Working as contractor for US company versus Employee at Canadian Company


I wanted to pick your brains regarding pros and cons of moving to Canada but continuing to work for prior US employer, but now as a contractor versus working for a Canadian company.

The way I see it, at least in my case, I am likely to get paid much more if I choose to work as contractor for my US employer. However, the downside is that if I lose my job (current company is a early stage startup), then I am worried it will be hard to get a job in Canada as I won’t have any “Canadian Experience” and time spent contracting while in Canada for US company likely does not count as Canadian Experience.

Would love to bear thoughts from people who have gone through (or least given thought to) something similar.

@panditji @avj @deepac @am1 @usa2can

See previous posts on this subject for quite a lot of info on the subject, but as for the issue of “Canadian Experience”, the outlook really depends on the interviewer but in most cases, particularly in I.T., there would be no difference either way. Experience is experience. There are other implications, such as the potential impact on your government or employer pension accumulation etc., but as far as the actual “experience” is concerned they are equal for most purposes. Having a good written reference from your previous employer carries more weight than does the address of your work site. Always remember to keep copies of recommendation letters, kudos, positive mentions and the like, but that applies equally whether you’re an employee or a contractor.

From my personal experience (very specific to software engineer jobs) there has not been any issue with having US experience only and no one asked for Canadian experience while I was looking for jobs from the US, months before moving to Canada. Even after moving here, initially I only had US experience and that didn’t seem an issue at all for getting interviews lined up.

If you are a contractor in Canada and getting paid in CAD, then you are employed in Canada (of course) and you will be contributing to CPP and other programs just like any other employed Canadian. But if you are getting paid in the US as a US employee, things can get tricky. In this scenario you will be paying US taxes and you will file income tax returns in both US and Canada but note that Canada will charge you tax based on the higher Canadian tax bracket, there are tax treaties but that only covers the overlapping percentage of the tax rate (check with tax expert). Also, you wont contribute towards CPP and EI etc. This may be fine short term but probably not a good idea to do this long term/years.

Thanks a bunch @am1and @hslawd. Your personal experiences about job hunt (with only US experience) makes me feel better about working as Contractor for US company while living in Canada.

About the financial issues you mentioned, my current plan/thinking is to get paid in CAD (either as independent Canadian contractor or through a Canadian PEO).

“Canadian experience” is subjective when it comes to interviewing vs applying for EE (which is objective). It depends on prospective employer. Many people get jobs while in the US and then move here, not just in I.T. but many other fields (some require re-certifications, some don’t).

1 Like