Moving to USNewsMar 18, 2024

Working in the US: Guide for Canadians

The US has long been a popular country for foreign investment, attracting millions of nonresident investors each year. It’s also a country built on immigration, making it very open to anyone looking for job opportunities or an overall better quality of life. Because of that, it’s no wonder that every year, between 3 and 5 million people choose to move to the US for work and make this great country their permanent home. And a sizable portion of those people come from Canada.     

In this article, we’ll answer the question: Can Canadians work in the US? We’ll also discuss the main reasons for Canadians working in the US and share the common types of US work Visa for Canadians.

Let’s start!

Can Canadians Work in the US?

The answer is — absolutely YES! Like other foreigners, Canadians can move to the US and find work. But, to do that (i.e. legal work in the US), Canadians need to get an appropriate US work visa. 

Now, without a visa and with just their passports, Canadians are legally allowed to do many things in the US apart from working. They can visit the country as tourists and stay there for up to 6 months (during a 12-month period). They can buy vacation properties or invest in US real estate. For example, in 2023, 55% of all Canadian buyers chose to buy property in Florida, collectively spending nearly 3,5 billion dollars. 

As we’ve mentioned above, Canadians can do many things in the US, but to work, they do need a work visa, (just like other foreigners).The only significant difference between Canadians and other foreign nationals looking to relocate to the US for work is that Canadians can do it much easier

Because of how closely tied the US and Canada are, because of the similar culture and values, and most importantly, because of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the road to Canadians working in US is extremely easy to cross. Canadians are eligible for more types of US work visas than any other foreign nationals.  

can canadians work in the us if they have a us work visa

Can Canadians Work in the US: Main Reasons to Move to the US for Work

The most recent estimates suggest that there are around 800,000 Canadians working in the US. The actual number could be a lot higher, as estimates don’t take into account people who are cross-border workers (i.e. Canadian citizen working in the US, but still living in Canada). Now, the question is, why are so many Canadians choosing to work in the US?

Larger Economy and More Job Opportunities

The US has a much stronger economy than Canada. It is, in fact, the world’s largest economy, with a yearly GDP of about 16 trillion dollars. In contrast, Canada’s GDP is more than nine times smaller, at around $1,8 trillion. 

Apart from a much larger economy, the US also has a smaller unemployment rate, sitting at around 3,9% (at the time of writing this article). On the other hand, the unemployment rate in Canada is about 5,9%, largely due to Canada’s steep increase in interest rates.

The job market in the US is also larger and offers a lot more opportunities and diverse work positions to potential applicants. As of the latest data from January 2024, there are over 8,86 million job openings in the States, while in Canada the number of job vacancies is just over 843,000.

Higher Average Salary

The data from Q4 of 2023 shows that the average annual salary in the US is around $59,384, which is an increase of about 5,4% from 2022. In comparison, the average yearly salary in Canada is close to $44,850, or just around $15,000 lower than the annual salary in the US

The US also has more high-paying jobs (where people can make more than $100,000 per annum) than Canada. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, as the US has a much larger population than Canada. (330 million compared to 38 million)

Easier to Buy a House

One of the vital reasons for Canadians working in US is that it’s easier to buy real estate in the States, which allows for the creation of generational wealth. Buying a house is about having a place to live, that’s a given. But it is also about setting up your or your family’s future. And that can be more easily done in the US, than in Canada. 

The average house cost in Canada is just under $500,000. On the other hand, in the US, the cost of an average home is a bit over $347,000. 

The lower cost of properties is good news for Canadians looking to put down roots in the US, yes. But, it also offers a good investment opportunity for Canadian investors who are looking for affordable properties with high rental yields. For example, there are many places in the US where houses cost less than 300K but can bring in a 10% or more ROI per year

Real estate prices in the US are cheaper than in Canada, but that’s not the only reason why it’s easier to purchase a house in the US. The other big thing that makes buying US real estate less troublesome is the highly developed financial system. There are many types of mortgage loans in the US, each with different eligibility requirements. This variety in both home loans and financing options is what, in great part, makes buying a house in the US so much easier than in Canada.  

The most common types of US mortgage loans available to Canadians are:

Are you a Canadian looking to buy property in the US? NRI can help you get the best mortgage loans in the US to finance your ideal home.

How to Work in the US as a Canadian: US Work Visa for Canadians

The answer to the question of how to work in the US as a Canadian is quite simple. It boils down to five simple words: You need a work visa. Luckily for you, there are many different types of US visas available to Canadians, and they are not that difficult to get. 

