It is not unusual for Canadian entrepreneurs to come up with an idea for a business in the US from Canada. Many Canadian businesses want to expand to the US or have already registered their presence in US markets. This is because the US market is worth so much more than Canada’s.
The U.S. market capitalization is one of the highest in the world because of its strong purchasing power and high consumption economy. This makes it an attractive place for many businesses to start up, and Canadians who live in the neighboring country and want to grow their businesses in the huge, free-market economy want to bring them to the U.S.
Potential for Canada
Canada has a lot of natural resources in North America and shares the longest border with the United States. Because they are neighbors, have a highly educated population, and have many bilateral treaties with the United States, this gives Canadians a lot of opportunities to run businesses on both sides of the border.
The history of trade between the US and Canada shows that this could happen. The US and Canada have one of the strongest business relationships in the world, which is expected to create millions of jobs in both countries. The United States and Canada traded goods and services worth more than $600 billion (USD) in the past year alone. Each country is the other’s biggest export market in a certain field, and more than 30 U.S. states see Canada as their biggest export market. Canada is also the biggest energy exporter to the U.S.
Laws and regulations
The huge amount of trade and business stated above would not be possible without specific legal support. This is where the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement comes in: As of July 1, 2020, the United States-Mexico-Canada deal (USMCA) took the place of NAFTA as the free trade deal for North America.
The main goal of USMCA is to protect intellectual property rights, create jobs, boost trade in agriculture, bring new investments to important manufacturing sectors, and make sure that workers are better protected. This will also include making labor and environmental standards that can be enforced, which will improve and expand digital trade protections. These are some of the most important places where the new standard for U.S. trade deals is set.
They have also worked together with the G7 and G20 treaties of political and industrialized liberal economic forums. This may have led to more future-proof business deals that make it impossible for both countries to do business or use the market without working with each other.
Possible work visa for Canadians
Now comes the important part of U.S. immigration: choosing the right visa scheme based on your future goals and current financial situation is the first and most important step in starting a business in the U.S. For Canadian citizens wanting to start a business, the following specific and general visas are available:
Business In The US From Canada
The US H1-B visa is an employment visa that an employer sponsors. The foreign worker will work for the company, and there are yearly limits that make it very competitive.
L1 Visa: This visa brings executives, managers, or people with specialized knowledge to the US from a “qualifying organization” outside the US that works for a US-based company.
E1 Visa: A Special Treaty-based Trader Visa lets a citizen of a treaty country come to the United States to trade and do business with other countries.
E2 Visa: These are special investor visas based on treaties. They are only for people of a certain country that agreed to do business with the United States.
EB2 Visa: This is another type of employment-based green card visa that lets you live in the US permanently—professionals with high degrees from universities who are very good at business, the arts, or science. If the business will make a big difference in the economy, the owner may be able to apply.
EB3 Visa: This is another option for people who want to come to the U.S. on an employment-based (EB) green card. There are professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled people in this group.
EB5 Visa: This type of visa is an investment green card visa. This lets you start a business in the US, but only if certain conditions are met.
Popular visa program
So, anyone can get into the U.S. through any of those extended immigration choices. However, the most common and even popular business visa programs chosen by Canadians are:
- Canadians can get an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.
- How to Get an EB-5 Green Card In Canada
- H-1B Visa for entrepreneurs
The E-2 visa
A step-by-step guide for getting an E-2 visa
For a Canadian investor to get an E-2 visa and start a business in the U.S., they must first put all of their money into the company. By law, that means –
- Setting together a legal business structure (like an LLC, C-Corp, or other type),
- Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the federal government.
- Setting up a bank account for my business. Based on what the business needs.
- It could also mean getting the licenses, permits, and checks that are needed.
- The Small Business Association is a group that can help you get your business off the ground.
Invest in the running business:
Canadians must invest in buying a current business or starting a new one to get an E-2 visa. When someone talks about an “active bona fide business,” they mean that the business has to be making something. Here are some examples of E-2 business:
Any business that makes things or provides services, like
- A tech firm
- Travel and Transportation
- Wholesale or storage
- A retailer or a convenience store
- A gas station
- Medical centre
- To a salon for beautification. Any of these things that it should actively embrace,
The business can’t be inactive, do nothing, or be based on speculation. The investment that every Canadian should make is to take part in the economy in a real way. Real estate investments, like buying and selling homes, and financial investments, like buying and selling stocks, are not considered investments under E2. These are not business activities.
