Can US Citizens Work in Canada?
James is an American accountant from North Dakota. Canada has recently grabbed his attention as a safe country. Consequently, James wonders if he could work in Canada as a US citizen. Of course, he relies on similarities between the two countries and his mastery of the English language. Needless to say, James is an educated professional.
Despite the cold climate, Canada is the tenth-largest economy in the world. As the second global landmass, Canada has a lot of room for growth. No wonder Canada is still receptive to immigrants and foreign workers. There is no doubt Canadians are close to Americans culturally and economically. However, the Government does not allow US citizens to work in Canada without meeting the eligibility requirements.
Table of contents
- A work permit is a must for US workers in Canada.
- CUSMA is an opportunity for US citizens to work in Canada
- Can a US citizen work in Canada as a business visitor?
- The International Mobility Program and US citizens
- Canadian open work permits for US citizens
- Working in Canada without a work permit
- Can I still work in Canada if I do not fall under any previous options?
- What if I do not have a job offer?
A work permit is a must for US workers in Canada.
Unless your job is exempt from a work permit, you must receive a permit to work in Canada. Unfortunately, this rule applies to US citizens just like other applicants. However, you may apply for a work permit at a port of entry. There are some exceptional cases in that you are better off if you apply before entering Canada. Consequently, consult with a professional before travelling to Canada.
CUSMA is an opportunity for US citizens to work in Canada
CUSMA, aka USMCA or NAFTA 2.0, is an economic treaty between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The main focus of CUSMA is the trade of goods and services between these countries. However, it also considers labour movements. As a result, you may work as a US citizen in Canada if one of the following CUSMA provisions applies to you.
- Intra-company transferees
Of course, the main benefit of CUSMA work permits is the LMIA exemption.
Working as an American trader in Canada
CUSMA defines an American Trader as a US citizen who intends to get a work permit under the following circumstances:
- They work for an American enterprise
- Trade is mainly between the US, Canada and Mexico
- Their activities focus on trade in services or goods
- The position is executive, supervisory or needs essential skills
Of course, the devil is in the details. For example, while you may apply at a port of entry, applying to a visa office is in your best interest.
Working as an American investor in Canada
If you are a US citizen, you may work as an investor in Canada under the following conditions:
- You work for an American enterprise
- The enterprise has made or is making a substantial investment in Canada
- Your role is solely to direct and develop the enterprise in Canada
- The position is executive, supervisory or needs essential skills
Of course, this is a simplified list. For example, you need to know what is a substantial investment or an essential-skills role.
Working as a professional American
If you are a US citizen, you may work as a professional in Canada under the following CUSMA criteria:
- Your job falls under one of the 63 CUSMA occupations
- You meet the educational credentials for the job
- A Canadian employer has offered you a valid job offer
Of course, just like the other CUSMA options, you need to meet the nitty-gritty of this work permit option.
Working as an American intra-company transferee
If you are a US citizen, you may work in Canada if your company decides to transfer you to their Canadian branch or subsidiary. However, you need to meet specific criteria. For example, your role must be an executive, senior managerial or specialized knowledge position. Of course, you may read the following article for more information:
Can a US citizen work in Canada as a business visitor?
Business visitors have the privilege of working in Canada under subsection 186(a) of the Immigration Regulations. Since this privilege covers all nationalities, US citizens are no exception. Nonetheless, if you need more information, read the following articles:
The International Mobility Program and US citizens
The International Mobility Program (IMP) paves the way to work in Canada without an LMIA. Of course, CUSMA falls under IMP. However, US citizens can enjoy many other great options under the IMP. Here are some examples:
- TV and film production
- Significant contributions to Canada
- Reciprocity (for artists only)
- Francophone mobility
- Self-employed people or entrepreneurs
This list is not comprehensive. Therefore, consult with a professional to explore your options.
Canadian open work permits for US citizens
Some US citizens could qualify for an open work permit in Canada. An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada. However, don’t get too excited. Unfortunately, the criteria for an open work permit are exceptionally tight. Consider reading the following article for more information.
Working in Canada without a work permit
As an American citizen, sometimes you qualify to work in Canada without a permit. For example, professional speakers may deliver speeches in Canada. However, the events they attend must be less than five days. Click here to see a list of work options in Canada without a permit.
Can I still work in Canada if I do not fall under any previous options?
If you do not meet the requirements of any previous options, you could still work in Canada. However,
- you need to receive a job offer from a Canadian employer, and
- Service Canada must issue a positive LMIA letter for the job.
What if I do not have a job offer?
If you are a US citizen who wants to work in Canada but you do not have a job offer, then visit the following pages:
- Job Search Websites – Canada Work Permit and Immigration
- Cold Calling for Job Search – A Canada Visa and Work Permit Perspective
Please fill out our assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada. We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licenced practitioner.
Would you please fill out our free assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada? We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal immigration advice from a licensed practitioner.
Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada
Fill our Free Canada Immigration Assessment Form in your language!
This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.
The characters and places in the articles:
All the characters and locations in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Therefore, any resemblance in names, dates, and places is coincidental.
For our official addresses, trust this website only. We currently do not have offices outside Canada. Therefore, anyone who claims to be our agent is committing fraud. Also, note that we do not issue any work permits or study permits or similar documents. The government of Canada has the sole authority to issue such material.