Canadians avoid Trump US visa restrictions thanks to NAFTA

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

This seems like good news for Canadians.  Canadians can gain entry with a TN visa in many circumstances under NAFTA The North American Free Trade Agreement.  This allows entry of Canadians to do a number of degree level jobs in the US.  NAFTA created a special economic and trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico which went into effect on 1 January 1994.  It seems that Canadians may also be able to apply for the L1 visa.

Trump’s latest executive order, which temporarily suspends US work visa programs such as the H1B, H2B and L1 visa routes, may not apply to Canadians, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

Citizens of Canada entering the US for work, but do not intend to stay permanently, don’t necessarily require the US work visas that have been shut down by the Trump administration, says the AILA.

The group said: “We believe that President Trump’s proclamation does not apply to Canada. In the absence of clear guidance, the stance taken by US Customs and Border Protection officials varies from port to port.”

The AILA that that Canadians have not been ‘lumped in’ with others who are ineligible to work in the US.

Canadians are able to apply for TN non-immigrant status in the US when they arrive in the country.

US border with Canada closed

The US border with Canada has been officially closed indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic, prompting questions about whether Canadians are actually exempt from Trump’s latest immigration restrictions.

It’s understood that US Customs and Border Protection has been contacted for comment on the matter. However, at the time of writing, there has been no response.

Donald Trump policy applies to new visa applications

Trump’s latest immigration restrictions, said to be orchestrated by one of the President’s closest aides – Stephen Miller, only prevent new US work visa applications. People in the US on an existing, valid, non-immigrant employment-based visa are allowed to continue working in the country.

Although Canadians don’t require such a visa, holding one does give them certain protections and advantages. For example, the H1B visa offers a pathway to permanent residency and US citizenship.

H1B visas issued to Canadians

According to official Department of Homeland Security records, approximately 4,600 Canadians were granted a US H1B visa in 2019.

Trump’s executive order closes all US work visa programs until the end of the year, prompting many immigrants to consider their options on a move to Canada instead.

A number of US firms, especially in the tech sector, have blasted Trump’s decision, saying that it will only serve to harm the economy and not help it recover.

The President had been under pressure to suspend work visa programs because of surging unemployment rates among American workers.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

The decision has also cast doubt over the future of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has run into severe financial difficulties amid the coronavirus.

USCIS, which is funded by the fees generated by US visa and immigration applications, is waiting on a decision from Congress for a $1.2 billion bailout.

The closure of US work visa programs will seemingly add further financial pressures to the stricken agency, which is preparing to furlough more than 13,000 staff in August if Congress does not sanction the funding it needs.

Workpermit.com can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visasE1 and E2 visasO1 visas, and H1B visas - Workpermit.com can help. 

Workpermit.com is a specialist visa services business with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details.  You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.