The Known Employer program is a pilot program that is meant to help make travel between the United States and Canada more efficient for business travelers. At the time of publication, this program is only at the consideration level and has not yet been implemented.


About the Program

The Known Employer program would help streamline the adjudication process of employment-based immigration benefits that are requested ad filed by eligible employers in the United States. The program is intended to assist the Department of Homeland Security with processing, as well as employers in the United States who wish to employ foreign workers. Multiple governmental agencies are behind the program, including United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Goals of the Program

The Department of Homeland Security believes that the Known Employer program could help make the processing of certain types of employment-based immigration benefit requests to be more efficient and less expensive. The Department of Homeland Security also cites its belief that the program would help reduce paperwork and avoid delays for the Department of Homeland Security itself and for United States employers. At the heart of the program is the government’s goal of providing the expediting of business travel between the Canadian and United States border and ports of entry. Currently, the United States and Canada have the most significant bilateral trade and investment partnership on the globe. Due to this characteristic, each country’s government realize the importance of providing expedited business travel between the countries in order to create jobs and support the economic competitiveness of both nations. Likewise, the countries also realize the importance of secure borders. The ultimate goal of the program and similar initiatives is to accelerate lawful trade and commerce between the United States and Canada.

Anticipated Timing

The announcement regarding the Known Employer program came via a post on the Department of Homeland Security’s website on January 8, 2015. After this announcement was made public, the executive director of the Council for Global Immigration stated that she was pleased with the administration for considering the program. She stated that employers needed efficiency and predictability with the entire immigration system and that this program could very well establish the first step. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that the pilot program would begin by the end of the year of 2015.

Responses to the Program

The director and counsel for legislative affairs for the Council for Global Immigration also responded positively to the announcement, citing instances in which the council has advocated for such a program to help save resources for the government and employers. She also stated that the pilot program could be a positive improvement to the immigration system. However, some lawmakers responded to the announcement negatively, citing a belief that the program would help greedy American businesses to hire cheaper foreign labor rather than providing jobs with competitive wages to legal workers.


The government’s goal to provide for expedited business travel is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is also a goal echoed in the Beyond the Border initiative between the United States and Canada. The initiative was launched in February 2011 between President Obama and Canada’s Prime Minister Harper. The initiative expressed the countries’ desire to cooperate toward securing the borders and addressing any threats. This initiative specifically communicated the countries’ desire to explore the feasibility of including a trusted employer program to help process business travelers from the United States and Canada.

Subsequent to the commencement of the program, the country’s leaders released an action plan that set out their mutual priorities and specific initiatives that they believed would help achieve their goals. In December 2013, an implementation report was conducted regarding the initiative. It showcased the progress that had been made since the launching of the Beyond the Border initiative. In addition to providing more security at the borders, the countries also expressed a desire to compel economic competitiveness.