U.S. Permanent Residency (Green Card) Regulations for Canadian Citizens
Exception for American Indians Born in Canada
An exceptional scenario exists for American Indians born in Canada. These individuals are acknowledged to possess the inherent right to enter the United States. After substantiating their lineage, they can even apply for a U.S. green card. This provision extends to all Canadians born with 50% or more American Indian ancestry.
Navigating from Canadian TN Visa to U.S. Green Card
Operating under the framework of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Canadian and Mexican professionals in specific occupations can seek TN status with a job offer from a U.S. employer. This status can be renewed every three years, and there’s no maximum limit on renewals. A designated list of qualifying professions is maintained by the U.S. government.
While residing in the U.S. on a TN visa, pursuing a green card might not be permissible. Unlike certain visas like the H-1B that allow “dual intent,” which combines temporary stay plans with green card aspirations, the TN visa does not accommodate this duality. In such cases, the optimal strategy is often to request your current employer to petition for an H-1B visa, subsequently paving the way for pursuing U.S. permanent residency.
Green Card Application for American Indians from Canada
For individuals eligible for a U.S. green card due to their American Indian lineage and Canadian birth, initiating the process involves contacting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office and scheduling an appointment via their Contact Center.
Entry into the U.S. by land border is possible without a visa or passport, provided you possess your tribal identity card to present to the CBP Officer. Air travel to the U.S., however, mandates possession of a passport.
During your USCIS appointment, you must request the creation of a permanent residence admission record. No specific application form is required for this circumstance, and no fee is applicable. Alongside this request, the following documents should be submitted to USCIS:
- Two passport-style photographs
- Copy of government-issued photo identification
- Copy of the long-form version of your Canadian birth certificate
- Documents establishing American Indian lineage, such as tribal records, parental and/or grandparental birth certificates, and an original Letter of Ancestry from the agency now known as Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).
U.S. Green Cards for Other Canadian Citizens
For non-Indian Canadian citizens, the process of seeking permanent residence in the U.S. is analogous to citizens of other foreign countries. Common routes include obtaining a job offer in the U.S. or having close family ties to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
A notable advantage for Canadian citizens is their ease of legal entry into the U.S. This legal entry simplifies the process for those who subsequently become eligible for a green card, such as through marriage to a U.S. citizen. It eliminates the necessity of leaving the U.S. while applying for the green card. However, it’s essential to remain cautious of visa fraud, which involves misrepresenting intentions to border officers about the purpose of the visit.
Seek Legal Counsel from an Experienced Immigration Lawyer
If you’re a Canadian citizen aspiring for U.S. permanent residency, seeking guidance from an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer is recommended. An attorney can offer insights into the most efficient path to securing permanent residency and assist in preparing the requisite documentation and evidence for a successful application.