Citizens of treaty countries are the only ones who can get an E2 investor visa. U.S. foreign treaties form the basis of the E2 program. Because of this, visas are only given to citizens of countries with which the U.S. has such treaties.
Important Note –
Before applying for the visa, you should put your money into companies. In other words, the U.S. Department of State requires all E-2 applicants to risk their money before they apply. That is, the company has to be bought or fully set up before it can send in its E2 application. But the visa isn’t sure just because you have money invested. For example, if you have $100,000 in the bank and want to buy a business or start your own, that won’t be enough to get an E-2 visa.
How to Get an EB-5 Visa
The EB-5 is an investment-based green card visa. As long as an immigrant has one, they can start and run a business in the U.S.
Requirements for visas:
For the EB5 program, the person applying for a visa must:
- First, you have to put at least close to $1 million into a business in the Targeted Employment Area or more than $1 million into a new business outside of the Targeted Employment Area.
- Maintaining conditions: create and keep at least ten full-time jobs for Americans to meet the requirements.
- If you don’t follow these rules, the conditional nature of the Green Card (two-year conditional green card) given to EB5-qualified applications means that the card could be taken away.
Duration and permanence
With a green card, the EB5 program gives you a straight way to become a permanent resident. If someone has a green card, they can stay in the US forever as long as they meet the requirements for their visa and either become a citizen or keep their permanent residency status.
Most Americans think that the EB5 Immigrant Investor Program is better than the H1B program. Because the EB5 program brings in billions of dollars in foreign investments and creates thousands of jobs in the US, while the H1B visa often seems like a threat to the US local labour force, because of this, the EB5 program is not part of the presidential campaigns’ “immigration ban” plans, like the H1b visa was during Trump’s government.
The number of EB5 visas that can be issued each year is limited. Because of this, it is hard to get one because you have to wait a long time after asking for it.
Eb-5 and E-2 visa similarities
Foreigners can come to the United States with either the EB5 visa or the E2 investor visa if they make a big investment in a U.S. business. There are, however, some important similarities and differences between the two programs when it comes to who can participate, how long the programs last, and the money available to donors. They are talked about below;
Important Point: The Legal Status of EB5 vs. E2
The main difference between the two visas is the legal standing they give you. The EB5 visa is a “green card” visa, which means it lets you live in the United States permanently.
The E2 Investor program, on the other hand, is a short-term visa. The E2 visa, on the other hand, can be extended an unlimited number of times as long as the person holding it meets the requirements.
Other requirements for EB5 and E2 investors.
- For both types of visas, you have to put a lot of money into a U.S. business. The least amount of money needed to get an EB5 visa is either $500,000 or $1,000,000, based on the area where the investment is made. For E2 visas, on the other hand, the spending is more flexible because it depends on the specific needs of the business, which are set by the regulatory board.
- Making jobs. On the other hand, the requirements for people applying for an E2 visa are again more flexible. For the EB5 visa, on the other hand, you have to create at least 10 full-time jobs for Americans.
- Business is going on. This is the only area where the person applying for an E2 visa is expected to do more. People with an E2 visa must be actively involved in their business. EB5 applicants whose investments go through the regional centre don’t have to be as active, though.
A lot of the requirements for both the EB5 and the E2 Investor visa are the same. But because the EB5 visa gives you the chance to get a green card, the standards and investments are usually a bit higher.
The H1B visa.
Requirements for a visa.
They have very different needs when it comes to the H1B visa and the other investment visa. Employment is the main goal of the H1B program.
The H-1B program lets US businesses and employers hire temporary foreign workers for jobs that need highly specialized knowledge and higher schooling in the field. Some of the most important requirements for H1B are:
- That there are no Americans able to do the job;
- The applicant has a bachelor’s degree or better (or a degree that is the same in another country).
- Have worked for 12 years.
- Or both worked and done schooling in the same field at the same time.
Length and permanence
This is a temporary non-immigrant visa called an H1B. It is good for three years at first, and it can be extended for another three years. When the maximum stay time runs out, the foreign worker must either leave the United States or get a different type of immigrant status.
Now, we’ll discuss the touchy subject of immigration. This visa alone sparks a huge political debate and even affects presidential campaigns. Yes, the H1B visa is constantly being reviewed to ensure Americans can keep their jobs.
