How to Work Remotely from Canada If Your H1B Expires

Is your H1B visa expiring? Here are your options, including how to work remotely from Canada for a U.S.-based employer.
Office setup with a view of the Canadian cityscape
Estimated read time
13
minutes
Category
Compliance
Written by
Melissa Hamer-Jackson
Published on
April 3, 2024

If you’re an H1B visa holder or have an employee with an H1B that’s expiring, you’re probably wondering - what’s next? Here are some options for continuing employment, including how to work remotely from Canada.

Content at a glance

    Wondering what to do after your (or your employee’s) H1B visa expires? There are numerous options to consider - making it difficult to know which path to take. To help you determine the right option for you, we’ve compiled the best extension options, immigration streams, and work visas for H-1B holders.

    In this article, we’ll explain the easiest ways to continue working in North America if your H1B visa expires, including how to work remotely from Canada. What about remote tech jobs in Canada? We’ll also cover the best options for tech industry employees and employers.

    Ready to learn more about what to do when your H1B visa expires? Keep reading!

    What is an H1B visa?

    An H1B visa is a type of temporary (nonimmigrant) work visa in the United States. The U.S. Government implemented this visa program to help address labor shortages in specialty occupations that require skilled workers.

    The H-1B allows U.S. employers to hire skilled foreign workers to perform specialty occupations for a specific period of time. These workers must have specialized skills and a bachelor’s degree (or higher) related to the specific occupation as a minimum criteria. Alternatively, the worker may have education, specialized training, or experience equivalent to a bachelor’s degree (or higher).

    Specialty occupations in the following fields commonly qualify for an H1B visa.

    • Technology
    • Finance
    • Accounting
    • Science
    • Engineering
    • Architecture
    • Medicine
    • Law
    • Mathematics

    *Please note: the list above is not exhaustive.

    How long is an H1B visa valid?

    As a nonimmigrant visa, the H1B grants temporary employment, allowing foreign workers to work in the United States for a specific period of time. H1B visa holders can typically work in the U.S. for a period of up to 3 years, although extensions may be granted in certain circumstances. That said, extensions cannot generally go beyond a total period of 6 years.

    What happens after a worker’s H-1B visa expires?

    In some cases, when a worker’s H1B visa expires, they may not be able to renew it. For example, if they have reached the maximum 6-year limit or the USCIS does not approve an extension request.

    After a worker’s H-1B visa expires, the foreigner is required to leave the United States. Alternatively, they can pursue another U.S. immigration pathway or explore other options to remain in North America (for instance, moving to Canada).

    If foreign workers stay in the U.S. past their H1B expiration, they may be subject to deportation - and potentially banned from entering the country in the future.

    IMPORTANT TO NOTE: H1B visas are employer-specific. Therefore, the visa becomes invalid if an individual’s employment ends before their H1B expires. A new visa must be obtained to start working for a new employer. To get a new visa, the foreign worker’s new employer must apply for an H-1B on their behalf.

    Can an expired H1B visa be renewed?

    In most cases, an H1B visa expiring after three years can be renewed for an additional three years. However, renewal applications should be submitted before the visa expires. While an expired H1B visa can be renewed, allowing it to lapse before applying for renewal can cause numerous issues. Therefore, employers should apply for an extension six months before the visa expires.

    If an employer doesn’t apply for an extension until after the H1B visa expires, the employee must stop working - and may have to leave the U.S. until the extension is approved.

    If an employer applies for an extension before the visa expires, the employee can continue working for up to 240 days while the renewal is processed. However, if the application is denied, the employee must stop working immediately and leave the country unless they qualify for another immigration stream.

    Is Your H1B Visa Expiring? Here Are Your Options.

    If your H1B visa is expiring after six years without the possibility of an extension approval, there are several options that will allow you to stay in North America. Below are the best options for H1B visa holders who don’t want to return to their home country and wish to remain in North America.

    1. Apply for an H-1B Extension

    In some cases, visa holders may be able to get an extension. There are two options when it comes to extensions. 

    • 1-Year Extension - individuals may receive an unlimited number of one-year H1B extensions.

    • 3-Year Extension - in some circumstances, visa holders may receive a 3-year extension (beyond the 6-year limit).

    2. Reclaim Any Time Spent Outside the U.S.

    Any time (exceeding 24 hours) an employee spends outside the U.S. while they hold an H1B visa does not count towards the 6-year maximum. This time can be reclaimed to extend their visa.

    To reclaim this time, a worker’s employer must file a recapture request on their behalf. Documents that verify the time away must also be submitted as proof. Only time away that is supported by documentation can be recaptured. Required documents may include:

    • Port of Entry Stamps in the employee’s passport
    • Arrival/Departure documents (i.e., Form I-94)
    • Airline tickets, boarding passes, etc.

