Cross Border Movement of Business Persons

Temporary Entry into the United States and Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement

A Guide for Canadian Businesspersons

Published by International Trade Canada

6. Non-NAFTA Temporary Entry Visas in the United States

Some occupations are not covered under the NAFTA. A few of these specialty occupations are listed below. For more information on these and other specialty occupation categories, contact the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa or the U.S. Consulate nearest your place of residence (see VII. Additional Information).

Specialty Occupations

If you do not qualify for temporary entry into the United States you may still qualify under existing immigration regulations.

Generally, a specialty occupation is defined as one that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a Bachelor’s degree in the specific specialty. A combination of education and experience and/or specialized training equivalent to a degree is also acceptable.

Your prospective U.S. employer must secure a certified Labour Condition Application (FORM ETA 9035) from the U.S. Employment and Training Administration of the Department of Labor (PDF, 105 Kb). Once obtained, you must then submit an I-129 petition (PDF, 40.3 KB) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval of the I-129 petition, you may apply for temporary entry at any port of entry.

You must meet existing temporary entry immigration requirements (health, safety, security, etc.) before you are issued an I-94 (record of entry document) indicating an H-1B specialty occupation classification. You will also need to present photo identification when applying for entry.

Persons working in a specialty occupation may initially be admitted to the U.S. for three years with possible extensions of up to three additional years. Please refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site for more information.

Performing Artists

Canadian performing artists (e.g. individuals or members of a Canadian entertainment group in a creative field such as music, opera, dance, theatre or the circus), who have a signed contract with an enterprise in the U.S. for single or multiple performances, need a temporary employment visa.

If you are having trouble entering the U.S. as a Canadian performing artist, contact the Canadian Consulate General in New York City at (212) 596-1600.

Medium or Lower-Skilled Workers

The H-2B non-agricultural category for temporary workers can be used by U.S.-based enterprises to hire medium- or lower-skilled workers to perform temporary services or non-agricultural labour within the United States. An H-2B Visa will not be issued if the labour or service displaces U.S. workers capable of performing such services or labour, or if the employment of the temporary worker has an adverse effect on the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.

Your prospective U.S. employer must file an ETA 750 Form, with the local state job service office. The U.S. employer must also demonstrate that the basic recruiting, posting and advertising for qualified U.S. workers have been completed. If labour certification is approved, the prospective employer must then file the petition FORM I-129 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For additional information please refer to the USCIS Web site (PDF, 40.3 KB).

Once the I-129 petition is approved, temporary workers can then apply at a U.S. port of entry and will be issued an I-94 (Record of Entry Document).

The initial period of stay authorized in the U.S. to H-2B temporary workers cannot exceed one year.A maximum of two oneyear extensions may be granted. However, each new I-129 extension petition must be accompanied by a new labour certification.

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