How to Expand or Relocate a Canadian Business to America
Moving From Canada to the USA for Business
The following material is about moving a business from Canada to the USA and about how to enter the USA as a Canadian citizen in order to start a business in America.
Immigration, Visas, and Business Changes in America
Canadians often ask how they might immigrate to the United States and start a business in America. This has become a more important question ever since American security was shaken by 9/11, Mexico/USA border problems, and intermittent immigration bans into the US.
Under the Donald Trump presidency of 2017 through 2020, major immigration policy changes were made to requirements for obtaining a visa in order to operate a business in America.
The change was the requirement for immigrants to score 30 points on a very difficult pre-entry examination, as part of the Cotton-Purdue RAISE Act of 2017. The act was expected to pass before the autumn of 2017 and if it failed, an Executive Order for its passage was expected.
This change seemed to sharply divide those who can enter the USA and obtain a visa and eventually a green card and those who cannot.
The average ideal candidate, including Canadians is one who:
- Is between 26 and 30 years of age. The older you are the fewer points you score, and age 50 scores no points.
- Possesses an earned PhD. This PhD qualifies for 13 points and a high school diploma scores only one point. Lesser amounts of education score no points.
- Invests $1,800,000 (12 points) in America for business purposes, and at least $1,300,000.
- Has won an Olympic medal in the last eight years (15 points) or Nobel Prize (25 points).
- If not starting a business, has an American job offer at $155,800 yearly (13 points) or more.
- Speaks fluent English.
It takes a substantial amount of money to enter the United States from other countries to start a business.
Current Immigration Rules for Bringing Business to America
Until the RAISE Act become law, to enter America to start a business according to current regulations, a Canadian must:
- Prove that they have either least $500,000 to $1,000,000 in American dollars (USD) for business purposes in pursuit of an EB-5 Investment Green Card; or $50,000 to $250,000 American dollars for the E-2 Visa. The amount in either case would be increased under the RAISE Law to $1.3 million to $1.8 million USD.
- Plan a business that will clearly increase the American Economy (no nonprofits allowed).
- Create 10 permanent full-time paycheck jobs for people that are already either US Citizens or Permanent Residents (green card holders) and are not the spouse or dependents of the person pursuing the visa for business purposes.
- Show intent to become a Permanent Resident or US Citizen. Provisions can be made for the immigration of spouse and dependents in the immigration package as well, but they cannot be workers in the 10 new full-time jobs created.
Business Related Immigration Visas to the US
Business and work related Visas to America are available to Canadians in the following specific categories only (those for business are in bold print):
- US H1-B Visas
- US H2-A and H-2B Visas
- US L1 Visa
- US E1 Treaty Trader Visas
- US E2 Treaty Investor Visas
- US E3 Australian Special Occupation Visas
- US EB2 Visa: This visa is for people who are very talented and working in the arts, sciences, or business and can do so in America. The visa also covers people who have advanced degrees in medicine, law, a PhD and others. Foreign doctors (for this article, Canadian doctors) may have this visa if they will be practicing in an officially under-served area in America. A business owner may be able to qualify for an EB2 Green Card if their business will significantly help the US.
- US EB3 Visas
- US EB5 Investment Green Card: This certification is most specifically for starting a business in the US.
- Employment-based Green Card
- US Intern Work and Travel Program
- US Student Work and Travel Program
E2 Visa is a Business Bargain
The E2 is great, because it is
- Renewable indefinitely and
- Requires a smaller investment than does the EB5 green card, as little as $50,000.00 to $250,000.00. This is more manageable than the previous $500,000 to $1,000,000 needed for the EB5.
Trade and Investor Entry
The US E1 Treaty Trader Visa is available to Canadians that plan to live in the US and facilitate trade with Canada. This is allowed because of a related treaty established between Canada and the USA on January 1, 1993. This may become more important during the Trump Administration of 2017 - 2020, in which programs to facilitate women-owned businesses in Canada and USA, in partnership, became prominent.
The US E2 Treaty Investor Visa is for those that wish to come in to invest in an already-established American business and is also available by the same treaty (1993 for Canadians, mentioned above).
The investment must already have been made before the investor applies for this Visa and the investor must show that he or she is a Supervisor, Executive, or Specialist in the company and also that the company is not his or her sole means of support. (Consult an attorney for greater detail regarding these visas.)
