Citizens of Canada are visa-exempt, meaning that they do not require a nonimmigrant visa when traveling to the United States. There are very few categories where a Canadian citizen will be required to obtain a nonimmigrant visa for temporary travel to the US.
Canadians seeking to enter the US to engage in trade or investment are required to obtain what is called an “E-visa.” E-visas are categorized into two main purposes: Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2), and are available for citizens of select Treaty Countries. In order to fall into one of these categories, the US Department of State provides that you must be coming to the United States to:
- Engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the US and the treaty country; or
- Develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.
Some examples of types of enterprises that constitute trade under E visa provisions include international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, and communications.
Citizens of Canada who are applying for an E-visa but are otherwise inadmissible to the US must obtain both a visa and waiver of inadmissibility. When filing, an applicant must submit both the e-visa application and Form I-192, for advanced permission to enter the US as a nonimmigrant, at a US consulate. Although there is no specific format required, a visa applicant must note within his or her application of the applicable ground of inadmissibility and documentation of eligibility for a waiver. Next, the applicant must attend his or her visa interview, where the consular officer will determine whether the applicant qualifies for the e-visa but for his or her ground of inadmissibility. After this determination, the consular officer will then submit the Form I-192 to the Admissibility Review Office (“ARO”), and in favorable circumstances, will submit an initial recommendation of approval.
It is important that e-visa applicants subject to inadmissibility file the application and waiver request as early as possible prior to planned travel or intended business: the processing time between the moment the consular officer submits the I-192 recommendation, the ARO’s adjudication and approval of a waiver, and the final issuance of such visa and waiver may take weeks to months. Ultimately, this “waiting period” may affect the trader’s or investor’s business in the US.
Lastly, e-visa holders must keep in mind that their US admittance is only permissible for the time period stated on the waiver. Waivers are generally issued for a period of one year, with the maximum validity period of five years. This means that, after the five-year period has lapsed, e-visa holders must return to his or her home country and submit a subsequent waiver application in order to again enter the US to conduct business. This process may become tricky or confusing for some. In order to avoid falling out of admissible status and violating any US immigration laws, speak to an experienced immigration attorney to assist with your visa application and waiver form.