The United States is known to be a land of opportunity. Due to the geographical proximity and close ties that Canada has with the US, many Canadians want to take advantage of those opportunities. Whether it is for work, investment purposes, personal reasons and relationships or simply to enjoy a different lifestyle, many Canadians are hoping to move temporarily or permanently to the US. Similarly, Canadian companies who plan to expand their business south of the border sometimes need to send key employees or executives to the US to start the new US venture or to oversee new employees. US visas are divided into three main categories: family-based visas for Canadians having American relatives able to sponsor them, employment-based visas for Canadians with a job offer in the US, or investor visas for Canadians who wish to invest or start a US business. The immigration law group at Altro LLP assists these individuals and companies to obtain the US visas required in order to fulfill their cross border ambitions.

US immigration law is complex and rather restrictive. In other words, not everyone who wants to work or live in the US is eligible for a visa. Furthermore, immigration rules can differ depending on the nationality of the person applying for a visa. For example, Canadian citizens benefit from many advantages with regards to a number of US visas. Those benefits include shorter wait times, simpler application procedures as well as the availability of exclusive visas under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Treaty. Altro LLP has specialized knowledge regarding all the specificities of US visas for Canadian citizens.

Immigrating to the US and obtaining a visa involves dealing with multiple laws and rules as well as different and distinct government agencies. For example, people applying for a visa while inside the US must deal with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), whereas people applying from outside the US will have to deal with different agencies, including American consulates in their home country.

The immigration group of Altro LLP assists its clients through every step of the immigration process from the development of the immigration strategy to the visa application with the appropriate agencies and the preparation for interviews with the various agencies.

The Altro LLP team helps its clients who wish to invest to the US or move to the US for work or personal reasons.

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Family Sponsorship

Altro LLP regularly assists Canadian clients obtain US permanent residence with family members who are either American citizens or American permanent residents.

Family ties to US citizens or permanent residents can sometimes make a non-US person eligible for an immigrant visa (green card) which will allow this person to move permanently to the US. This is what is called family-based immigrant visas.

Family ties to US citizens or permanent residents can sometimes make a non-US person eligible for an immigrant visa (green card) which will allow this person to move permanently to the US. This is what is called family-based immigrant visas.

Some family relationships are preferred and prioritized within the family-based category. For example, “immediate relatives,” which include a US citizen’s spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21 and a parent (if the US citizen is over the age of 21), receive priority treatment of their applications and benefit from much shorter wait times to obtain their green card since they do not have to wait for a visa number to become available to them. If a person does not fit under the definition of “immediate relative,” he or she may fall into one of the different preference categories and have to wait for a visa number to become available before making their application, thereby having to wait a longer period of time before receiving their green card.

There are two different ways to apply for a family-based visa: adjustment of status or consular processing. Adjustment of status is when a person applies for a visa from within the US, whereas consular processing is when the application is made from outside the US. Canadians have to be very careful when planning to use adjustment of status from inside the US since their intention when they cross the border will be scrutinized. Therefore, depending on how someone crosses the US border and the reasons he or she states for entering the US can determine whether or not there was misrepresentation as to his or her intent. For example, people entering the US under some non-immigrant visas may never be able to adjust their status to permanent residence because the visa through which he or she has entered does not allow for what is called “dual intent.” Altro LLP helps our clients determine the best way to apply for their visa considering their personal situation and intentions while avoiding pitfalls.

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Employment Visas

Canadians who get a job offer in the US or who are being sent by their Canadian employer to the US branch must obtain an employment-based visa prior to starting to work in the US. Most employment-based immigrant visas (EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3) require highly specialized knowledge or skills, advanced degrees or a professional title with work experience, as well as sponsorship by a US employer.

Another type of visa which is solely available to Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) treaty, the TN visa, is available for a number of categories of professionals and allows Canadians to work in the US for a maximum of three years at a time with the possibility of unlimited renewals.

The L-1 Visa allows officers and executives or employees with specialized knowledge to work for a US branch or subsidiary of a Canadian company. This type of visa is specifically useful for Canadian companies who wish to start doing business in the US and who need to send key members of their team to manage and assist with the US business.

Some of the above-mentioned employment-based visas, can create a path to permanent residence in the US. However, not all employment-based visas lead to permanent residence. For this reason, it is important to choose your type of visa while carefully considering your long-term plans. The Altro LLP team helps professionals and other Canadian individuals who wish to work in the US to determine their immediate immigration needs while planning for the future in order to make the immediate strategy compatible with US residency if this is the client’s goal.

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Investor Visas

Canadians who wish to do business and work in the US could be eligible for investor visas. These visas all typically require the investment of a significant sum of money in either a business controlled by the immigrant or in some cases, a qualifying passive investment.

This category is unique in that the visas are all essentially “self-sponsored” by the entrepreneur/investor. There is generally no qualifying family or employment relationship associated with the visa.

Two of the most popular visas in this category are the E-2 Treaty Investor visa and the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa. The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is a non-immigrant visa for individuals starting or purchasing a business in the US. While there is no clear Green Card path from an E-2 Treaty Investor visa it is renewable indefinitely. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa is a Green Card that may be obtained with a $500,000 USD qualifying investment.

The Altro LLP team can help you figure out the best visa for you and help you every step of the way with the application process.

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