How to emigrate to the US (from Canada with an Engineering degree)

I gather from the title, that this post will only be useful for a handful of people.  However, the people immediately surrounding me are mostly engineers, so instructions on how to get a job in the US might be useful.

Since Canada, the US and Mexico are under NAFTA, people with special skills can obtain TN (Trade NAFTA) visa to work in other countries.  Specifically, there is a list of degrees (which includes librarians) which will allow you to do this.  If you have that degree, and and offer of employment, you can walk up to the border and just apply.  Interestingly, if you were a licenced member of PEO (Professional Engineers of Ontario), but did not hold an engineering degree, you could apply for a TN visa.

UWaterloo has a large number of co-ops going to the US to work.  This is their list of items required to obtain a TN visa.  I’ve added some additional notes from the official TN NAFTA website as well.

Items required to apply for the TN-1 visa:

  1. You must have your degree (hard copy in your hand).   Read:  bring your diploma.
  2. Offer letter from your U.S.A employer listing the job title from the Approved Occupation List.  The letter is a letter from your prospective employer detailing items such as the professional capacity in which you will work in the United States, the purpose of your employment, the nature of the company, your length of stay, and your educational qualifications.
  3. Your Résumé.
  4. Completed application form and an I-94 card.
  5.  $50
  6. Proof of citizenship (passport)
  7. Your university transcripts.  My diploma just says “Bachelor of Applied Science”.  The boarder guard doesn’t know what this means, and would prefer “Bachelor of Applied Science in Materials Engineering”.  I emailed them my transcripts from my phone to clear things up.

I’ll be using this list myself, so this is probably going to be a working blog post.

Update:  2014/10/2

To get a offer letter from your USA employer, you may need to complete a drug screen.  Thus, prior to the drug screen you cannot get a TN visa.  I decided to go to a clinic close to work, and they say they take 24-48h to send the results to the employer.