Moving to the USA
August 3, 2005 3:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm a Canadian looking to move (and work) in the USA. Not necessarily forever, but more than the three months a tourist visa allows. I've got a 2 year college degree and 8 yrs experience in IT. Where do I start to figure out how to do it?

There's so much info on the web, and it seems like half the websites are lawyers trying to sell me their special immigration service deals. I just want to know simply what I need to do, how much it will cost, timeframes, etc. Has anyone actually done this here? Bonus points if you're working as an independant consultant.
posted by blue_beetle to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Speaking only from a newbie HR perspective...

Occasionally, my company will sponsor (H1B visa) folks that we can't find locally. If you have 8 years in IT, you can search for a job with an organization, then get sponsorship. Though a lot of companies won't even look at you unless you're already eligible to work in the US. Additionally, as you know, a lot of IT companies (at least in the Seattle area) don't require a bachelors degree. So depending on your prior experience/skill set, if you're attractive enough to an employer, you can always throw that out. Good luck.
posted by Bear at 4:45 PM on August 3, 2005

If you search, you'll find people with direct experience posting in other immigration threads. I haven't done this and am not an immigration professional; I just picked up some of this secondhand while getting my Canadian bride through USCIS. So what I say you should take with much salt until better-informed people arrive.

Guessing, you'd probably want in as a NAFTA professional (TN status). It's an easy, cheap way. The way you'd normally do it is use "vacation" time to network and set up a job, so that you have the required offer of employment.

You'll have to be very careful about what your job description and formal duties are so that they clearly fall under the NAFTA professional guidelines. With only a 2-year degree instead of a BA/BS, you might well have problems satisfying USCIS that you're properly credentialed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:50 PM on August 3, 2005

Best answer: A TN1 visa is free trade's gift to Canucks looking for work in the US. It's better than an H1B by a long shot.

For an H1B you need to convince a company to sponsor you and take care of the paper work and six month wait, it's a big risk and most of them won't take it. Then you're tied to that company unless you can find another company willing to go through the same process. Bleh.

For a TN1 you go to the US to do your job interviews which you were smart enough to line up in advance, then when you find a company willing to hire you, you sign a contract with them. Then you go back to Canada for a day (or more) and then when you come back to the US border you request a TN1 visa. Best bet is at a land border that isn't too busy during normal business hours. You'll need to bring the contract with you, proof of your academic qualifications, and if it's a small company, a form of proof that they will be able to pay your salary for duration of the visa.

The critical parts are to make sure that your academic skills exactly match those required to obtain the visa, and that the job title and description exactly matches those available to visa holders. Best to check with a US consolate or embassy in advance, I think you can even apply for it there. If they approve it, they stamp your passport and you're good for two years, just like that. Others can talk of the risks that come with that.
posted by furtive at 6:27 PM on August 3, 2005

Here's the answer that I posted to a previous, similar question. To confirm what others have said, the TN category is your best bet, and also most appropriate for the "not necessarily forever" category of employment visas. Specifically, applying for a TN as a Computer Systems Analyst should work. Come to the US as a tourist, find a job, get hired, go to the border with a resume, college transcript, petition letter from your employer and $50 and you're good for a year. Repeat next year or mail a new application to BCIS three to four months in advance. Repeat ad infinitum or until you feel like going back home.
posted by bl1nk at 8:14 PM on August 3, 2005 [2 favorites]

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