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Canadian working in the US. need help getting a visa.

  1. Jan 24, 2008 #1
    hey all
    well, I've got a contract job working for an engineering company here in canada. I'm between semesters of school.
    They want to send me to the US to do some work, the work will be of a technical nature. The problem i seem to be running into however, is that I don't have a degree yet. from what I've researched, it seems that to qualify for TN status or an H-1B visa, you need a degree in your field, or need proof that you have worked for a while and are an expert in your field. neither of which I am.
    I have emailed the canadian government already asking for advice and will email someone from the US shortly as well.
    Just wondering if anyone has done this before, or is knowelgable on the subject. (there are an awful lot of smart cookies here :D )
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2008 #2


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    If your company has a location in the US and wants to send you here temporarily to work, I don't see what the problem is, your company should be able to get you a temporary work visa, since you are their employee.

    Unless you mean that they just want you to go to the US on your own? I'm sure some people here are in the first scenario.
  4. Jan 24, 2008 #3
    Ask the company in the US where you will be sent. Perhaps they have experience in these matters.
  5. Jan 24, 2008 #4
    ah I should have explained better. We only do "field work" in the US. there is no office or home base which i can "transfer" too. it is only temorary work, lasts a month tops.
    that's where the problem lies, I believe.
  6. Jan 24, 2008 #5


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    The H1 visa is something the company you work for applies on your behalf. It has nothing to do with you having a degree or not, although that would help in their application that you have a skill that they require.

    If it is only a temporary work, and the company you're working for isn't a US company, then there is a different work permit that you need to apply. I don't understand why this is something that you have to handle, rather than the company that you are working for. They should know what needs to be done.

  7. Jan 24, 2008 #6


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    Does this mean that one is still employed by the company in Canada, which is doing work for a customer in the US.

    If you are receiving compensation in Canada, you are essentially working in Canada. I'm not sure an H1 or H1-B visa applies. AFAIK, Canadians can enter the US without a visa.

    Presumably one will be staying at a hotel for 1 month? Would one be commuting?

    Does the Canadian company have a history of sending personnel to the US? If so, how have they handled this in the past?
  8. Jan 24, 2008 #7
    alas, they do not. I'm working for them as a Co-op student, and am infact the first student ever hired in the company. I was forwarded a large email strain between the managers talking and conjecturing about my situation, and in the end, nobody knew what to do and I was told to figure out how it works for them.
    ah well, the bright side is I now have an exuse to be on PF at work :P

    any thoughts though, keep em coming, please and thanks
  9. Jan 24, 2008 #8
    yes I would be down somewhere probably in the lower states, staying at a hotel(s)

    and yes the company's main buisness is the work that I am to do in the states, all they're field personnel have TN status, something I can't get without a degree.
  10. Jan 24, 2008 #9
    Just claim you are defecting from Canada and ask for asylum.
  11. Jan 24, 2008 #10


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    You should consult an immigration lawyer preferably doing business in the U.S. Many law firms will not charge you for an initial consultation.
  12. Jan 24, 2008 #11


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    It's a business trip rather than 'working in the US'. When doing similar stuff from Ireland my colleagues and I travelled on simple tourist visas on the basis of we were visiting customers.
  13. Jan 24, 2008 #12


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    Physics is Phun, will you be paid by an American company or will you be paid by your company in Canada? That might make a difference (per Art's post).
  14. Jan 24, 2008 #13


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    If you are paid only by the Canadian firm, you should definitely look into the B1 Visa. Your employer will need to arrange for the visa, and the processing time could stretch to a few months.

    http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/business.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  15. Jan 24, 2008 #14


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    When I have done business overseas, I just got a temporary visa (if required), and simply did the work. I was paid by my company in the US, so there was no necessity of getting a work visa. In most countries, I don't need a visa. All I have to do is present a passport at the border, which I believe is the case for Canadians.

    Just check on visa requirements for an extended stay in the US. You may only need a passport.

    Many Canadians simply drive across the border into the northern states in the US.
  16. Jan 25, 2008 #15
    Ah yes, as I just realized, I am still considered a Full-time student because this is a Co-op job for me, I may qualify for a J-1 visa
    and I know I could probably just 'go' without any trouble at all, but my company wants to be all proper and legal and honest. and the law clearly says that a canadian can not work in th US without the appropriate visa. the B1 visa MIGHT do. but my company has had issues trying to get those in the past because we do more than just meetings and consulting while working in the states.

    and gah! a few months?! I want to go in like late feb/march!
  17. Jan 26, 2008 #16

    George Jones

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    I am Canadian who has worked in the the U.S. under both (not at the same time!) TN status and H-1B, but I had degrees at the time. Getting the H-1B took a few months, and my employer made the application. Getting TN status took less than an hour; you apply and get status as you cross the border.

