Immigrating to the US from Canada

Find out more about the process of legal immigration from Canada to the United States including U.S. visas, documents needed, and the application process.

If you are considering making a move to the United States, call Total Law on 0333 305 9375 for a confidential discussion about how we can help you and your loved ones settle in the United States.

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    Immigrating to the US from Canada

    Deciding to immigrate from Canada to the US can be a very exciting, yet daunting experience. There is such a variety of visas and applications to consider to make sure that you can enter the country legally and permanently. It is so important that you get this part of the process done correctly, as it will affect you and your family’s ability to access healthcare, education, and jobs, as well as making sure that you aren’t removed from the country for being there illegally.

    With almost 100,000 applications being declined to move to the United States every year, it’s no surprise that it can be quite difficult to make it your permanent residence. You should make sure you apply based on the most appropriate route for your personal circumstances, such as your financial position, your intentions, your family, and your career.

    Therefore, it is in your best interest to work alongside an experienced immigration lawyer to increase your chances of having a successful application. The process is complex, and some visas and immigration routes have quotas, meaning that you could potentially end up waiting for several years for your application to be accepted. You will need to mentally prepare yourself for what could be a very long process, but it will be worth it, in the end, to get to where you want to be!

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    How to immigrate from Canada to the US

    While there are around about 185 different types of US visas, they predominantly fall into two different categories:

    • Non-immigrant visas: These are the visas that you will want to avoid if you are looking to immigrate to the US, as they are for temporary stays such as family visits, study, tourism, business, and work or transit.
    • Immigrant visas: These are the visas that you will want to apply for, as they are for permanent residence in the US.

    Family-related visas are one of the many options. Some individuals may qualify for permanent residency in the US based on their personal relationships with a US citizen, or a holder of a US family-based green card. For immediate family members, there is no limit on the visas available, which could mean a faster-approved application. Parents and children of US citizens may also find their applications fast-tracked and less complicated.



    For those who do not have any family ties to the US, it may be possible to move due to the basis of your job. There are employment-based preference visas that may be relevant based on your personal circumstances and career history. If your career is one that is well sought-after, such as someone in the medical field, your application may be processed quickly and successfully, on the basis that you will be bringing your expertise to the US.

    You may also have a successful application based on the principles of ‘the luck of the draw’ within the diversity visa program, also known as the green card lottery. This is a program that allows 55,000 individuals an immigrant visa annually, by randomly selecting their names from a pool. Approximately 13 million people applied for the lottery in 2020, and with only 55,000 places available, the success rate is less than 1%, so you would need to be incredibly lucky!

    Another way to gain permanent residence within the U.S. is if you are seeking asylum, or have been granted refugee status.

    Immigrant Visa Categories


    Immediate Relative / Family-Sponsored Visas Visa Category
    Spouse of US citizenIR1, CR1
    Spouse of US citizen awaiting approval of I-130 immigrant petitionK3
    Fiancée VisaK1
    Intercountry adoption of an orphan by a US citizenIR3, IH3, IR4, IH4
    Certain family members of US citizensIR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4
    Certain family members of Green CardholdersF2A, F2B


    Employer-Sponsored / Employment Visas Visa Category
    In order of preference from most desirable to least desirable, employment-based immigrant visas are granted in the following order:

    • Priority workers
    • Professionals with advanced degrees, and/or persons of exceptional ability
    • Professionals and other workers 
    • Certain special immigrant workers
    • Employment investors and/or creators of other employment opportunities
    E1, E2, E3, EW3, C5, T5, R5, I5, S (multiple types)
    Religious workersSD, SR
    Iraqi or Afghan translators/interpretersSI
    Iraqi or Afghan workers who have worked on behalf of the US GovernmentSQ


    Other Immigrant Visas Visa Category
    Diversity immigrant visa DV
    Returning residentSB


    American train stations

    Non-Immigrant Visas 


    Purpose of TravelVisa Category
    Athlete (amateur or professional) competing for prize moneyB1
    Au pair / NannyJ
    Australian professional specialtyE3
    Border Crossing Card (Mexico)BCC
    Business visitor B1
    CNMI- Only transitional workerCW1
    Crew-member D
    Diplomat or foreign government officialA
    Domestic employee or nanny accompanying a foreign national employerB1
    An employee of a designated international organization or NATOG1 – G5, NATO
    Exchange visitorJ
    Foreign military personnel stationed in the USA-2, NATO1-6
    Foreign national with extraordinary abilities in athletics, arts, business, education and/or sciences O
    Free Trade Agreement (FTA) professional 

    – Chile / Singapore 

    H1, B1
    International cultural exchange visitorB2
    Intra-Company transfereeL
    Medical treatment provider or visitorB2
    Media / JournalistI
    NAFTA professional worker
    – Mexico / Canada
    TN, TD
    Performing athlete, artist, or entertainerP
    PhysicianJ, H1B
    Professor, scholar, teacherJ
    Religious workerR
    Specialty occupation in fields requiring highly specialized knowledgeH1B
    – Academic / Vocational 
    F, M
    Temporary agricultural workerH2A
    Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal natureH2B
    Tourism or vacationB2
    Training in a program not primarily for workH3
    Treaty trader / Treaty investorE
    Transiting to the USC
    Victim of criminal activity U
    Victim of human traffickingT
    Non-immigrant visa for spouse and children of a lawful permanent residentV


    What are the requirements for immigrating to the US?

