Moving to the U.S. from Canada? Fastest Option for 2023

Written by: Victor Pan
Last Updated by Rocío Somoza: February 6, 2023
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moving to usa from canada

When moving to USA from Canada, it is important to understand the different visa options available to you and the requirements and qualifications for each one. The H-1B, L-1, and TN visas are the most common types of visas for Canadian citizens moving to the U.S. Each one has its specific requirements and qualifications.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows Canadian citizens with specialized knowledge or skills to work in the U.S. for a specific employer. To qualify for this visa, you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer. Also, the job must require someone with specialized knowledge or skills. Additionally, you must have the qualifications and experience required for that job. The H-1B visa process can take several months. It is important to start the process as early as possible.

The L-1 visa is another non-immigrant visa that is designed for Canadian citizens who are transferring to a U.S. branch of their current employer. To qualify for this visa, you must have worked for the company for at least one year in the past three years. And you will be transferring to a position that is similar to the one you currently hold. The L-1 visa process is generally faster than the H-1B process and can be completed in as little as two weeks.

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TN Visas

The TN visa, also known as the NAFTA Professional visa, is a non-immigrant visa that allows Canadian citizens with specific qualifications and job offers in certain professions to work in the United States. The TN visa is available to citizens of Canada and Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

To qualify for the TN visa, Canadian citizens must have a job offer in a profession listed on the NAFTA professional list. This list includes 63 professions such as engineers, scientists, management consultants, and more. Additionally, they must meet the qualifications for that profession.

Some specific requirements for the TN visa include:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate.
  • A job offer letter from a U.S. employer, outlining the terms and conditions of the job and specifying that the job is on the NAFTA professional list.
  • Educational and/or professional qualifications that match the job offer, such as diplomas, degrees, or licenses.
  • Proof of experience in the relevant field, such as work history, references, or certifications.
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It’s important to note that the TN visa is intended for temporary work in the United States. And the initial period of stay is for three years. It can be renewed indefinitely in three-year increments, as long as the individual continues to meet the qualifications and requirements for the visa.

When applying for a TN visa, Canadian citizens must apply at a U.S. port of entry or a U.S. consulate. The process is generally faster than the H-1B or L-1 process and can be completed in as little as two weeks.

Some Exceptions for TN Visas

There are a few exceptions to this rule that may make an individual ineligible for the TN visa.

  • Criminal history: Canadian citizens who have committed a crime or have a criminal record may be found ineligible for a TN visa. This includes individuals who have been convicted of a crime, have pending criminal charges, or have a history of involvement in criminal activity. It’s important to note that even minor offenses can make an individual ineligible for a TN visa.
  • Immigration law violations: Canadian citizens who have violated immigration laws in the past, such as overstaying a previous visa or working in the U.S. without authorization, may be found ineligible for the TN visa. This also includes individuals who have been deported or removed from the United States in the past.
  • Inadmissibility: Canadian citizens who have been found inadmissible to the United States may be found ineligible for the TN visa. This includes individuals who have a communicable disease, have a history of drug abuse or addiction, or have been involved in human trafficking or terrorist activities.
  • Lack of qualifications: Canadian citizens who do not meet the qualifications for the profession they are applying for may be found ineligible for the TN visa. This includes individuals who do not have the necessary education, experience, or credentials required for the profession.
  • Previous denials or fraud: Canadian citizens who have been denied a previous TN visa application or have been found to have committed fraud or misrepresentation in a previous application may be found ineligible for the TN visa.

In summary, the TN visa is an excellent option for Canadian citizens who have job offers in certain professions and meet the qualifications for those professions.

Other Visas

Besides these visas, there are also EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-5, and E2 visas that Canadian applicants could use to immigrate to the U.S. The main difference between these categories is the level of skill or qualifications required for the job. As well as the amount of time it takes to process the application.

EB-1 Visa

This category is for foreign nationals who have extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. This category does not require a job offer or a labor certification from the Department of Labor.

EB-2 Visa

This category is for foreign nationals who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent, or who have exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. This category requires a job offer and a labor certification from the Department of Labor.

EB-3

This category is for foreign nationals who are skilled workers, professionals, or unskilled workers. This category requires a job offer and a labor certification from the Department of Labor.

EB-5 Visa

This category is for foreign nationals who make a significant investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States. This category requires a job offer and a labor certification from the Department of Labor.

Canadian citizens are eligible to apply for EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, and EB-5 visa categories. However, Canadian citizens are not required to go through the labor certification process; a TN visa under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) might be a better alternative for them.