    I went the H-1B route the first time because my job was in a U.S. territory (U.S. Virgin Islands) that opted out of free trade.

    As a student, my wife worked several times in Michigan at the General Motors Technical Center under J-1 visas. I think the procedure is the same as for TN status: apply for and get the visa as you cross the border. When my wife gets up, I'll ask her.
  18. Jan 26, 2008 #17


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    International Citizens
    Air Travel
    All international visitors regardless of country of origin must present a passport or secure document when entering the United States by air.

    Land/Sea Travel
    Canadian Citizens
    Beginning January 31, 2008, the United States will end the practice of accepting oral declarations of citizenship at the border.

    Canadian citizens ages 19 and older must present documentation that proves both identity and citizenship. Identification documents must include a photo, name and date of birth. View the complete list of acceptable documents at CBP.gov.

    I'm not sure a visa is necessary for Canadian Citizens.

    In the long term, look at the Visa Waiver program

    I readily found this - http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/visa_j1.html
    but it may not be necessary.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  19. Oct 20, 2009 #18
    I'm a little late to this conversation, but for anyone else looking for this info, I'll add my two cents.

    Canadians don't need a visa to visit the US. You DO need a work/business visa (or visa status) to do any work in the US.

    I'm currently in a very similar situation: I'm a Canadian coop student working for a Canadian company. The company is temporarily moving to the US for research/testing.

    My two options are: TN or B1.
    Canadians can get both instantly at the border on the way through. (instant means waiting for them to go over your documents and make a decision - compared to waiting months)

    TN would be for working for a US company, and requires lots of documentation to prove that you are qualified, and that the position requires a "NAFTA professional". As a student (ie:no degree) you would have to categorize yourself as a "Technician/Technologist" and prove you're qualified with resume, grade transcripts, and letters from previous employers stating your technical ability. You also have to prove its temporary.

    B1 would be for working for a Canadian company in US (ie: Compensation is provided from outside the US). For Canadians, technical work and research work (along with many other other non-related work types) is permitted under the B1 visa. This requires less documentation than the TN. You need to prove the work is temporary, and a letter from your employer stating a few things... (ie: is temporary, you're working for Canadian Company, the type of work you're doing, etc, ).

    I will be applying for a B1 at the airport on my way to California tomorrow morning!
    Still waiting for that letter from employer though...
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2009
  20. Oct 20, 2009 #19


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    You have to be a little careful about what you declare as work.
    Under a B1 (or visa waiver program), as long as you are being paid by the company outside the USA you can do almost anything on-site in the USA related to their business. You can develop, test and install equipement, train staff, attend sales meetings and conferences etc.

    Bizarrely you cannot be trained! The only way to enter America for a training course (even one on your own company's product at their own site) is for them to register as a university and get you an F1 student visa!
    Most people just ignore this - although I have heard of it being used in some heavily union plants, eg. you need a basic OSHA certification to go on the factory floor, you can only do the certification in the USA and you can't enter the USA on a business visa to attend training.

    Best bet is to look smart at the airport (really a suit gets you through immigration a lot faster than a back pack) have lots of documentation showing that you are at university and are being employed by a company. Explain it in terms of experience, training etc, state that you are not being paid in the USA, don't use the word 'work' (=furriners takin r' jobs). Probably also best if you have a return ticket straight back and don't plan on 'travelling' in the USA after the job.

    But basically it's all down to luck - you can have all the correct Visa paperwork in the world and still be turned back because the person on the desk doesn't like you. I have had that working at an IVY league US university after returning from an overseas field trip.

    It might also be worth using a land border and then flying internaly in the USA or an airport where you clear US immigration before departure (like Vancouver) where they do a lot more business trips to the USA rather than landing in some small US town.
  21. Oct 20, 2009 #20
    source: http://www.globaltransitinc.com/services.htm
  22. Oct 20, 2009 #21


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    But not according to the US authorities: http://www.usembassy.org.uk/cons_new/visa/niv/b1.html [Broken]
    It doesn't say anything not listed isn't necessarily not allowed but that's how the tend to interpret it - anything that's not specifically listed is banned.

    A fuller reprint of the immigration office manual: http://www.naftatnlawyer.com/permissible-b-1-visa-business-/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  23. Oct 20, 2009 #22


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    I remember years ago that you can just go over the border and go to work. The people at the border barely cared. I'm talking like atleast 15 years ago.

    Things are different now.
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