There may always be strict rules about who can get an H1B visa. It was suggested that the America-first strategy should cut in half the number of people who come to the US, but the bill hasn’t been passed yet.
Another type of L1 visa
There is no annual limit on the L-1 visa, but it has many of the same benefits as the H1B visa. The L-1 visa is only for executives, managers, or people with specialized knowledge who are being transferred to the US from a qualifying group in another country by a US company. This is called an inter-company transfer because the US company needs a highly qualified person.
To get an L-1 visa, a person must open a new office in the US and move there to run it. Having a business in the U.S. is the most important requirement for the L1 scheme.
Things to Consider
Finally, there are a few details that come with the big business opportunity for Canadian-Americans. For example, whether you want to get an EB5 or E2 visa to come to the U.S. as an investor or an H1B visa to start working on your business depends on your business goals and needs. But before choosing a plan, you should do a lot of research on visas in the following areas:
- Looking at the good and bad points of each ticket.
- Seeing if you meet the requirements for each type of visa.
- Goals and priorities for business.
- How the economy will be in 5 years.
- Putting together the complete papers needed.
- Looking at the state’s rules and schedules.
The first step in the business immigration process is choosing the right visa for you and your business. Do a lot of research and talk to U.S. immigration lawyers or people in similar Canadian communities who have already been through the whole process. They can help you set up a successful U.S. business.
- Many Canadian entrepreneurs seek business opportunities in the U.S. due to its large market and high purchasing power.
- The extensive trade history and strong business relationship create opportunities for cross-border ventures.
- The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) facilitates trade, protects intellectual property, and strengthens economic ties.
- Various visa options are available for Canadian entrepreneurs to start businesses in the U.S., such as H1-B, L1, E1, E2, EB2, EB3, and EB5 visas.
- The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa and EB-5 Investment-Based Green Card Visa are popular choices for Canadians.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Doing Business in the US from Canada
Why do Canadian entrepreneurs often consider doing business in the United States?
Canadian entrepreneurs are attracted to the larger market size and higher consumer spending in the United States. The U.S. offers significant growth opportunities for businesses.
What is the history of trade between the US and Canada?
The U.S. and Canada have a strong trade relationship, with both countries trading goods and services worth over $600 billion in a recent year. Canada is a major energy exporter to the U.S.
What is the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and how does it support trade between the US and Canada?
USMCA is a free trade deal that replaced NAFTA and aims to protect intellectual property rights, create jobs, boost agriculture trade, and strengthen labor and environmental standards, among other things.
What are the visa options for Canadian entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the US?
Canadian entrepreneurs can choose from various visa options, including the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, EB-5 Investor Visa, H1-B Visa, and more.
What is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, and how can Canadians apply for it?
The E-2 Visa allows Canadian citizens to invest in and run businesses in the U.S. They need to set up a legal business structure, obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), open a business bank account, and invest in an active, bona fide business.
What are the requirements for the EB-5 Investor Visa?
To qualify for the EB-5 visa, an immigrant must invest at least close to $1 million in a business, create and maintain at least ten full-time jobs for Americans, and meet other investment-related criteria.
How does the EB-5 Investor Program differ from the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?
The main difference is that the EB-5 program provides a path to permanent residency (green card), while the E-2 visa is a short-term, renewable visa. EB-5 has higher investment requirements.
What is the H1-B Visa, and how does it differ from investor visas like E-2 and EB-5?
The H1-B Visa is a temporary work visa for highly skilled foreign workers. It is different from investor visas, as its primary purpose is to allow employers to hire foreign talent with specialized knowledge.
What are the political implications of these visa programs, particularly the H1-B and EB-5 visas?
The H1-B visa often becomes a subject of political debate, especially regarding its impact on local job markets. The EB-5 program attracts foreign investments and creates jobs, making it less controversial in this regard.
What factors should Canadian entrepreneurs consider when choosing the right visa for their business goals?
Entrepreneurs should evaluate their business goals, investment capacity, and long-term plans when selecting a visa. They should also research visa requirements, consult immigration experts, and consider the economic and legal aspects of their chosen U.S. state.
Where can I get more information and assistance on the immigration process for starting a business in the U.S. from Canada?
You can seek guidance from U.S. immigration lawyers and connect with Canadian communities that have experience in the U.S. business immigration process. These resources can provide valuable insights and support for your venture.