Immigration from Canada to the US for the with the intent of establishing permanent residency

I have an online acquaintance who is considering a move from Canada to the US, with the intent of getting a job and setting up residency here. I’ve been wondering how difficult it is, because my cursory research on the USCIS website leads me to believe that it’s nearly impossible with his background.

Background facts: He runs a restaurant and has no post-secondary education. My research tells me that to get TN-1 status or an H visa he needs post-secondary education and needs to work in one of the occupations listed as eligible.

In addition, even if he could get TN-1 status, he would not be eligible to petition for residency since that status does not permit dual intent.

He seems to think that since he’s permitted to enter the US for six months, that’s all that matters. I disagree. Can I get some guidance and some backup on this? Eva Luna, are you around?

Thanks in advance.

Based on the info offered, a cursory review of Green Card Eligibility doesn’t look good. Visiting for six months, even with a work visa just won’t cut it. If he overstays the visa just to remain, he becomes an illegal alien. At that point, when he’s caught his legal chance to later obtain a Green Card is virtually nil.

When he says he’s permitted to enter the U.S. for six months, it surely must be as a tourist. While he might (illegally) work for cash, like many other illegal immigrants, tourists are not supposed to work. Tourists generally cannot get a Social Security number to work legally, obtain a U.S. driver’s license, and so forth.

Does he have any intentions of marrying a U.S. citizen?

If so, he could apply for a K-1 Fiance Visa, come to the U.S., get married, and become legal.

He might also come here as a tourist, and then decide to marry someone, stay here, and apply for what’s called “adjustment of status.”

Note that if he enters the U.S. as a tourist with the intention of getting married, that’s generally considered visa fraud. If he comes here for vacation and then later decides to get married, it’s a different story.

As it turns out, he has a sister who is a naturalized American. She can therefore sponsor his citizenship, which makes things easier. However, according to the current Visa Bulletin, current cutoff date for applicants in that category is 10/1/1999. Is there really a 10-year backlog on these applications? Would he be permitted to remain in the US and seek employment while his application is pending for 10 years, or would he have to remain in Canada during this time?

And yes, AFAIK, the 6-month visa-free period for Canadians is tourism only. If there is an intent to stay permanently, then it’s fraudulent.

A 10-year backlog sounds about right. As you have found out, an application sponsored by a sibling has very low priority.

If I understand correctly, he will have to wait in Canada, unless he can do an “adjustment of status” while in the US. However, unless he can score an H-1 visa, which does allow dual-intent, this will probably look very much like fraud in this case.

Of course, if he looks like he’s not just going to visit his sister - if the border guard even suspects that he’s planning a complete move (“Why are you taking a dresser and sofa for a 5-month visit?”) then they may deny him entry. Things like what job he has, where he will stay and what he’s going to do, how much money, etc. may set off warning flags. If he seems evasive or his story is inconsistent… depends how alert or ornery the border guard is.

The US border patrol are little dictators and can do whatever they want. They can ask questions that an employer or others cannot (“Have you ever been arrested?”) They can search watever they want; if you object or complain it just annoys them. Their attitude seems to have gotten worse thanks to Cheney’s war on terror. They can do whatever they want, and you can’t “demand to speak to their boss”. If they deny you entry, you’re SOL until you do a whole bunch of paperwork with the embassy in Ottawa.

One guy who was sent on a business trip from our company got turned back at the airport because he was drunk and uncooperative. They based it on the fact that he had a conviction as a juvenile when he was 17 (he was in his 50’s) and “we think you resemble one of our wanted felons”. Big embarassment, waste of thousands of dollars.

So - crossing the border under false pretenses - risky. Working illegally - very risky. If he’s caught, as others point out, that’s it for visting the USA for quite a while; no vacations to Vegas or Disneyworld, no Florida suntanning. You may not even be able to pass through the US on your way elsewhere. (Vancouver to Australia refuels in Hawaii).

As for getting a green card - no education, no in demand skills, … Being white and english-speaking does not count for much. Basically he’s in the same line as anyone from Mexico or points south who has a seester in the USA. It’s a pretty long line.

He’s probably better off trying to do the 6-month “work your way around” visas that places like New Zealand (and Australia?) offer to the unattached younger tourists. But - the demand for untrained workers is pretty low compared to huge supply in the USA.

I know that visitors from the US to Canada can get a one year work permit at the border just by asking for it. I assume this is reciprocal. But that is entirely different from an immigrant visa.

Depends what job the work permit is for. See and

My only experience has been with post-docs; I thought it was general.

Best is to get a job with a company in Canada then transfer to the USA. I worked for Starwood and this happend constantly. The Canadians were always getting jobs here.

It especially irked me when I applied for a job in Canada and got it only twice to be denied by the Canadians who said, “If a Canadian can do a job we don’t give it to an American.”

At my last job with Starwood I can name your off the top of my head four Canadians who were in high paying jobs and they got them by transfering. It’s very easy to get in the USA if you’re job says OK.

Not so on the reverse.

I live in a building with immigrants from Poland and the Czech Republic who don’t work. How they get in I don’t know but everyone of them is here LEGALLY. They are relatives of someone.

And as I said, these people are not illegal, the US Immigration law is lax toward families. Or look at actors, Michael J Fox says he just came here and went on interviews till someone hired him. Then he went about staying permenently.

There was an item in the news about a fellow who was working for a company in the USA. He had no formal education, but apparently was pretty expert at his specialized computer field. he had been in the USA on 1-year permits for 17 years; went back to visit family in Vancouver, and the border guard denied him renetry because he was feeling grouchy. the guy was told - “It’s one year permits, you have no business being here 17 years”. The comment was also that the program was for specialized technical people, not high-school grads. Suddenly he has to arrange to sell his house and move, with no right to re-enter the USA to do so.

The discussion suggested his employer had liked the 1-year-permit thing, because it meant the guy culdn’t up and quit and work for someone else in the USA. Also, they were not inclined to start the long and tricky paperwork to get him a visa, and it would still take maybe 6 months to process; easier to hire an American replacement or someone already on an H1B.

Canada is only starting to emphasize job skills and training over family ties as an immigration criteria. The other problem we have is refugees; they recently imposed visa requirements on Mexico and other points. People know if they can get here, they claim refugee status no matter how bogus, and it can be years before they are sent back - which often turns into permanent stay.

Depending on company size, the “long and tricky paperwork” consists of sending the employee’s passport, three copies of the company’s financial report for the last year, and a letter from HR saying that he’s been with the company since X-XX-XXXX (that being more than two years) to the US embassy. When I had to do that, I got the passport back with the Visa three days later.

It wouldn’t be the first time I see someone lose an employee or business because they were afraid to tackle “long and tricky paperwork” which was neither long nor complicated.