Information for Canadian
Citizens About Working in the USA
Page 1 of 3
4 November 2008
U.S. immigration laws are very complex. This handout is meant to provide an overview of
some of the options available to Canadian citizens wishing to work in the U.S. In no way is this
intended to provide legal advice. For more information, please consult the links at the end of
this handout and/or legal counsel.
Main ways for Canadian citizens to work in the USA
1. TN status
Under the NAFTA treaty, citizens of Canada and Mexico with appropriate qualifications can
work in the U.S. under TN status in certain occupations such as: Economist; Lawyer; Librarian;
Management Consultant; Research Assistant; Social Worker; College/University Teacher;
Vocational Counsellor; Nutritionist; Occupational Therapist; Physiotherapist; Psychologist;
Registered Nurse; Biochemist; Biologist; and Chemist.
For a complete list of qualifying occupations, see
http://www.consular.canada.usembassy.gov/nafta_professions.asp . Qualifying individuals can
work in the U.S. in one-year increments, renewable indefinitely.
You must have a job offer from an American employer to be able to apply for this visa.
2. H-1B work visa
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS, formerly INS) has a yearly quota of 65,000
bachelor’s degree H-1B visas, with an additional 20,000 for advanced degree holders. The H1-B
work visa is available to foreign nationals in possession of at least a bachelor’s degree or its
equivalent, and who will be working a job requiring at least a bachelor’s degree.
The employer must submit the visa petition to the CIS.
This very popular work visa is quickly exhausted. However, there are alternatives to the H-1B
and some employers qualify for an exemption. Exempt organizations include:
• Non-profit organizations affiliated with universities, such as research facilities or
• Non-profit research organizations