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I'm a Canadian citizen tour guide that will be picking up a group in the US and touring them for a week in the US before we enter Canada to finish the trip for another week in Canada. Do I require any Visa for such cross-border work? My employer is a US travel company.

  • Possibly so, on the basis of a TV show I saw (but it was pre-NAFTA) about a bus company that hired a certain tribe of American Indians to drive its cross-border routes; as they were dual citizens by treaty. – Andrew Lazarus Apr 11 '16 at 21:34
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    Actually Canada is the bigger pita in this issue, as they require Canadian licensed guides for tours in Canada that are not transiting (ie enter from US, visit Canada, go back into US). This probably plays into the decision to hire a Canadian guide to lead the trip. – user13044 Apr 12 '16 at 2:02
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    Did someone really flag this as suitable for expats. I don't think leading a toru group for a week counts as wanting to "live" in a country. – CMaster Apr 12 '16 at 8:42
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As a Canadian, entering as a business visitor you do not need a visa. While I can't find official documentation for this particular case, you can find the following on the How Do I Enter the United States as a Commercial Truck Driver page:

Canadian citizens entering the United States as visitors for business do not require either a passport or a visa. However, each applicant for admission is required to satisfy the inspecting officer of his or her citizenship. An oral declaration may be accepted or the inspecting officer may require supporting documentation, for example, a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or a passport (valid or expired). In addition, all travelers should carry some form of photo-identification.

That's crystal clear. Now the only question is, are you a business visitor? Well, let's read the law § Sec. 214.2(b) Visitors has this under NAFTA:

tourism personnel (tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators) attending or participating in conventions or conducting a tour that has begun in the territory of another Party. (The tour may begin in the United States; but must terminate in foreign territory, and a significant portion of the tour must be conducted in foreign territory. In such a case, an operator may enter the United States with an empty conveyance and a tour guide may enter on his or her own and join the conveyance.)

Looks like your case is explicitly covered and yes, you are a business visitor. Go ahead, good luck! (The same page also tells you don't need a visa but it's written in unreadable byzantine legalese so I found the CBP truck driver page better to explain that.)

Note that the relevant Canadian guide about Cross Border Movement of Business Persons misses the section in () above and as such is completely misguiding. However, the law certainly trumps any informational pages.

  • I must add: originally I only found the Canadian guide and wanted to add "dura lex, sed lex" (the law is harsh but it is the law) but apparently the law tilts in your favor this time; still it's such a cool way expressing a fundamental concept I couldn't resist adding this phrase in this comment at least. – chx Apr 12 '16 at 9:58
  • CHX - you are the man!! I couldn't get a clear answer from my employer and even chatted with US Immigration who thought there might be some exception for my case but really didn't know. You have solved the case in style and I am in you debt. – Ice Apr 13 '16 at 4:17
  • The Cdn guide seems to say that if one gets us sourced compensation this NAFTA provision may not apply. s. 101(a)(15)(B) of the INA Act also talks to meeting other "source of compensation" requirements. Seems to suggest that the tour guide provisions will not apply if being paid by a US company for the tour??? – Ice Apr 13 '16 at 8:56

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