The US EB5 Investment Green Card allowing immigration into America is for individuals, including Canadians, that specifically want and have clear plans to invest in the creation of a new commercial enterprise. This is the green card for starting a business in any US State.
Eligibility Factors Related to Business
Eligibility for entrance into the USA for business expansion or startup is based on the Canadian applicant's serious intent to start a commercial enterprise that will:
1) Clearly benefit the US economy and
2) Create jobs for at least 10 individuals in the categories of a) permanent resident or b) US citizen.
Family members cannot be included and those with no or only temporary Visas cannot be included. Employees cannot be Independent Contractors, Temporary Workers, or Casual Labor; they must receive paychecks with all the required taxes and any other deductions legally required withheld (check with an attorney in the US State).
Jobs must be full-time, at least 35 hours every week. You must pay Unemployment Insurance premiums on any job 35 hours or more per week, so no shortcuts are allowed.
3) A minimum of $1,000,000 USD to invest up front, but in cases of federally "targeted employment", the amount is $500,000 USD. "Targeted employment" means "in areas of the country where unemployment is at least 150% of the national average."
For example, if national unemployment is 7.6%, then the targeted area of unemployment would be at around 11.4%. Current unemployment rates can be found at the website of the US Department of Labor.
The incoming foreign business must be one that America needs and that will create at least 10 permanent full-time jobs. This means 10 permanent full-time jobs in an Industry that benefits the country and this might include wind turbine manufacturing according to DOL projections through 2024. Sustainability and alternative energies are great for incoming businesses.
- Note: Immigrating to expand a Canadian business may also qualify as a new business if it is increased by at least 40% in net worth or 40% of the current number of employees.
- Note: The 10 new jobs created do not need to exist the first year, but they should show up clearly on the required Business Plan in the three-year projections section. Many plans show a 3-year, a 5-year, and a 10-year set of projections.
Approved American Jobs that Canadians are Permitted to Fill
- P-1 Visas: Athletes and Entertainment Groups
- 0-1 Visas: Extraordinary Ability in science, arts, business, education, entertainment, or athletics. These must be major award winners in the Olympics, the Nobel Prize, an Emmy, Ivy League University Awards, and high visibility Fellowships).
- R-1 Visas: Religious Workers
- TN Visas: NAFTA Temporary Work Permit
- I Visas: Media Workers
- US Medical Professions: 1) All others besides nurses and 2)Registered Nurses (RNs) particularly.
Legal Information: Green Cards
- USCIS - Green Card Through Investment - EB5 Visa
You must invest $1,000,000, or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural area). In return, USCIS may grant conditional permanent residence to the individual.
- USCIS - Green Card Through a Job Offer (Not a business)
Other Visas and Alternative Pathways
Emigrating into the United States in order to begin a business in any of the 50 states with less funding than required by USEB5 can follow the same requirements as entering in order to work for someone else to receive a Green Card.
The pathway that offers the greatest hope for success in this case is to follow that immigration route, plan your business while you work, and after receiving a Green Card, establish the business.
Banks and other lenders may not wish to lend business startup money to an individual that is not a green-card permanent resident at the time.
Many Russian, Ukrainian, and Pakistani families have chosen the employment Green Card route to buiness ownership successfully over the last several years in certain Ohio abnd I have seen them become very successful. In fact, Pakistanis have become extremely successful in business ownership within dining and accommodations businesses in my market area in Central Ohio.
- “115th Congress, S. 354: RAISE Act.” www.GovTrack.us. 2017. August 8, 2017 <https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s354>
- Fox, J. The Past, Present and Future of U.S. Immigration, Bloomberg View. August 8, 2017. www.bloombergquint.com/opinion/2017/08/07/the-past-present-and-future-of-u-s-immigration Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- Ravishankar, R. A. Refugee entrepreneurs 'keep business alive' in upstate New York. UPI. August 8, 2017. www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/08/08/Refugee-entrepreneurs-keep-business-alive-in-upstate-New-York/5411502198507/ Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- Saphir, A. Check your math, central banker says: less immigration equals less growth. Business Insider. Reuters. August 9, 2017. www.businessinsider.com/r-check-your-math-central-banker-says-less-immigration-equals-less-growth-2017-8 Retrieved August 9, 2017.
Questions & Answers
© 2009 Patty Inglish MS