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E-2 Visa

The E-2 visa, also known as the Treaty Investor Visa, is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals from treaty countries who wish to come to the United States to direct and develop their investment in a U.S. business. It provides a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs and business owners to expand their operations and drive economic growth in the United States.

To be eligible for the E-2 visa, the investor must be a national of a treaty country. It currently includes over 80 nations, and must make a substantial investment in a U.S. business. The investment must be substantial enough to ensure the success of the business and must be at risk of being lost in the event of the business failing. The investment must also be made with the intention of generating a profit.

The E-2 visa is a great option for entrepreneurs who wish to start a new business or invest in an existing one in the United States. With this visa, they can legally reside in the United States and actively manage their investment. Additionally, the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the E-2 visa holder are also eligible for dependent visas, allowing them to live and study in the United States.

The E-2 visa is renewable and does not have a set time limit, but it is subject to periodic review. The visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business remains operational and the investment continues to be substantial.

Pros and Cons for Each Category

H-1B Visa

Pros:

  • Allows Canadian citizens with specialized knowledge or skills to work in the U.S. for a specific employer.
  • There is no limit on the number of H-1B visas issued each year.
  • Spouses and children of H-1B holders are eligible for dependant visas.

Cons:

  • The H-1B visa process can take several months, and it is important to start the process as early as possible.
  • The employer must prove that the job requires someone with specialized knowledge or skills and that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position.
  • The H-1B visa is initially issued for 3 years but can be extended for up to 6 years.

L-1 Visa

Pros:

  • Allows Canadian citizens who are transferring to a U.S. branch of their current employer to work in the U.S.
  • The L-1 visa process is generally faster than the H-1B process and can be completed in as little as two weeks.
  • Spouses and children of L-1 holders are eligible for dependant visas.

Cons:

  • You must have worked for the company for at least one year in the past 3 years, and you will be transferring to a position that is similar to the one you currently hold.
  • The L-1 visa is initially issued for a period of 1-3 years, depending on the length of the foreign employment, but can be extended for up to 7 years.

TN Visa

Pros:

  • Allows Canadian citizens who are coming to the U.S. to work in certain professions that are listed on the NAFTA professional list, such as engineers, scientists, and management consultants.
  • The TN visa process is generally faster than the H-1B or L-1 process and can be completed in as little as 2weeks.
  • Spouses and children of TN holders are eligible for dependant visas.

Cons:

  • The TN visa is intended for temporary work in the United States, and the initial period of stay is for 3 years.
  • The individual must continuously meet the qualifications for the visa to renew it indefinitely in 3-year increments.
  • The list of professions that are eligible for the TN visa is limited, so it may not be suitable for everyone.

EB-1 Visa

Pros:

  • No labor certification is required, which can save time and money.
  • Priority processing is available, which can lead to a faster decision on the application.
  • There is no annual cap on the number of EB-1 visas issued, which means that there is no limit on the number of people who can apply.

Cons:

  • The standard for “extraordinary ability” is quite high and can be difficult to meet
  • There is a lot of documentation required to prove the applicant’s qualifications, which can be time-consuming and costly
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EB-2 Visa

Pros:

  • This category allows for both advanced degree holders and those with exceptional ability to apply.
  • Priority processing is available, which can lead to a faster decision on the application.

Cons:

  • The standard for “exceptional ability” is quite high and can be difficult to meet.
  • The labor certification process can be time-consuming and costly.
  • There is an annual cap on the number of EB-2 visas issued, which means that there is a limit on the number of people who can apply.

EB-3 Visa

Pros:

  • This category allows for skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers to apply.
  • Priority processing is available, which can lead to a faster decision on the application.

Cons:

  • The labor certification process can be time-consuming and costly.
  • There is an annual cap on the number of EB-3 visas issued, which means that there is a limit on the number of people who can apply.

EB-5 Visa

Pros:

  • This category allows foreign nationals who make a significant investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States to apply.
  • Priority processing is available, which can lead to a faster decision on the application.

Cons:

  • The standard for “significant investment” is quite high and can be difficult to meet.
  • The labor certification process can be time-consuming and costly.
  • There is an annual cap on the number of EB-5 visas issued, which means that there is a limit on the number of people who can apply.

Conclusion

Moving to the United States from Canada can be a complex and time-consuming process, but by understanding the visa options available to you and the requirements and qualifications for each one, you can make the transition as smooth and efficient as possible.