What are the next steps after receiving TN status?
March 15, 2012 2:58 PM   Subscribe

What are the next steps after receiving TN status?

Hi Mefites,

I received TN status last week as a Canadian working in the US. The status is for up to 12 months, but it's possible the job will end before that, we are still working out the details. I might try to get another position after this contract in the US, or return back to Canada, it's unclear.

I need some advice on what to do now. I have a SSN from a previous P-1 visa, so I'm assuming that's fine as is.

Banking: Is the next step to get a US bank account? Is there a recommendation for a Chicago bank? What should I do with my RBC account?

Health Insurance: I don't have health insurance at work, but am still riding on some travellers insurance I had purchased. Any advice about getting health insurance?

Taxes: What should I know about taxes? I am filing my Canadian taxes right now for 2011 and haven't worked in Canada since 2011.

Is there anything else I'm not thinking about? Forgive me if this question has already been asked, and if you think it has, please link me to the thread.

posted by gillianr to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I cannot advise on health insurance. I can advise on banking, taxes, and other.

Banking: yes you need a US bank account, otherwise you cannot receive direct deposit for your pay check. USD Canadian accounts don't work, as they do not have the correct routing numbers. Also apply for a US credit card right away. Be advised that banks most likely will not check your Canadian credit, so you will likely need to have a secured credit card. However, credit unions may be sympathetic to your cause and may check your Canadian credit, so shop around. I don't know Chicago so I can't recommend a local credit union.

Yes keep your RBC account. Advise RBC (and any other banker/brokerage account) of your new US address and have them mark you as a non-resident. Many people advise that you close all Canadian accounts to remove all ties to Canada. However, I recommend you keep your Canadian account. It is easier for you to regain your credit in Canada and also it is convenient to use Interac. Just tell your bank you moved to the US and transfer most of your $$$ to the States. You should move the money to (a) secure your credit card (b) avoid earning Canadian interest income and (c) to pay your bills. However, do not move your RRSP, TFSA, or any other tax sheltered accounts. Those should be fine until you get back.

Taxes: do nothing until end of 2012. If you earn only US income in 2012, your tax situation is very simple - you file only US tax. Your tax would be so simple, you could do it yourself in TurboTax. If you do earn Canadian income in 2012, you will need to file Canadian and US tax returns, and you might want to hire an accountant that specializes in cross-border issues. Cross that bridge if you get to it.

Other: take a copy of your I-94 and keep it in a safe place. You will need copies if/when you apply for a green card. Get a US driver's license. Think about what you want to do with your vehicle - exporting it to the USA is not bad but importing it back to Canada when you're done is a real bitch - it will cost you at least $500, if not more if you have to pay GST on import. Consider leasing a car in the US. If you have a Nexus pass, update Nexus with your new address and provide a copy of your I-94. Get an unlocked cell phone and Skype call forwarding so you can just swap SIMs at the border when going back and forth, otherwise you will bankrupt yourself on phone bills. If you have free cash and you haven't left for the States yet, consider leaving half your stuff at home and replacing it in the US for super cheap. Clothing, sheets, towels, etc should be purchased in USA early in your trip, used, and brought back to Canada on personal exemption. You should also be able to get away with this for laptop and phone. Everything from booze to dental floss should be purchased new as well, it is so cheap.

Vocabulary: it's called a "restroom", if you ask for iced tea it comes unsweetened, and nobody knows what a toque is. Everything else is self-explanatory.
posted by crazycanuck at 3:40 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your SSN should be the same. It should say on the card "not valid without work authorization" or something similar. You could verify it with the local office in Chicago when you get there.

RBC has a US subsidiary. They may not have branches in Chicago, but most things could probably be handled online. They probably still have a US dollar credit card if you want a CC but have no credit history in the US. TD used to have a US version as well, probably others. On there application it used to have spots for US and Canadian SSN/SIN numbers so they can check your Canadian credit history. You should be able to open a local account when you get there for payroll, etc. They will probably need to copy your SS card.

Taxes. You will pay US tax. Withholding if you are an employee and you will probably want an accountant if you are contracting. Each country has a criteria as to if you have tax liability and you should be able to find it yourself. For Canada it involves your income in the country, time spent, and if you had property and investments in Canada. The interest from a regular checking account generally shouldn't count as investments, but if you have retirement or property it may complicate it. This may affect you next year if you have income in both countries.

If you are deemed to pay taxes in both countries you will file in US on your US income, then the taxes you paid in the US will be considered a credit towards your Canadian liability. So if you paid 30% in US and Canada deemed you owed them 40%, you pay 10% to Canada.

I never did this but done coworkers claimed that the first year you move to the US you get certain tax breaks for relocating. Save all your receipts, and for the first year at least you should probably Get an accountant to do your taxes.

Some of my info may be outdated, so please verify.
posted by Yorrick at 3:51 PM on March 15, 2012

Oh, and the TN is only good for the job for which you applied. If you get a new job you need to reapply at the border for a new TN with an offer letter from the new company.

It's probably best to get a mailbox at a place like UPS store, not the post office. They will be able to forward your mail if you are moving back and forth.
posted by Yorrick at 4:01 PM on March 15, 2012

What crazycanuck said about "iced tea" being unsweetened is only true outside the South. In the South, "iced tea" is "sweet tea" by default, a sugary nectar of the gods designed to ward off the misery of humid summers.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 4:52 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I say this with absolute seriousness: familiarize yourself with what a TN status holder would need to do should they decide to marry a U.S. Citizen.

In my field of work, I interact with many Canadians, and a surprisingly high number of them have ended up marrying or applied for immigration for marriage with American citizens (with both good and difficult outcomes).
posted by Kruger5 at 5:23 PM on March 15, 2012

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