledge that I was Canadian but was specifically looking in the US, and that I’d look forward to discussing how that would work with the employer at the interview,” shares one user.

By employing these strategies and being patient and persistent, you can increase your chances of securing a US job and obtaining TN visa status as a Canadian.

Final Thoughts

As a Canadian citizen, you have several options for working in the United States, depending on your qualifications, job offer, and long-term goals. Whether you pursue a work visa, such as the TN or H-1B, or explore permanent residency through a Green Card, it’s essential to research the requirements and application processes thoroughly. Consider consulting with an immigration attorney or qualified professional to help you navigate the complexities of U.S. immigration law and ensure that you choose the best path for your unique situation. With the right information and preparation, you can successfully embark on your U.S. employment journey.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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