Good options when travelling to the U.S. for work
Thursday, July 22, 2021 @ 8:34 AM | By Rosanna Berardi
So, if you need to enter the U.S. for work, what options do you have? For Canadians, there are several. The most common being the B-1 for business visitors, the TN for qualified professionals and the L-1 for intracompany transferees. Below is a general summary of these categories and how each can be used for employment purposes in the U.S.
The B-1 category is the simplest way to enter and allows individuals to cross the border to engage in business activities of a commercial or professional nature. It is important to note, however, that the B-1 category is not a work permit and generally cannot be utilized to engage in hands-on work. The types of activities that are permitted include, but are not limited to, attending business meetings, travelling to a business event or conference, settling an estate, negotiating a contract, or participating in a short-term training.
If you are looking to enter the U.S. for more than just a simple business visit, the TN category may be a good option. Contrary to the B-1, the TN is a work permit and allows individuals to provide professional, hands-on services. To qualify, an applicant must: (1) be a citizen of Canada; (2) have a job offer to provide professional services to a U.S. entity; (3) be entering to provide professional services in one of the 63 occupations listed in the regulations; and (4) possess the requisite qualifications for the occupation being sought (typically at least a bachelor’s degree).
Individuals can apply for a TN work permit right at the border with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If approved, applicants are generally granted work authorization for a maximum period of three years. The flexibility and relative simplicity of the TN category makes it a great option for Canadian professionals currently working or hoping to work in the U.S.
Another work permit that you can apply for right at the border is the L-1. The L-1 category can be utilized by multinational employers to transfer executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge employees from an office abroad to an affiliated office in the U.S. To qualify, it must be shown that the applicant has worked full time for the company abroad in a qualifying position for at least one year. In addition, it must also be shown that the employer is doing business, which is defined as the regular, systematic and continuous provision of goods or services in the U.S. and abroad. The employee must also be transferring to a U.S. office that is affiliated to the foreign company (e.g., parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch).
A major benefit of the L-1 category is that it allows employers to address staffing needs by transferring key members of its team to the U.S., as needed. Another perk is that the L-1 can also be used to expand business operations and establish a new office in the U.S. Again, there are specific criteria that must be met. Specifically, the employer must demonstrate that it has secured sufficient office space and that the intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the application approval date. A new office petition will only be approved for a one-year period, so it is important that employers are in a position to immediately ramp up operations following a successful application.
As border restrictions continue to ease, opportunities to work and cross the border should increase exponentially. This means it is increasingly important to plan upcoming business travel to the U.S. accordingly. As detailed above, the B-1, TN and L-1 categories are great immigration solutions for Canadian professionals and should be on the top of your list when evaluating your U.S. immigration options.
Rosanna Berardi is the managing partner of Berardi Immigration Law and the CEO of High Wire Woman, where she helps working women create a blueprint to live their lives in a simpler way and take back their most precious commodity: their time.
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