Canadians escape most of the impact of United States work visa bans

By: Staff

Although the Trump administration in June extended a ban on green cards issued outside of the United States until the end of the year, as well as banning non-immigrant visas for work authorization, the practical impact of this regulation on Canadians will be limited.

Most United States consulates in Canada have been closed since March and are only now starting to re-open for visa interviews in the next few months.

Furthermore, the most common work visas used by Canadian citizens attempting to work in the United States – the TN visa, the L visa, and the E1 or E2 visas – are based on treaties signed between the countries and cannot be abrogated by an executive order of the President.

The TN visa in particular is a fast and easy work permit created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA and its successor, USMCA) covering over forty different professional occupations. Th TN visa allows applicants and their employers to apply for the permit at United States Customs & Border Protection port of entry and receive immediate approval.

Likewise, the L1 visa for intracompany transferees is similarly unchanged by the Trump Administration order, as it too is protected by the free-trade agreement between the countries and allows Canadians who have worked in a senior management/executive or specialized knowledge role with the Canadian entity full-time for one year to transfer to the affiliated United States entity. This too can be applied for at the at United States Customs & Border Protection port of entry to receive immediate approval.

Finally, the E1 visa for treaty traders making significant commercial trade with the United States, as well as the E2 visa for the treaty investor making an investment of $100,000 or greater into an active business that they will manage, is also unaffected. The major difference on the E1 and E2 visa are that instead of applying at the port of entry they require an interview at the United States Consulate, which are now re-opening and scheduling appointments after being closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the border to the United States is still closed to all non-essential travel, those travelling on work permits to the United States remain unaffected by the recent Trump administration executive orders.