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Canadian Citizens Working in the US: What You Need To Know

Wondering what it takes for Canadian citizens to work in the US? Don’t despair! Canadians have several advantages when obtaining work permits. For example, there are specific work visas for Canadians that are not available to other foreign nationals.

What are the common types of visas available for a Canadian working in the US? Read on for the answer to this question.

Can a Canadian Citizen Work in the US?

A picture of a Canadian woman working in the United States

Yes, Canadians can work in the USA. But only with the proper work authorization. Just like anyone else, Canadian citizens seeking employment in the United States must obtain work visas.

Types of Visas for Canadian Citizens Working in the US

The immigration visa options for Canadian citizens in the US are many, but the most common ones are: 

  • TN Visa
  • H-1B Visa
  • L-1 Visa
  • E-2 Visa
  • O1 Visa

TN Visa

The TN visa is available to Canadian (and Mexican) professionals, allowing them to work in the US in certain professions under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Thanks to its minimal eligibility requirements, the TN visa is one of the fastest and easiest US work visas Canadians can obtain.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is a non-immigration visa available for individuals who will perform services in specialty jobs in the US. The H-1B visa is for three years, with a one-year renewal for a total of six years.

L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa is an intracompany transfer visa. It is available to Canadian citizens whose Canadian employers are transferring to work at a US branch/ office.

The L-1 visa’s initial approval is for three years and renewable twice for two years, for a combined tally of seven years.

E-2 Visa

The E-2 visa is an investor visa available to individuals who make a substantial investment in the US. The individual must be coming to the US to develop and direct the enterprise’s operations. The E-2 visa’s initial approval is for five years with unlimited renewals.

O1 Visa

O1 Visa is a temporary visa available to individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. The O-1 visa’s initial approval is for three years.

How to Obtain a Work Visa as a Canadian Citizen

An image of an approved US visa application

Thanks to the relative ease of obtaining the TN visa, it is very popular among Canadian citizens working in the US.

Canadian citizens can quickly obtain a TN visa at the Port of Entry when they first enter the United States.

Documents required when applying for a TN Visa

When applying for the TN visa for Canadians at a legal Port of Entry, an individual must submit the following documents:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • A letter from an employer in the United States describing the job position (including job title and summary of duties).
  • Documents showing the remuneration for the individual’s services.
  • Documents proving the individual’s credentials.
  • Proof that the employment will be temporary (not more than three years).
  • Payment of relevant entry fees (including Form 194 fee and filing fee).

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TN Visa Requirements

Since Canadians apply for TN visas at a US port of entry, it’s important to understand the visa requirements to know what to do to increase the chances of being approved.

The TN Visa requirements for a Canadian seeking work authorization in the US are:

  • The individual must be a citizen of Canada.
  • A US employer must have offered the individual a job.
  • The job must be in a field on the NAFTA list of approved professions 
  • The individual must qualify to work in the business activity
  • The job offer must be temporary.

TN Visa Application Process

Canadians seeking employment in the United States have two ways to apply for the TN Visa.

  • Apply at a US border crossing.
  • Apply by mail to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) office.

Applying at a US border crossing

The individual has to submit the TN Visa Application to the US Immigration Officer on duty at the Port of Entry when entering the US.

When applying for the TN visa at the Port of Entry, the Officer will conduct a quick interview to determine whether the individual and the job offer qualify for TN status. Adjudication happens there and then, and the adjudicating officer makes a decision right on the spot.

Applying by Mail to the USCIS office

The individual must fill the Form I-129 and mail it to the Vermont Service Center. The applicant must submit the Form I-129 along with the TN application letter and all supporting documents, similar to when applying at a Port of Entry.

How long the process takes depends on whether the individual uses standard or premium processing. For standard processing, applicants are advised to start the process 6 – 8 months before their anticipated start date. For premium processing, the advice is to start the process 45 days – 3 months before the anticipated start date.

TN Visa Cost

The cost of the TN Visa can be very high or low, depending on how you apply.

When applying at the Port of Entry, the TN visa is inexpensive, costing only $56 ($6 as Form 1-94 fee and $50 as the filing fee). When applying by Mail to the USCIS office, the TN visa is expensive, costing $460.

Can I Work in the US with a Canadian Passport?

A picture of a man with a Canada passport

A Canadian passport allows the holder to enter the US visa-free for up to six months. However, it does not bequeath work authorization. So, a Canadian citizen with a Canadian passport who wants to hold regular employment in the United States will need to apply for a work visa.

Canadian Passport Requirement for entering the United States

A Canadian passport valid for travel into the US only needs to be valid until the individual’s intended date of departure. This is unlike most other passports that are required to be valid for at least 6 months beyond the individual’s intended date of departure.

Role of a Canadian passport in working in the US

The Canadian passport is the main identification document for Canadian citizens travelling to the United States. It simplifies travel between Canada and the US, as it allows Canadian citizens to enter the US (without obtaining a visa) for stays of up to six months.

The main limitation of the Canadian passport is that it allows only short-term stays in the US (up to 6 months). Also, it does not include work authorization.

Tips for Canadian Citizens Working in the US

Canadian citizens seeking employment in the US should follow these tips:

Prepare for Employment

First and foremost, a Canadian citizen wanting to work in the US should get the necessary qualifications for a US job. After obtaining the necessary qualifications, the individual should apply for a US job and secure an offer.

Legal Preparations

The individual should get familiar with the various US work visas available. After confirming eligibility for a specific visa,  the person should gather all necessary documentation for the visa application and apply for the visa.

It’s best to seek the advice of consultants (like TNVisaExpert) who specialize in helping Canadian citizens obtain US work visas. These experts will provide guidance (on choosing the appropriate visa category, submitting the application, etc.). Lastly, individuals need to prepare for the visa interview.

Financial Preparations

Canadians wanting to work in the US should research the cost of living in the specific US city they plan to settle in. They should also monitor the exchange rate and understand how it will impact finances. Lastly, they should make a comprehensive budget and ensure their finances can carry them during the transition period.

Settling in the US

To settle in quickly, Canadians who come to the US for work should set up a US bank account, arrange temporary accommodations for the initial arrival, get familiar with local transportation options, and attend social networking events to meet new people.


While Canadian citizens can visit the US visa-free, they need a work visa to get regular employment in the US.

Different US work visas are available, but the most popular for Canadian citizens working in the US is the TN Visa, as it is very easy and fast to obtain.

Some people successfully navigate the visa application process on their own. However, seeking professional advice significantly improves the chances of visa approval. Book a consultation with TN Visa Experts and boost your chances of TN visa approval.

FAQ about Canadian Citizens Working in the US

Can a Canadian citizen work in the US without a visa?

Canadian citizens cannot legally work in the US without a work visa. While their passport allows them to travel to the US without a visa, they need a work visa to work in the US.

What are the most common visas for Canadian citizens in the US?

The most common work visas for Canadians in the US are TN visa, H-1B, L-1, O-1, and E-2.

Is it possible to work in the US while holding dual citizenship with Canada?

Yes, working in the US while holding dual citizenship with Canada is possible. This is because people with US and Canadian citizenship enjoy the rights and privileges of both nations, which include being able to live and work in either country for as long as they want.

How long does it take to process a work visa for a Canadian citizen in the US? 

How long it takes to process a work visa for a Canadian citizen in the US depends on the type of work visa. For example, decisions on the TN visa are on the spot, other visa types can take several months.

What are the tax implications for Canadian citizens working in the US?

Canadians whom the Canadian Revenue Agency establishes as Canadian residents must pay income tax on income earned anywhere in the world. People with non-resident status are liable to pay withholding tax on net income sourced in Canada.

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