The main types of US work visa for Candians are:

us visa types for canadians who want to work in the us

TN-1 Visa 

The TN nonimmigrant visa offers the easiest path for Canadians to start working in the US. Formerly a part of NAFTA and now under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the TN-1 visa has the lowest eligibility requirements out of all US Work Visa for Canadians. This work visa covers 63 professional categories. And the way to get it is by having a valid job offer from the US within one of the professional categories described in the USMCA. Some of those job categories are:

  • Accountant
  • Lawyer
  • Pharmacist
  • Dentist
  • College professor
  • Veterinarian

H-1B Visa 

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US employers to hire foreign nationals (including Canadians), but only for specialty occupations. Specialty occupations usually require a bachelor’s degree or a higher form of education. With an H-1B visa, Canadian citizens can work and temporarily stay in the US for a period of up to 3 years. The visa can be extended to a maximum of 6 years. It’s important to note that there is a hard cap on how many H-1B visas the US gives out each year:

  • 65,000 for eligible foreign nationals
  • 20,000 for eligible foreign nationals who studied and received a degree in the US (master’s or higher)

L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa allows Canadians who work for a multinational company to move to the US at a branch or affiliate of the same company. To get this US work visa for Canadians, a person needs to be a manager or executive or work in a specialized knowledge capacity. Types of L-1 Visa are:

  • L1-A Visa —This type of US work visa for Canadians is reserved for intracompany transfers of managerial or executive staff.
  • L1-B Visa — This type of work visa is for intracompany transfers of employees with specialized knowledge about the company’s products, services, organizational processes, etc.

O-1 Visa

The O-1 US work visa for Canadians is for those who demonstrate extraordinary skills in different fields, including:

  • Athletics
  • Arts
  • Business
  • Education 
  • Science

There are two categories of O-1 visa:

  • O-1A — For Candians who show exceptional abilities in science, education, business or athletics.
  • O-1B — For Candians who show exceptional abilities in art (film, music, theater, etc) and have gained national or international acclaim for their work.

E-1 and E-2 Visas

E-1 and E-2 Visas are both work visas but have slightly different eligibility criteria. 

E-1 is a US work visa for Canadians designed to facilitate international trade and commerce between two countries. It’s reserved for those Canadians who are involved in creating sizable trade agreements between the US and Canada. E-2 is for Canadians working in US and investing a significant amount of money in US-based business. This type of visa aims to promote foreign investment in the US economy. 

Canadian Communities in the US

The most recent data about Canadian immigrants, shows that the following US states are the most popular with Canadians:

  • California — Around 16% of all Canadian immigrants, during the period between 2015-1019, chose California as their destination. 
  • Florida —   About 14% of all Canadian immigrants, during the period between 2015-1019, chose to move to Florida.
  • New York — About 7% of all Canadian immigrants, during the period between 2015-1019, chose to relocate to New York State.
  • Texas — About 6% of all Canadian immigrants, during the period between 2015-1019, chose to move to the state of Texas.

The US places with the highest population of immigrants from Canada are:

  • Los Angeles County
  • Orange County
  • Maricopa County
  • King County
  • Broward County


Does Canadian need sponsorship to work in US?

No, Canadians don’t technically need sponsorship to work in the US. However, certain types of US work visas for Canadians will require sponsorship from a US-based employer. 

Am I legally authorized to work in the US as a Canadian?

If you have appropriate work authorization or a visa, you can legally work in the US as a Canadian. 

How hard is it to get a job in the US as a Canadian?

Due to the many cultural and financial ties between these two countries, it’s not that difficult to get a job in the US as a Canadian citizen.

Looking to Buy a Home in the US? NRI Can Help!

NRI is a full-cycle agency that helps foreigners, including Canadian citizens, buy real estate in the USA. We help our clients with every step involved in buying a house in the US:

From connecting you with our vast network of real estate agents who all have experience working with international clients to helping you find the best mortgage loans and making sure all tax-related documentation is accurately filled out, according to US state and federal laws. 

If you’re looking to move to the US for work and are trying to sort out your living situation, the NRI team will help you find and buy your ideal US home. Book a free call or contact us to learn more about all the things we can do for you.

Founder & CEO
Luka Malkovich is a serial entrepreneur with years of experience in international real estate investing. As the CEO of Nonresident Investor, Luka’s mission is to educate foreign nationals about the US real estate market and help them secure funding and buy property in America. That’s why he’s using his expertise to turn the NRI blog into a knowledge hub for anyone interested in learning about US real estate. This article was written by a professional content writer in conjunction with Luka Malkovich. Luka has thoroughly reviewed this article and has given his final approval before publishing.

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