    Each application is relatively complex and requires a substantial amount of documentation and information. Each visa will have its own specifications, so the requirements will vary, depending on your desired visa.

    As a generalization, some of the requirements for immigration may include:

    • Meeting the age requirements of your chosen visa
    • Meeting the financial requirements of your chosen visa, and providing evidence of your finances
    • Providing proof of relationships to a US citizen, which can be by showing a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or civil partner certificate
    • An approved petition from a relative who is sponsoring you to go to the US (where relevant)

    What documents are required?

    The following documents may need to be included in your U.S. visa application:

    • A copy of a medical certificate proving your current health status, and any required vaccinations
    • Any documents relating to an individual’s criminal history (if relevant)
    • Any documents relating to previous immigrant status (if relevant)
    •  The applicant’s valid passport and/or travel documents
    • Proof of a formal job offer in the US (if applying via the employment visa)
    • Letter from your sponsor organization outlining the nature of your employment
    • Notarized and certified translations of all official documents that were not originally in English

    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance on your U.S. Visa. Contact Us

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      What are some factors that would prevent immigrating to the US?

      Not only do you need to meet the eligibility requirements to successfully immigrate to the US, but you also have to demonstrate that you are not inadmissible. You may be prevented from immigrating to the US if any of the following apply to you:

      • You have a communicable disease
      • You have a mental or physical disorder that could threaten public health
      • You have a history of drug abuse or addiction
      • You have a record of drug trafficking
      • You have a conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude
      • You have a history of criminal convictions
      • You have intentions and/or a history of committing espionage or terrorism
      • You have participated in Nazi persecution, genocide, torture, or extrajudicial killings
      • You are in violation of US immigration law



      However, if you fall into any of the above categories it does not necessarily mean that you will be prevented from immigrating to the US. Speak to an immigration lawyer at Total Law, and you may find that you have the opportunity to demonstrate your eligibility, in spite of falling into one of the preventative categories.

      Regardless of the type of visa you select for your circumstances, the best step is to get in touch with the team at Total Law, so you know that you are guaranteed the right path, and stand for a much higher success rate for your immigration application. You can contact us seven days a week, either on the phone or by using the online chat function to speak with one of our client care agents.

      If you have any questions about immigrating to the United States, our team is happy to assist. Contact Us

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        Who can apply for a green card?

        The green card is also known as holding Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) in the US, and there are several ways in which you can apply for one. A green card is not the same as obtaining US citizenship, but it will give you more rights than if you just remained on your visa.

        Green card through family
        You may be eligible to apply for a green card through your family if you qualify for any of the following criteria:

        • You are the immediate relative of a US citizen
        • You are another relative of a US citizen or green card holder
        • You are the fiancé(e) of a US citizen or the dependent child of the fiancé(e)
        •  You are the widower of a US citizen
        • You are the victim of abuse from a spouse, child, or parent of a US citizen

        Green card through employment
        You may be eligible to apply for a green card through employment if you qualify for any of the following criteria:

        • If you are an immigrant worker (preference system)
        • If you have a physician national interest waiver. This is for physicians who agree to work time in an underprivileged designated area
        • If you are an immigrant investor. This is for eligible individuals who intend to invest at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise, or $500,000 in an area of targeted employment.


        U.S. immigration

        Green card as a special immigrant
        You may be eligible to apply for a green card as a special immigrant if you qualify for any of the following criteria:

        • If you are a religious worker
        • If you are a special immigrant juvenile
        • If you are an eligible national from Afghanistan or Iraq
        • If you are an international broadcaster
        • If you are an employee of an international organization or a family member of one
        • If you are a NATO-6 employee or a family member of one

        Green card through refugee or asylee status
        There are routes available to individuals seeking international protection. You may be eligible to apply for a green card through refugee or asylee status if you qualify for any of the following criteria:

        • If you are an asylee (an individual who was granted asylum status at least one year ago)
        •  If you are a refugee

        Green card for human trafficking and crime victims
        You may be eligible to apply for a green card for human trafficking or crime victims if you qualify for any of the following criteria:

        • If you are the victim of human trafficking and are holding a T visa
        • If you are the victim of a crime and are holding a U visa

        Green card through other categories
        You may qualify for a green card under any of the following categories

        • Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF – for eligible Liberian nationals)
        • Diversity immigrant visa program (these are the 55,000 applicants chosen at random in the green card lottery)
        • Cuban Adjustment Act (for eligible Cuban natives)
        • A victim of abuse under the Cuban Adjustment act
        • A spouse or child of a victim of abuse under the Cuban Adjustment Act
        • Dependents of LPR holders who were granted a green card on the basis of that Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA)
        • A victim of abuse under the HRIFA

        Green card through the registry
        Individuals who have resided in the United States continuously since 1972 may be able to apply for a green card, based on the longevity of their stay and their contributions back into the country.

        How do I get my belongings to the US?

        Depending on which part of Canada you are from, and which part of the United States you would like to make your new forever-home, will change the best route in which to transfer your precious belongings. It is certainly an option to hire a moving truck and drive yourself across the borders. However, if you consider the logistics if, for example, moving from the Northwest Territory to Texas, you’re looking at a distance of approximately 4,029kms (2503.505miles), then you’re looking at quite the commute! It is best to consider some options locally before deciding which is the best path to take.

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