By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
Does being a Canadian citizen offer unique benefits of access to the United States market?
This is more-or-less the question I read on twitter from U.S. citizenship renunciation expert John Richardson last week on the last day of 2023.
“Question on @Quora: Is the only real advantage in being a Canadian in accessing the US market, six months visa free stays & a limited range of professions on the TN visa list which also does not lead do a Green Card? No special concessions or fast track ..”
Citizenship in one country can provide powerful springboarding to a second country. In this case, Canadian citizenship offers a unique combination of these springboard benefits to the United States that no other country on earth offers.
This heightened access is provided in bits and pieces through a smorgasbord of a) beneficial conditions, b) eligibilities, and c) exemptions in visa processing and trusted traveler programs.
Here are the six biggest advantages of access to the U.S. market provided by Canadian citizenship, provided in no particular order.
1. Six Month Visa-Free Stay
Canadian citizens are eligible for a six-month visa-free tourist stay in the United States.
This is a marked advantage over the 41 (mostly western European) countries that have visa waiver access to the United States. Unlike Canada, citizens of these visa-waiver programs can only visit the United States for up to 90 days without having to schlep to a U.S. consulate and apply in person for a B2 tourist visa.
Canadians get double the immediate visa-free stay in the United States. Not even our British cousins across the pond enjoy this benefit.
2. ESTA Exemption
Canadians do not have to register for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before visiting the United States visa-free.
By contrast, citizens of the 41 visa-waiver countries mentioned above must do so. Canadians’ exemption from ESTA provides one less bureaucratic hassle to deal with before visiting the United States. Being ESTA exempt also provides one less vulnerability to improperly filling out a form with information that can be used against you through an accusation of material misrepresentation under INA 212(a)(6)(c)(i).
List of 41 Visa waiver programs (link here)
In short, you’re better off being able to enter the United States without being subject to ESTA; Canadians can do this.
3. NEXUS Eligibility
U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian citizens, Canadian lawful permanent residents are eligible for NEXUS.
NEXUS is a “trusted traveler” program that allows members to use designated lane-crossings and kiosks for entrance into the U.S. and Canada. Basically, the program allows you to get through the border more quickly, which can be a big benefit for frequent travelers between Canada and the United States.
From the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website:
“The NEXUS program allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing when entering the United States and Canada. Program members use dedicated processing lanes at designated northern border ports of entry, NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian Preclearance airports. NEXUS members also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations.”
Benefits of NEXUS program (link here)
In short, a Canadian citizen with a NEXUS card can enter the U.S. more quickly at some border crossings.
4. TN Visa Eligibility
Canadian citizens, along with Mexican citizens, are eligible for a special class of U.S. work visas that are not available to citizens of other countries. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa is for certain professionals (listed in 8 CFR § 214.6) who are citizens of Canada & Mexico.
The list of eligible professions includes registered nurses, physicians, lawyers, scientists, teachers, and accountants, among dozens of others. The TN visa provides an initial stay authorization for three years in the U.S. and can be renewed indefinitely, provided the applicant continues to meet the TN eligibility requirements.
Just a sample of the list of professions eligible for TN visas (link here)
In short, Canadians (& Mexicans) have a special U.S. work visa available to them that citizens of other countries don’t have.
5. Eligibility to Apply for Nonimmigrant Visas at the
In addition to TN visa status, Canadians can also apply for other nonimmigrant visa statuses such as L-1, at U.S. borders, instead of having to apply at U.S. consulates.
Given chronically backlogged interview appointments at U.S. consulates around the world, being able to apply for a visa at designated U.S. border stations can be an enormous benefit and cut down the waiting time for a nonimmigrant visa by months.
In short, Canadians suffer less friction applying for certain U.S. nonimmigrant visas than citizens from other countries.
6. E-1 and E-2 Visa Eligibility
Canada is a member of both the E-1 and E-2 visa treaties. E-1 and E-2 visas can be issued for periods of three months to five years, depending on the applicant’s country of nationality. The complete list of E-1 and E-2 visa treaty countries is here.
Yep - Canada's on the list
Canadian citizens benefit from the maximum E-1 and E-2 visa validity periods available to them -multiple entry visas of five years duration. E visas can be renewed indefinitely as long as the applicant continues to qualify.
The U.S. Visa Reciprocity Table for Canada
According to the U.S. Department of State, 4,612 Canadians applied for an E visa (either E-1 or E-2) in the 2022 fiscal year.
U.S. nonimmigrant visas issued in fiscal year 2022, by country
In short, Canadians have access to E-1 and E-2 visa eligibility to the U.S.
7. Consult with Malakouti Law
Click here to consult with Malakouti Law about how to increase your freedom of movement, including access to the United States.
Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified immigration and citizenship lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.