    3. Apply for a U.S. Employment-Based Green Card

    Various employment-based (EB) Green Cards are available for individuals who have worked in the U.S. and want to become permanent residents. These Green Cards are typically available to skilled workers, managers and executives, and those with exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.

    The most common EB Green Card options for H-1B visa holders include:

    • EB-1
    • EB-2
    • EB-3

    4. ‘Buy Time’ to Explore Other Options with a Travel Visa

    For employees who aren’t sure what path to take but wish to remain in the U.S., applying for a travel visa is another option. A travel visa will allow them to stay in the country while exploring other immigration pathways. The significance of applying for a travel visa is that the employee can remain in the U.S. legally without compromising future applications.

    5. Spend a Year Abroad

    Employees can reset their 6-year H1B time limit by leaving the U.S. and residing abroad for an entire year. After spending a year abroad, the individual’s employer can apply for a new visa, resetting the 6-year limit.

    Location Suggestion: Canada is close in proximity to the U.S. (and easy to get to), making it one of the best places to spend a year abroad.

    6. Move to Canada

    For those who want to remain in North America, a great option is to move to Canada! There are several pathways that allow skilled workers to reside and work in Canada, including options for working remotely for an international employer. 

    We’ll discuss the best options for H-1B holders below.

    Immigrating to Canada After Your H1B Expires

    Canada’s beautiful landscape, high quality of life, kind and open culture, and welcoming immigration policies make it a top choice for many foreign workers. In addition, Canada shares similar time zones with the U.S., depending on the location, and has a similar culture, which minimizes adjustments. As a result, it is very easy to work remotely from Canada if you want to continue working for your current U.S. employer. As an added benefit, if you’re paid in U.S. dollars, you’ll receive a sort of “bonus” thanks to the high exchange rate.

    So, if your H1B visa is expiring, moving to Canada is a great option!

    To support economic growth, the Canadian Government has committed to welcoming 485,000 permanent residents in 2024. Beginning in 2025, Canada will accept 500,000 permanent residents each year.

    Is Canada good for tech workers?

    If you’re a tech worker in the U.S. with an H1B, you might wonder how Canada stacks up in the technology sector. In recent years, the Canadian Government has made significant contributions to this industry. As a result, Canada has become a booming tech hub that attracts top talent from across the world. This strong position in the tech space, paired with the country’s welcoming immigration policies and high quality of life, makes Canada a great place for tech workers.

    Are you considering moving to Canada after your H1B visa expires? Here are some of the best options for immigration and work visas.

    The Best Canadian Immigration Pathways & Work Permits for H1B Visa Holders

    There are several Canadian immigration pathways and work permits that are suitable for H1B visa holders. The following options are ideal for H-1B holders, as many have eligibility requirements similar to the H1B program. These Canadian immigration pathways and work permits are also often much faster and easier to pursue than a U.S. Green Card. Best of all, these options will allow you to stay in North America while pursuing your career.

    Express Entry

    Through Canada’s Express Entry (an online system the Canadian Government uses to manage immigration applications), skilled foreign workers can apply to obtain permanent residency in Canada.

    The government manages three immigration programs through Express Entry.

    • Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
    • Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
    • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

    Skilled workers with experience in sectors such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, math, trades, etc. are eligible for these programs. 

    In recent months, Express Entry has focused on category-based draws in addition to general draws and provincial nominee-based draws. Currently, there are six categories - French language proficiency, healthcare, STEM occupations, trade, transport, and agriculture. These categories are subject to change, so we encourage you to reach out to us to see whether you qualify. 

    For H-1B holders, the Federal Skilled Worker Program is generally the most suitable, provided you meet the criteria.

    Provincial Nominee Program

    Every Canadian province and territory except Nunavut and Quebec has a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). These programs are designed for individuals who want to live and work in a particular province or territory and have special skills, education, and work experience.

    PNPs are a popular option for H1B holders, especially tech workers, who want to move to Canada. That’s because Provincial Nominee Programs offer the fastest pathway to permanent residency. For tech workers, several dedicated pathways are available, including programs like the BC PNP Tech.

    Please note: each province and territory offers its own PNP streams, each with specific criteria and eligibility requirements.

    Global Talent Stream - Temporary Foreign Worker Program

    The Global Talent Stream (GTS) helps employers in Canada attract and hire highly skilled foreign workers in the IT sector. The GTS is part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

    This work permit is well-suited for H-1B holders, as many occupations eligible for this stream are similar to those suitable for the H1B program. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program - Global Talent Stream is also one of the quickest immigration pathways for foreign workers wanting to come to Canada.

