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I'm planning to study at an accredited university in Canada for 3 years. Can I do remote work for US companies with just a student permit, or will I have to get a work visa?

EDIT: Does working as a contractor make any difference? I would be doing remote programming work through my own US company.

  • I think it's unclear. There's information here but I think the assumption is that you'll be working for a Canadian company, thus the requirement for a SIN (so you can pay taxes and company will pay into the social insurance). – mkennedy Jun 12 '15 at 18:17
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    @mkennedy in general, under US law, at least, it doesn't matter where the company is located; it matters where you do the work. I imagine that Canadian law is similar. To work in Canada for a US company then, if I am right, would require paying taxes to Canada, unless there is some tax treaty that provides otherwise (perhaps related to NAFTA?). – phoog Jun 12 '15 at 22:09
  • Also see this regarding taxes. If you're considered a resident of Canada, even a temporary resident, you likely have to file a return. – tubedogg Apr 13 '16 at 2:03
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This is not meant to address tax implications, solely the implications of working in Canada while under another type of permit.

Working remotely for a company located outside of Canada, where the worker is also remunerated outside of Canada, is not considered to be work for the purposes of requiring a work permit. See the section labeled 'What kind of activities are not considered to be "work"?' on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's website. I have also confirmed this interpretation with the CIC officer at the nearest border crossing.

The wrinkle in your case would be you saying it is your "own" company. It basically comes down to whether you are competing with Canadians and therefore impacting the labour market. Are you the only employee of your company? Presumably in that case you are not impacting the labour market because there is no market for additional employees, at least outside the US (assuming that is true). Are you competing with Canadians? It depends on how you find work, and whether those customers are located in the US, Canada or elsewhere.

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