Most Canadians enter the United States on a visa waiver program (VWP). Many Canadians, however, get tripped up and inadvertently violate U.S. immigration laws due to a lack of understanding of the VWP. The VWP is meant for short trips to the U.S. with a promise from the Canadian that he or she intends to return to Canada.

If the Canadian marries a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident, applies for work here or wants to study or open a business, they should not enter on the VWP. Instead, they should seek a visa. Your best strategy may be counter-intuitive or not very obvious. Either way, if you know you want to the stay in the U.S. it is important to contact our office for a consultation. We work with many Canadians who have already gotten themselves into problems or who are on the verge of doing so. We can help you navigate through the user unfriendly system of U.S. immigration. Contact our office to work with a team of attorneys with experience working with Canadians.

What Type of Visa Do You Need?

Before contacting the U.S. Department of State to obtain a visa, you have to know what type of visa you need. There are many different types of visas that are available for Canadians who wish to stay in Los Angeles. Here are a few different types of visas and what they are used for:

  • Visitor visa: There are nonimmigrant visas for temporary stays and immigrant visas for permanent residence. Visa category B-1 is for temporary business-related visits. Visa category B-2 is for tourism, pleasure, and short visits.
  • Employment visa: Anyone who wishes to work in Los Angeles temporarily as a lawful nonimmigrant must apply for an employment visa.
  • Study and exchange: There are student visas (F, M) and exchange visitor visas (J) available for Canadians who wish to study here in Los Angeles.

How to Get the Visa You Need

The steps you need to follow to obtain a visa may vary depending upon the type of visa you need and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. The first step is the online application. There are applications for each type of visa available on the official Department of State website. You will need to fill it out and print it out to bring with you to your interview.

You will also need a photo of yourself to attach to the online application. You will then need to schedule an appointment for your visa. Typically, you have to interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Canada, but it is sometimes possible to schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate here if you are already in the United States.

Before your interview, you should gather the proper documentation. You will need a passport, your application, your application fee, and a photo. Some applicants also need documentation that explains the purpose of their trip, their intentions here in Los Angeles, and proof that they can pay for the trip. Contact an experienced Los Angeles immigration law attorney for more information.

The consular officers at the offices of the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles are responsible for assisting Canadians who wish to obtain a Canadian passport, proof of citizenship, or documentation to cross the border. Canadians who need a visa to live or work in Los Angeles, however, will have to work directly with the U.S. Department of State.