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Visa and Citizenship

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With the dog days of summer almost behind us, fall brings the start of new jobs, schools, and many other opportunities.  For Canadians living in, or moving to, the United States, this also means exploring immigration options.

Working in the U.S.

The most common work visas for Canadians are the H-1B, TN and O-1:

The H-1B cap for this fiscal year was reached in just two months this fiscal year – the fastest since the recession in 2008.  This means that Canadians looking to apply for H-1B status will be unable to do so until April 2013 with the earliest start date of October 1, 2013.

For those in certain professional occupations, the TN visa is a great alternative: it is valid for up to three years, does not require the employer to pay the prevailing wage, and is easier to apply for than an H-1B.  Click here for a list of TN occupations:

Certain individuals of “extraordinary ability” may be eligible for an O-1 visa.  Most Canadians in the United States on O-1 visas are in the entertainment industry (i.e., actors, singers, models, etc.).  However, these visas may be granted to individuals in arts, athletics, science, business and education – so long as the individual is at the very top of his/her respective field.

For more information on Canadians in the U.S., please visit:

Marrying a U.S. Citizen

Marrying a U.S. citizen is one of the fastest ways to obtain permanent residency.  Unlike employment-based or family-based applications, a green card is immediately available to the Canadian spouse.  However, there are numerous logistical challenges which must be considered in the process, including minimizing of separation time between the spouses, the sponsor’s income requirements, demonstrating the legitimacy of the relationship, and the ensuring the ability of the Canadian citizen to work and travel abroad during the pendency of the application.

For more information on marrying a U.S. citizen, please visit:

Studying in the U.S.

Canadians enrolled in any U.S. post-secondary school will be in F-1 or M-1 (student) status.  Generally, students are not permitted to work while in F-1/M-1 status unless he/she obtains employment authorization (EAD) – most often through OPT or CPT.  Be sure to speak with your school’s International Student office about applying for work authorization.

For more information on studying in the U.S., please visit:


Cedric M. Shen is the principal attorney at Maximilian Law Inc., an immigration law firm which focuses on Canadians moving to the United States.  He can be reached at (310) 591-8200 or  More information can be found at

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