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I'm a Canadian student, who opted into a co-op program. I wanted to work in the US for one of my work terms, and I recently got an internship (4 months) there starting in May.

I was wondering what kind of Visa I can go for, and if I can get a TN Visa as a student. Is the technology sector (CS) covered under NAFTA?

Is there any way to inexpensively get a visa to work in the US for 4 months as a Canadian?

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Not an answer but a historical note. When I was a Microsoft intern during my UW math co-op terms in the mid 1990s Microsoft obtained TN visas for the interns. I was later told that they had been asked to stop doing so shortly after my time, as student internships were not supposed to be covered. If by chance you're at UW, just go down to Needles Hall or wherever the co-op program is administered these days and ask someone there; they have to deal with this question all the time I'm sure. –  Eric Lippert Apr 2 at 23:25

3 Answers 3

Given that you are a student I would suggest looking for an Exchange Program and a J1 visa. To obtain a TN visa you need to be a professional with a degree according to the published list.

But in either case your employer will be getting you a visa if they decide to hire you even temporarily.

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Visas are the employer's job. It is for the employer and its lawyers to deal with, and give you instructions on what to do.

Technology is definitely covered under NAFTA, but I don't know if internships are. Generally, internships are done under J1 or H3 visa. TN is for professionals, and since you don't have the degree yet you may not qualify (or maybe yes, check with the employer). Part-time jobs are generally allowed under TN.

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Is there any way to inexpensively get a visa to work in the US for 4 months as a Canadian?

In short, no. Typically, if you opted into a co-op program with a university like UWaterloo, you would be paying (EDIT:) fees to [UWaterloo] (typically in the order of $700 per academic term) to coordinate your J-1 Visa with their sponsor, Cultural Vistas (who handles most of the work, including the main sponsorship, for you - provided that you release the correct details of your citizenship, and answer a few questions that are mandatory for any J-1 visa applicant).

If you need to do it yourself, the fees will run anywhere between $200 to $600, depending on type of Visa, length, and eligibility based on citizenship (as a Canadian, you should be OK - this is a problem for other nationalities because of the non-NAFTA-like agreements. See this link for more details about eligibility and fees, but please do more research before asking questions like this.

There is no "easy" way to do this either - typically, it takes between 3-8 weeks to obtain a J-1 visa, if you have a sponsor like CV lined up. Without a sponsor, you will not be able to obtain a Visa, and will then have to reneg on your job offer from the US company. See this for more details on program sponsors.

Please note: Somebody needs to be responsible for the SEVIS (application) fee; try e-mailing your recruiter or HR manager for more details about who will cover this, since it can be pretty hefty if you don't have any USD lying around.

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