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Options for H-1B Visa Holders

Options for H-1B Visa Holders

H-1B Visa Holders: Options to Work

This comprehensive CanadaVisa page provides you with an overview of your Canadian work permit options if you hold an H-1B visa in the US.

Navigating Canada’s immigration options can be difficult but we seek to make it as easy for you as possible. Cohen Immigration Law is a leading Canadian immigration law firm with over 45 years of expertise. Please complete our contact form if you wish to schedule a free telephone consultation with our lawyers.


While providing a promising avenue through which skilled foreign nationals can come work in the United States, the H-1B program is plagued with issues, making the US a less viable option for foreign workers. The time limitation on H-1B visas, for example, is a frequent problem; these types of visas can be granted for three years and then can be extended for three additional years, after which point the foreign national must remain outside of the U.S. for at least one full year.

Given these and other problems frequently encountered with H-1B visas, many foreign nationals turn their sights to Canada in terms of their next employment opportunity.

Canada offers several options with respect to work authorization that either have similar eligibility criteria to the H1-B visas, or that present the possibility of the foreign national continuing their career in North America.

These options are summarized as follows:

Global Talent Stream

Global Talent Stream: This is a facilitated work permit option that targets foreign nationals working in the IT sector. Many of the occupations eligible for this work permit constitute “specialty occupation” as defined in the H-1B program, making the transition to a Canadian work permit easier;

Intra-Company Transfers

Intra-Company Transfer: Many of the foreign national on H-1B visas work for multinational companies that have a presence in Canada. Certain categories of workers on H-1B visas can be eligible for a facilitated Canadian work permit through an Intra-Company Transfer;

Intra-Company Transfer Start Up: Foreign nationals working for U.S. companies looking to establish a presence in Canada can be eligible for facilitated work permits that will allow them to work in Canada in order to begin operations of a Canadian branch, subsidiary, or affiliate;

CUSMA (Formerly NAFTA)

CUSMA: Mexican citizens on an H-1B visa in Canada can be eligible for a facilitated work permit through the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement if they are qualified to work in a given occupation and are coming to working Canada in this capacity.

Business Visitors

Business Visitors: H-1B visa holders needing to come to Canada for work-related reasons can qualify as business visitors in certain scenarios and are therefore exempt from the requirement for a work permit.