How can a Canadian go work in the US?

I would like to work in the States next year after I graduate from school. I have a bachelor’s degree, and I’ll be qualified as a medical technologist after taking the ASCP exam next summer.

I’m trying to look into work visas and what to do with them, but I’m completely lost. Do I need to have a job already lined up? How do I do that if I’m technically not yet allowed to work in the country?

I know people manage this sort of thing all the time. Can any Dopers who’ve gone through this give me an idea of how it’s done?

To clarify (and give this one more chance to be seen), I’m also looking for personal anecdotes from people who’ve packed up and left their country for a new start. How did you do it? How terrifying was it?

Under normal circumstances your chance of being granted a work visa would be slim and none (the chances are the same for an American wishing to work in Canada, if its any consolation) The good news is, many people in the medical professions can have an exemption to the normal rules that govern work visas. The bad news is, the US has the most complicated visa system in the Western world.

There is at least one immigration paralegal who posts regularly, but you will need to do more research than you will probbaly get through this thread. For example, you’ll need to find out if your field is really considered medical enough to qualify for an exemption.

I packed up and left Canada to come here and get married, seven years ago. We filed for my green card and work permit at the same time, and it turned out to be just short of a year until I got my work permit. Not having been able to work for a year was a strain! I had a job two days after my permit arrived. I believe the immigration laws have changed significantly since I became a resident, so I have no advice to give you. I do know that you can’t just come here and work without special clearance.

My dad is also a lab tech (as am I) and I remember once when he was considering moving the family to the states. IIRC, this was at a time when certain states were hurting for lab techs and the hospitals that were hiring at the time were the ones who were going to look after all the visa crap. He saw this in the ads in the back of the CSMLS Spectrum newsletter. If I was you I’d check the job postings on the CSMLS website (you DID pay your membership dues, didn’t you?).

Check out the NAFTA Handbook, pp. 122-141 - sounds like all you may need is a job offer from an employer in your field who is willing to sponsor your TN:

(Of course, the job offer is usually the hard part.)

Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal