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How US Companies Can Hire Canadian Citizens

Canada and the United States share the longest undefended border in the world and have always had close economic ties. This close relationship has meant United States organizations sometimes look north when they need to hire workers.

When does it make sense for a company to hire Canadian citizens?

There are about 797,000 Canadians in the United States, and about 44% of them use employment-based immigration to apply for a green card. U.S. companies hiring in Canada is nothing new; an American company may wish to hire a Canadian to address labor shortages or to fill positions they cannot find local workers for. With the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it can also be easier to hire workers from Canada than employees from overseas.

Why Hire Canadian Workers, Specifically?

What Visa Categories Are Available, Under What Conditions?

If you need someone to work on-site or need to control a person’s hours of work, you cannot usually classify them as a contract worker. In these situations, you can hire a Canadian with the L-1 visa program, which allows companies to transfer professionals from a company office in another country to an office in America. The B-1 visa allows Canadians and other professionals to enter the United States temporarily to conduct tourism or business activities for up to six months but such individuals cannot be employed while in the US.

The TN visa program is the most popular option for companies hoping to hire Canadian workers for more than a few months at a time. If you need professionals for your business, the TN visa program allows you to hire Canadians with eligible qualifications to perform specific occupations for up to a 3 year renewal period.

What Is the TN-1 Visa Application Process?

TN-1 visa job categories include a list of qualifying professions. To hire a Canadian using the TN-1 visa program, you must be hiring for one of these positions, which include scientists, teachers and professors, and a host of professions generally requiring at least a college degree. Healthcare professionals, financial professionals, managers, and other Canadian professionals can enter the United States to work on a TN-1 visa, provided they have the job offer, qualifying education and licensing, and apply for non-immigrant status.

The TN-1 visa application process has two options for Canadians. They can apply for a visa or can enter the United States as a NAFTA professional without applying for a visa ahead of time. A Canadian citizen can present at a U.S. port-of-entry and apply for TN non-immigrant status without securing a visa at a US consulate beforehand. To do this, they will need to present a few items to border agents. These are:

Canadian professionals can also apply for a TN-1 visa by filing Form I-129 with USCIS, if they wish. Once approved, a TN-1 visa applicant can apply for admission at a designated CBP port of entry by presenting specific documentation. If a Canadian citizen lives in neither Canada nor the U.S. and hopes to enter the United States with their non-Canadian children or spouse, they will need a TN-1 visa to secure visas for these family members.

What Part of the Process Falls On Employers?

To hire Canadian workers, employers need to verify that the position they wish to fill requires a NAFTA worker and appears on the list of NAFTA qualifying professions. Employers then need to search for and screen qualified Canadian candidates. To qualify, Canadian applicants need to have the licenses or education listed on the NAFTA list and possess proof of such credentials for presentation at the port of entry or to USCIS.
Whether a Canadian citizen is entering the country by applying for a TN-1 visa ahead of time or is applying for non-immigrant status at a port of entry, employers should provide an offer letter, describing the work position, or a work agreement which the Canadian can use at the border to secure entry. An employer should provide documentation which clearly outlines the professional level responsibilities the visa applicant will perform in the United States, the length of employment, the education required, the education possessed by the employee, and the purpose of the employment.
If Canadian professionals want or need a visa before crossing the border, an employer can also file Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, with the USCIS. Your worker can then apply for entry into the United States with the Approval Notice from USCIS and proof of Canadian citizenship.

How Can Farmer Law Help?

Immigration law can be complex, even with NAFTA paving the way for some qualified professionals to enter the United States from Canada without a visa ahead of time. If you’re an American company hiring Canadian employees, Farmer Law PC can advise you on the visa program which may be right for you and can help you with the visa application process so you can focus on filling your open positions. Contact Farmer Law PC today for a consultation to discuss your hiring needs.

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