Question on US Social Security and Canadian Residency

Mr. David I’ve seen your reply posts on and impressed with your knowledge. I have a question and hope you can respond.

I’ve been working on H1B in the USA for 6 years and almost made 24 Social Security points along with retirement fund up to $50K. I’m Canadian Immigrant too and kept coming back and forth to USA and Canada. I’ve passed the Canadian citizenship test but they asked me to prove the residency that I’m going to do soon. I don’t know if they will award me citizenship or not. I’m originally from Pakistan. Lets say if Canada didn’t give me Citizenship and I don’t get a GC in USA, how would I recover the money I contributed in the Social Security in the US?

Thanks for answer in advance.




david ingram replies:

This is a problem.  although the US has now signed Social Security Totalization Agreements with 20 countries, Pakistan is NOT one of them.

Therefore, if you end up back in Pakistan with less than 40 credits, you will  not qualify for Social Security unless you stay away for a year and then return on another H1-B.

On the other hand, Canada does have a treaty.  If you are going to leave the USA anyway, I would  advise you to get back to Canada and get your citizenship by living an working here.  Once you have your Canadian Citizenship, you can work in the USA under TN (Treaty NAFTA) status.

In spite of postings on some sites, you can NOT get your Social Security Tax Payments back If working on an H1 or H2 basis.  It is possible to exempt Social Security Payments if you are from a Tax Treaty Country on an L visa and expected to be in the US for less than five years.

And a TN visa holder who continues to live in Canada and commutes to work in the USA on a 1099 contract basis without a fixed base of operations in the USA can be exempt from paying Social Security AND Federal Income Tax under the US/Canada Tax Convention and the US Canada Social Security Totalization Agreement.  This is a rare occurrence but does happen.

If you have been living and working in the USA for the last six or seven years, you have likely abandoned your Canadian status because you have to have been in Canada for 24 out of any past 60 month period to maintain your PR status UNLESS you are married to and living with a Canadian citizen spouse in the USA OR you were transferred to the USA by / and are working for a Canadian company.

Canadian Citizenship requires you to have been resident in Canada for 1,095 days out of the last 1,460 (3 out of 4 years).

Of course, you can leave the US for a year and qualify for another round of H1 visas in the future. 

I know you are from Pakistan but I am always reminded of one of my favourite client's opinions. 

He said that the best life was:
1.   An Indian wife
2.   A British house
3.   Chinese Food
4.   An American salary

He and his family have taken a year off and returned to India for a year to requalify for another round of H1's.