Your guide to working in the US as a Canadian

Piyush Singh

You’re probably aware of the unique challenges involved in any international move, especially from Canada to the US. It can be difficult to navigate the differences between employment and financial laws in different countries when you’re just getting started.

In this article, we'll look at some key considerations for Canadians thinking about working in the US. We'll also explore how Wise can provide powerful assistance when managing your finances while living and working stateside.


Table of contents

Legal Necessities For A Canadian Resident To Work In The US

Before entering the country, Canadians travelling by air must have valid passports. For those entering by land or sea, they need to have a WHTI-compliant document such as an enhanced driver's licence (EDL) or a NEXUS card.

It is also important to note that Canadians may require visas for certain kinds of employment. You should consult with your employer before making any travel arrangements.

One such visa is the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) visa. This allows workers from other countries, including Canada, to work temporarily in the US. Mainly, this visa is used for contract-based workers, like farmers, or students who will only be in the country for a set amount of time¹.

Another option is the H1-B visa. This visa applies to workers who are highly-trained fashion models or who work in “specialty occupations”. The U.S. Department of Labor defines this by stating: “A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent”².

While the US Department of State accepts most visa applications, you should be prepared for the possibility of being denied. This might be because you didn’t provide enough information or your job doesn’t fit the visa’s criteria. You might also be ineligible because of past criminal or illegal activities³.

You do have the ability to reapply for a visa if you’re rejected, however. You will simply need to fill out the forms and pay associated fees again. In some cases, you’ll need to show proof that the circumstances that caused the rejection have changed³.

Refusals that require more information do not need a reapplication - just provide the documents as soon as possible, and you’ll be on your way to your new visa³!

Unfortunately, there is no specific visa renewal process for NAFTA visas. This means you will have to go through the application process again once your visa expires¹.

An H-1B visa, on the other hand, does allow for renewals. You initially get a 3-year visa, which you can extend for up to 6 years. You will simply need to fill out forms before the expiration dates are up. You can learn more about the process on the US immigration website⁴.

Strengthen Your Finances With Wise

Once you’ve sorted out the legal requirements, it's time to take a look at your finances. When working in the US as a Canadian citizen, you need to be able to manage and move money between countries. This is where Wise can help.

With Wise’s multi-currency account, you can easily receive payments in one currency (such as CAD) and spend that same money abroad (say USD). You won’t have to worry about exchange rate fees or hidden charges with Wise’s transparent pricing. Here’s how much it would cost to send money back to Canada:

The true cost of sending USD to CAD

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

Wise is known for two unique and helpful features: the Wise card for spending like a local in the US and the ability to send and receive money at the mid-market rate, with no hidden costs. This means you can easily transfer funds between countries without worrying about losing out on exchange rates.

There’s no better place to boost your finances abroad. Now, eligible customers** can opt in to receive annual percentage yield (APY)* on their USD balance with Wise’s interest feature (APY subject to change, certain limitations apply — see Program Agreement for more information)

*4.33% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on USD balances is current as of 8/1/2023 and is subject to change see Program Agreement for details

**Feature not available to residents of New York or Alaska at this time. Please see eligibility criteria.

Tax Responsibilities In The US And Canada

One of the most important financial considerations for Canadians working in the US is taxes. Depending on your residency status, you’ll pay your taxes to the US, Canada, or both. However, you may also be eligible for several deductions and credits that can help reduce your overall tax burden⁵.

It's essential to understand your tax responsibilities in both countries, so read up on what applies to your specific situation. The Government of Canada’s article called “Leaving Canada (emigrants)”7 and the IRS’ article, “Tax Information and Responsibilities for New Immigrants to the United States”8, are sure to help you.

Guidelines For Working In The US

Generally, working in the US requires citizenship or a visa. This applies to in-person or hybrid work because you will have to live and work in the US. Remote work from Canada will not apply to the traditional visa requirements unless you ever are travelling to work in person. Then, you may require a temporary visa.

You can learn more about working in the US from US Citizenship and Immigration Services⁶.


  1. U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs
  2. U.S. Department of Labor
  3. U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs
  4. VisaNation
  5. IRS
  6. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  7. Leaving Canda (Emigrants)
  8. Tax Information and Responsibilities for New Immigrants to the United States

Sources verified on: 15 November 2023

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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