Can US Citizens Work in Canada?

Work in Canada as a US Citizen

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.

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.

  • Traders
  • Investors
  • Professionals
  • 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:

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:

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.

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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

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Al Parsai

This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.