Question on speaking in the US -

Hi David:
I am a speaker that occasionally (3-5 times/year) speaks at large events in the U.S.  I sell a training program which is delivered in Canada.
From reading some of your posts it sounds like this is a violation of the U.S. laws, and that I would need a visa or permit to do this legally.
What options do I have in order to get "legal" and what would be the cost and length of time for each?
For example, can I set up a U.S. office of my company and be able to offer the program via my U.S. office, if the U.S. company is paying taxes?
Is there a visa that applies to public speakers?
I do not disclose to the INS officers when entering the U.S. that I am speaking at an event.  I have not had any problems so far, but I do not want to run into a problem in the future, and I'm wondering the best way for me as a speaker to be able to legally go to the U.S. and sell my programs there.
Thank you for your assistance.
david ingram replies:

I need a better definition of this myself. This is the second similar question this week.

However, as i understand it, you may speak at a conference if you are not being paid and not selling anything at that time, do not take money and do not hand over any finished product, book, manual,  which is not clearly marked sample, etc. Handing out a100 take away copies of a 50 page three ring binder marked sample would not be allowed although handing out or having two or three available for people to look at would be.  Of course, you could send a large amount of product to the US and have an American take orders and collect money for you and then be sure to send  you  the proceeds in Canada and not accept it down there.

.If you are being PAID or wish to be paid AS A SPEAKER, MY SUGGESTION IS THAT YOU FIND A SIMILAR US BUSINESS TO HIRE YOU on a full time part time basis and then when you are invited to speak in the US, that person or organization hires the company that has hired you as a speaker and that company pays you.

Entering the US to speak and not disclosing it is a clear violation.  the bad news is that if it was illegal in the past, you can still be arrested, imprisoned, fined, deported and banned for something you did three years ago just as if you had robbed a bank.

If Harvard University wanted to hire you as a guest lecturer, they would have to get a visa for you.

If XYZ company wants to hire you as a lecturer - even for a day - you need a visa. They will have a much harder time than Harvard and likely can not do it within a year.

If, on the other hand you are going to an Annual conference or convention in your field and are making a presentation at that conference without being paid, then you can attend six of those in a year under B-1 status.  Paying your airfare down  as an honorarium is not considered pay in that situation. The general rule as i saw it once in print was that you may attend 6 such conferences in a year to speak.

Setting up your own company as described would not work.  There are no part-time self employed self initiated visas. It would if you were going to move to the US in which case, an E2 visa might suffice.  And to be sure, if you had several employees and were going to open a branch with US employees you could get an L-1 visa to supervise and continue living in Canada but you would need employees.

That would allow you to work in the US and still work in Canada if needed.




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This is not intended to be definitive but in general I am quoting $900 to $3,000 for a dual country tax return.

$900 would be one T4 slip one W2 slip one or two interest slips and you lived in one country only (but were filing both countries) - no self employment or rentals or capital gains - you did not move into or out of the country in this year.
$1,200 would be the same with one rental
$1,300 would be the same with one business no rental
$1,300 would be the minimum with a move in or out of the country. These are complicated because of the back and forth foreign tax credits. - The IRS says a foreign tax credit takes 1 hour and 53 minutes.
$1,600 would be the minimum with a rental or two in the country you do not live in or a rental and a business and foreign tax credits  no move in or out

$1,700 would be for two people with income from two countries

$3,000 would be all of the above and you moved in and out of the country.
This is just a guideline for US / Canadian returns
We will still prepare Canadian only (lives in Canada, no US connection period) with two or three slips and no capital gains, etc. for $200.00 up. However, if you have a stack of 1099, or T3 or T4A or T5 or K1 reporting forms, expect to pay an average of $10.00 each with up to $50.00 for a K1 or T5013 or T5008 or T101 --- Income trusts with amounts in box 42 are an even larger problem and will be more expensive. - i.e. 20 information slips will be at least $350.00
With a Rental for $400, two or three rentals for $550 to $700 (i.e. $150 per rental) First year Rental - plus $250.
A Business for $400 - Rental and business likely $550 to $700
And an American only (lives in the US with no Canadian income or filing period) with about the same things in the same range with a little bit more if there is a state return.
Moving in or out of the country or part year earnings in the US will ALWAYS be $900 and up.
TDF 90-22.1 forms are $50 for the first and $25.00 each after that when part of a tax return.
8891 forms are generally $50.00 to $100.00 each.
18 RRSPs would be $900.00 - (maybe amalgamate a couple)
Capital gains *sales)  are likely $50.00 for the first and $20.00 each after that.

Catch - up returns for the US where we use the Canadian return as a guide for seven years at a time will be from $150 to $600.00 per year depending upon numbers of bank accounts, RRSP's, existence of rental houses, self employment, etc. Note that these returns tend to be informational rather than taxable.  In fact, if there are children involved, we usually get refunds of $1,000 per child per year for 3 years.  We have done several catch-ups where the client has received as much as $6,000 back for an $1,800 bill and one recently with 6 children is resulting in over $12,000 refund. 

Email and Faxed information is convenient for the sender but very time consuming and hard to keep track of when they come in multiple files.  As of May 1, 2008, we will charge or be charging a surcharge for information that comes in more than two files.  It can take us a valuable hour or more  to try and put together the file when someone sends 10 emails or 15 attachments, etc. We had one return with over 50 faxes and emails for instance. 

This is a guideline not etched in stone.  If you do your own TDF-90 forms, it is to your advantage. However, if we put them in the first year, the computer carries them forward beautifully.


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