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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Are You Canadian & Keen On Doing Business in US? What Visa Choices You Have? - Business - Entrepreneurship

Every day, goods and services worth $1.5 billion cross the common borders between the US and Canada. From the time when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was endorsed way back in 1994, the volume of trade between the involved countries has headed north every year to the situation wherein the US accounts for as much as 80% of the total exports of Canada and 75% of its total imports. One remarkable data is that the US is a hotspot for as much as 93% of the total exports of Ontario. Improved access to the US post NAFTA implies greater and improved opportunities for the business and people of the Maple Country, i.e., Canada.

As amply proved by the increasing number of inquiries, an apparently common false impression exists that the NAFTA has made the procedures for conducting business across America liberal. But, visas are still needed for those keen to trade with or work inside the borders of the US.

Visa Options

The TN, E-1 and E-2, H-1B, and L-1 are the most employed non-immigrant visas by the Canadians. Each visa comes with a distinct set of requirements and privileges. For instance, the L-1 and the H-1B Visas may take one to the much prized Permanent Residency (PR). In case the candidate aspires to do business in America, it's recommended that he seek legal counsel to find-out whether he is eligible for one or more visas. And, in case he is, which specific one suits him the best for his particular state of affairs.Significantly, the NAFTA has come up with a new class, the TN Visa, for those skilled workers from the Maple Country who are eligible.

The said visa is available to those who practice definite professional occupations. A Bachelor's Degree, license and/or experience are needed. One must also have a job offer from America and must cater to the minimum requirements for his specific vocation. A properly completed document package, backed with authoritative evidence, implies that the candidate may go to any of the American port of entry, to get his application checked by an immigration officer posted there.

After his status gets sanctioned, the involved person will be given an I-94 card, prior to being admitted into the US. Quotas do not exist and the candidate has the status to stay and do a job in America, for a period of one year. He may renew his status. The rather fast time period in receiving the TN status makes this a rather interesting prospect for several Canadians.

This takes us to the H-1B Specialty Worker visas! These are meant for those who work in a specialized vocation, or to the fashion models of outstanding merit. To make the cut, unless the candidate is a fashion model, he must have not less than a Bachelor's Degree, or extensive first-hand experience that corresponds to the said qualification. Among some of the requirements are that the involved person first must have include an offer of job from a US job-provider. He must also have filed a Labor Condition Application with the concerned Department of Labor.

The L-1 Intracompany Transferee visas are made available to those employees who work for a firm with a parent, subsidiary, branch, affiliate or joint enterprise in America. The aspirant must have been employed for the firm outside the US for one unbroken year, out of the last three as a manager, executive or as a person with expert knowledge. He would be expected to perform at a post which is akin once he is transferred.

The candidate may also apply for an L-1 to open a new office even as in this case his visa is, at first, sanctioned for one year, following which additional proof is filed to extend the period of the said visa. Quota restrictions do not exist. Petitions are normally sanctioned inside 4 to 8 weeks even as the visas are usually issued many weeks following the approval of petition.

The E-1 Treaty Trader Visas are available to the nationals of certain nations which have commercial links with America, and who will engage in trade of a substantial nature between the US and the treaty nation. Canada is a treaty nation under both E visa categories. To meet the criteria, the candidate must turn up on the soils of the US to work for an enterprise -- not less than 50% of which must be owned by the citizens of the treaty country.

The E-1 visas are issued only to the principal owners or key employees, in case all have the same treaty nationality. More than 50% of the firm's trade must be between the US and the treaty nation. The E-2 Treaty Investor visas are available to people of those nations which have commercial links with the US, and who will direct and develop a US venture in which the individual has made an investment, or is vigorously involved with the process of investing a sizeable chunk of capital.

It needs to be mentioned that investment made in stocks, land speculation or holding companies does not make the grade. The E-2 visas are issued to principal owners or essential employees -- provided all share the same treaty nationality. To be eligible, as a principal owner, the candidate must own not less than 50% of the enterprise, and also exhibit operational control, via a managerial position, or by other manners.

To make the grade, as an essential worker, the aspirant must be an executive, supervisor, or have highly specialized skills. Quota restrictions do not exist even as the said visas are normally issued within two to four weeks.

Taking Experts' Help

Examples of immigration disasters are not uncommon. In most of the cases, the victims happen to be those who may have made attempts to conclude the immigration process themselves, or who may have employed the services of a struggling human resources manager. One must understand that engaging the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) may not be an easy process. As the INS has strict procedural rules and filing requirements, any mistake will imply inordinately long delays, or even rejection of a visa.

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