    Intra-Company Transfers - International Mobility Program

    Another excellent option for H1B visa holders who want to immigrate to Canada is an Intra-Company Transfer (ICT). Intra-Company Transfers are available for highly skilled foreign workers under Canada’s International Mobility Program.

    The ICT category allows multinational companies to transfer key personnel to Canada. 

    To qualify for an ICT, the company must have (or wish to establish) a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada. The company must also have the financial capacity to commence business or continue business in Canada. The employee must be an executive or senior manager, functional manager, or have specialized knowledge. The individual must also have worked for the company on a full-time basis for at least one year in the past three years.

    If eligible for an Intra-Company Transfer, employees can receive an LMIA-exempt work permit, which reduces processing times and complexity of the application.

    The initial work permit may be issued for up to 1 year with the possibility of an extension for up to 5 and 7 maximum years, provided that the employee and employer continue to meet the criteria of the program.

    *Please note: the requirements above are not exhaustive.

    H1B Canada

    Employees with work experience in the United States may also qualify for the H1B Canada program. This stream offers an open work permit for U.S. H-1B visa holders and their family members for up to 3 years.

    The H1B Canada pilot program is the best option for U.S. visa holders who want to come to Canada.

    What, exactly, is the H1B visa holder work permit program?

    The H1B visa holder work permit program is an initiative by the Canadian Government to help keep highly skilled workers in North America

    Skilled workers and their families living in the U.S. with a valid H1B visa can apply.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The H1B visa holder work permit pilot program reached its cap of 10,000 applications on July 17, 2023. Currently, no more applications are being accepted. However, experts predict that the Canadian Government could re-open the program based on the initial overwhelming response and success of the current visa holders.

    Digital Nomad Visa

    The Digital Nomad program is ideal for those who wish to continue working for their U.S. employer after their H1B Visa expires while living in and experiencing Canada. The Digital Nomad Visa is perfect for those who can perform their job remotely from any part of the world. 

    The Digital Nomad Visa is similar to a Visitor Visa or Temporary Resident Visa. It allows you to stay in Canada for up to 6 months at a time with the option of additional renewals. 

    Under this program, you must work for an employer based outside of Canada. However, if you find a Canadian employer, you may apply for a Canadian Work Permit to legally work in Canada.

    The pathways above are just a few of the many options available for foreign workers. To learn more about the various Canadian work permits available, check out our article on the types of work permits in Canada.

    If you are considering one of the immigration or work permit options above, you may wonder how this will affect business travel. Let’s take a look.

    Can a worker in Canada still travel to the U.S. for business?

    If you work remotely from Canada for a U.S. company when your H-1B visa expires, you may need to travel back to the U.S. for business. Here’s what you need to know about business travel.

    Canadian citizens typically do not require a visa to conduct temporary business in the United States. Temporary business activities include:

    • Attending business meetings, consultations, conventions, or conferences
    • Negotiating contracts

    However, traveling to the U.S. to complete work outside of these activities is prohibited unless you have a valid U.S. work visa.

    Permanent residents of Canada, on the other hand, must have a nonimmigrant visa to travel back to the U.S. for business. That is unless the individual’s country of citizenship is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the employee is entering the United States for 90 days or less.

    Alternatively, if you are neither a Canadian citizen nor a Permanent Resident, you may wish to apply for a Travel Visa to re-enter the U.S.

    Work Remotely from Canada for Your Current U.S. Employer with the Help of a Canadian Employer of Record (EOR)

    Is your H1B visa expiring, with no option for renewal? Join Canada’s diverse and talented workforce with the help of a Canadian EOR like Thirdsail! 

    Thirdsail’s EOR services will allow you to work for your current employer while remaining in North America.

    Looking at remote tech jobs in Canada? Using an Employer of Record in Canada is an especially attractive option for tech workers, considering Canada’s favorable immigration policies, warm and welcoming culture, and ever-growing presence as a tech hub.

    Keep Your Valuable Employees with the Help of an EOR in Canada

    Are you an international company that wants to keep top talent? Even if your employee’s H-1B visa is expiring, Thirdsail can help you retain valuable employees through our EOR services.

    Contact Thirdsail today to see how we can help.

    Tips for Convincing Your U.S. Employer to Use an EOR to Let You Work Remotely from Canada

    Are you a U.S. tech worker who wants to move to Canada? Below are some tips for convincing your U.S.-based employer to let you work remotely from Canada.

    • Highlight the value you bring to the company.
    • Remind your employer about the challenges (and costs) of recruiting new talent.
    • Learn more about EOR services. Need some information? We’re here to help.
    • Show your employer how easy it is to work with a Canadian EOR like Thirdsail to set you up to work remotely in Canada.

    Need backup? Have your employer contact us. A Thirdsail team member will be happy to explain our services and how we can help them keep you as a valuable employee

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