How can I work in the US?
February 14, 2008 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I am a Canadian citizen who is earning the final credits of a degree online. In the meantime, I would like to take my stellar bartending skills on the road and reside in the U.S. I know the process is likely excruciating, but how can one do it?

I've heard of a great exodus of Canadians who work in the Carolinas every year and I've wondered how "unskilled" workers can get work visas in the U.S. Do I need to get a job first and then apply for the visa or is it feasible to apply for a visa without a job? Is there another way I haven't considered?
posted by scabrous to Travel & Transportation around Canada (6 answers total)
I've heard of a great exodus of Canadians who work in the Carolinas every year and I've wondered how "unskilled" workers can get work visas in the U.S.

I think you are answering your own question. Many Canadian seasonal workers are not working legally. They are entering as visa exempt tourists and getting jobs without permits.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:44 AM on February 14, 2008

The friends of mine who've done this, or similar, have most definitely not done it while holding a work visa.

And especially if you want to bartend, I can assure you most bar owners would be happier to pay you cash under the table (or just let you collect tips) than do ANY paperwork.
posted by smitt at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2008

Thirding the above. Bartending, in particular, seems like a profession ideally suited to this, since it seems to be a cash business that's tip-driven. Does anyone bartend for the salary, anyway?
posted by rokusan at 9:25 AM on February 14, 2008

Having seen this issue as an employer, it's always occurred to me how easy it would be for someone to fill out a Form W-9 with false information. I had to file payroll taxes quarterly, which would have given someone potentially over 3 months to work for me and be gone before any one might come asking questions. I don't recall any use of the W-9 except to file it in a drawer.
posted by crapmatic at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2008

I'm currently applying for a K1 visa to marry an American, and there are a few things you should know:

1. You can't work legally, as the above people said. Period. There is no way you'll be able to get a visa in the time allowed, and -- outside of NAFTA certified jobs, which bartending isn't -- the only way to get a work visa in the USA requires the employer to provide evidence that they require somebody with your rare and specific skills, AND (this is for Canada, but I think it works both ways) they have to have proof that they looked for such a person using reasonable normal channels and could not find an American willing to do the work.
So even if you find a place willing to hire for you and apply for the visa, it's highly doubtful that you'll get one, and it takes a year or more to process these dang things.

2. If you are in the States "just visitin'" and working under the table, there's a six-month limit to how long you can stay in the country without a work visa, green card, etc. I've never heard of anyone getting actually tracked down and kicked out of the country for exceeding that limit, but if you got pulled over for speeding, or whatever, you could get booted out of the country, AND this would have dire consequences if you ever want to get a legal visa in the USA.

3. Getting caught working without a visa is Very Bad News if you ever want to move to or work in the USA legally. Your employer could also get reamed by the IRS, etc. etc. if you were caught.

So... it's a dice roll. I'm sure 99% of my fellow Canucks that do it never run into any problems, but it's impossible legally, and if you do get caught for some freakish reason it can really screw up any plans you may have to go to the USA legitimately for a long, long time.
posted by Shepherd at 1:29 PM on February 14, 2008

it can really screw up any plans you may have to go to the USA

Now that our requirements for transit are the same as for entry, you may have trouble even changing planes in the U.S.
posted by oaf at 7:21 PM on February 17, 2008

« Older How to remove Sender header ("on behalf of") when...   |   Help me find a good website ripper/offline browser... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.