Global Expansion

Working in the US as a Canadian: Everything you need to know

Nena Petrovic
Global Sales Director
April 22, 2022

For Canadians who work abroad, it’s highly likely the US will be their new home from home. There’s no need to fly, the language and culture won’t be too unfamiliar, and plenty of Canadian companies operate in the US, and vice versa.

Despite these similarities, Canadians will still have to apply for a work visa like other nationalities before they can legally work in the US. But, Canadians are at a big advantage compared to other nationals.

We’ll look at how easy it is for Canadians to work in the US and understand what processes both employers and employees need to follow.

Can US companies hire Canadians?

Absolutely. There are no restrictions when it comes to hiring Canadians, or people of any nationality in the USA. However, they will need:

  • A permanent residency permit, also known as a green card, or;
  • The correct work visa, depending on their country of origin and skillset
  • A clean criminal record

Do Canadians need a working visa for USA?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a little more complicated. The system for Canadians is different to the rest of the world, owing to the higher likelihood of a Canadian being employed by a US company or the person emigrating. The following visas are available to Canadian employees who wish to work and reside in the US:

TN Visas

If you are a Canadian with a job offer in the United States, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) agreement may allow you to apply for a TN Visa. This is the quickest way to obtain a work visa in the United States.

Visa H-1B

If you are a Canadian who has been offered a job in the United States, you may be eligible for an H-1B visa. The H-1B visa has numerous advantages for Canadians working in the United States.

L-1 Visa

An L-1 visa may be best suited for Canadian workers who are hired by Canadian companies but are being transferred to US operations.

E-2 Vias

E-2 visas are for business owners and investors in the United States. The E-2 is a temporary work visa in the United States that can be obtained for “significant” investments in the country. To qualify for an E-2 visa, an investment must meet a number of requirements.

Are Canadian employees attractive to US companies?

Absolutely. As well as excellent levels of higher education attainment, Canadians are often better qualified than US workers. It’s also very easy to embed Canadians into US companies from a culture perspective, and most of the time, there is no language barrier.

How does a US company pay Canadian employees?

If a Canadian employee has attained the correct work visa and is physically residing in the US, then they will be paid through the usual payroll system into their US bank account. They’ll pay the usual taxes and social security payments as a US citizen.

If the Canadian employee is employed by a US company but works remotely in Canada, then they follow local labour laws. The employer must have either a legal entity set up in Canada, or use a US payroll company, such as an Employer of Record, to be able to pay their Canadians employees.

Using an Employer of Record in Canada

An Employer of Record (EOR) is a registered entity which is responsible for managing payroll, hiring and the administration of employees in a foreign country. In the case of US companies employing Canadians in Canada, there is no need to set up a Canadian entity. Instead, the Employer of Record acts as the employer, with full control of the Canadian workforce still remaining with the US organisation.

This option is perfect if you aren’t quite ready to set up shop in Canada, but you want to tap into Canadian expertise, without bringing employees into the US. When you engage with an EOR in Canada, your employees become the EOR’s legal responsibility, and the company will handle all of the paperwork related to paying your Canadian employees. An employer of record can also handle benefits administration, human resources, health and safety, and other services in addition to payroll.

The other benefit is the opportunity to tap into the EOR’s expertise and understand employing Canadians workers and the cultural nuances and regulatory differences between Canada and the US.

Just bear in mind that this option is only suitable for hiring and paying Canadians in Canada, and you won’t be able to use a Canadian EOR if you need your Canadian employees to reside and work at your premises in the US.


Employing Canadians or working in the US as a Canadian can be as complex or as simple as you make it, depending on your requirements when it comes to the location of your workers. If it’s a case of tapping into skill sets and there’s no need for the employee to be based in the US, then partnering with an Employer of Record is an excellent option.

The person will still be employed as if they were working directly with the US organisation, and it is only things like payroll and HR-related admin that will be done by the EOR.

If you need your Canadian workers to be based locally, or if you wish to emigrate to the US, then a visa or permanent residency is needed. There are no other workarounds.

Thinking of hiring in Canada or employing Canadians in the US? Enlist the in-country expertise of a global employer of record (EOR) like TopSource Worldwide to make expanding into Canada enjoyable and hassle-free. Contact us today.


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Nena Petrovic
Global Sales Director
Nena Petrovic is the Client Advisor Team Leader at TopSource Worldwide, a leading Global Expansion services provider. She oversees and guides a team of client advisors, who communicate and collaborate with clients effectively. She is responsible for ensuring the accurate and timely processing of client invoices and payroll, as well as developing strategies and maintaining a client-centric approach.

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