How Does a Canadian Apply for a Work Visa in the United States?

By Kristina Werden
A work visa is required for all Canadians that wish to work in the Untied States.
passport approval image by timur1970 from

The United States offers several different types of visas for Canadians. One is a temporary work visa intended for Canadians who do not wish to eventually apply to become an American permanent resident. There are several steps involved in applying for a temporary work visa in the United States.

DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application

Complete the electronic visa application, the DS-156 visa application form (See resources). The visa application form will ask questions regarding your citizenship information, passport information, contact information, previous work experience and your educational history. The application must be completed online. After you submit the application, print out the confirmation page. You will have to submit the visa application page with your application package.


Complete the supplemental visa application form. This application asks questions regarding your trip to the United States and why you wish to stay in the country. The application can be downloaded from the United States Department of State website as a PDF file (See resources).


As of May 2010, the United States embassies and consulates are converting over to a new nonimmigrant visa application process. Each Canadian embassy/consulate will be working to convert to this process. For the most up-to-date information, check the United States embassy/consulate website closest to your Canadian residence for information on what visa application to fill out. If they request that you complete the DS-160 visa application, you will not need to complete the DS- 157 or DS-156 visa applications. The DS-160 is an electronic visa application which can be completed on the United States Department of State website (See resources). Remember to print the confirmation page once you submit the application.

National Passport and Return Envelope

You will have to provide your own postage paid retun envelope if you wish to recive your passport in the mail.
Envelope and pen image by Svetlana Kashkina from

You will be required to have a Canadian national passport before you complete the visa application process. The Canadian national passport must be valid for at least six months after your intended date of departure from the United States and contain one blank page for the appropriate visa stamps and stickers. Canadians will also be required to submit their passport to the United States embassy during the visa paperwork processing. In order to receive your passport, you will need to supply a postage-paid return envelope. Otherwise, you will have to return to the United States embassy/consulate to pick up the passport.

Passport Photos

You will need to supply two additional passport photos when you submit your application package. The photos must be color, 2x2 photographs that are standard issued passport photos.

Submit the Visa Application

You will have to submit the visa application to the United States embassy in person. Most United States embassies require that you have a scheduled appointment before you are allowed to enter the premises. Check the embassy/consulate website nearest your Canadian residence to find out their policy. When you submit the application, you will be required to pay any visa processing fees. As of May 2010, they totalled $131.