TN Visas for Canadians and Mexicans are not subject to an annual cap, and therefore are available all year round. The TN visa was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It provides for an employment, non-immigrant visa for those who qualify. Generally, TN Visas are available for Canadians and Mexicans citizens that:
- have a bachelor’s degree and/or professional license in one of the listed eligible occupations specified by NAFTA;
- have a professional assignment, or a prearranged full or part-time job in the United States;
- the professional assignment or job requires the NAFTA professional; and,
- the applicant have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
One of its particularities is that, as a non-immigrant visa, the applicant must show that he or she intends to leave the U.S. at the end of the professional assignment. TN Visas are granted for the duration of the job or assignment, or up to three years. Think you may qualify for a TN Visa? Follow these steps:
Step One: If you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen, and are considering applying for a TN visa to come to the United States to work in your profession, the first thing you need to do is make sure that your profession qualifies for a TN Visa.
What are the TN Visa professions?
There are over sixty professions recognized by NAFTA including the following:
- Professions requiring a college degree: Economist, Landscape Architect, Librarian, Mathematician, Range Manager or Conservationist, Research Assistant, Social Worker, Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist), Urban Planner (including Geographer), Vocational Counselor, Nutritionist, Recreational Therapist, Veterinarian, Agriculturist (including Agronomist), Animal Breeder, Animal Scientist, Apiculturist, Astronomer, Biochemist, Biologist (including Plant Pathologist), Chemist, Dairy Scientist, Entomologist, Epidemiologist, Geneticist, Geochemist, Geologist, Geophysicist (including Oceanographer), Horticulturist, Meteorologist, Pharmacologist, Physicist, Plant Breeder, Poultry Scientist, Soil Scientist, Zoologist, College Teacher, Seminary Teacher, and, University Teacher.
- Professions requiring a college degree OR other types of credentials: Accountant, Architect, Engineer, Forester, Land Surveyor, Lawyer, Dentist, Dietician, Occupational Therapist, Pharmacist, Physician (Teaching or Research only), Physiotherapist or Physical Therapist, Psychologist, and, Registered Nurse.
- Professions requiring a college degree OR other types of credentials in combinations of work experience: Computer Systems Analyst, Disaster Relief Insurance Claim Adjuster, Graphic Designer, Hotel Manager, Industrial Designer, Interior Designer, Management Consultant, Technical Publications Writer, and, Medical Laboratory Technologist.
- No degree or work experience required: Scientific Technician – applicant must show knowledge in certain science disciplines.
Step Two: Once you have identified your profession as eligible for a TN visa, you must determine whether you meet the educational and/or work experience required for such profession. As specified above, some of the TN visa professions require a college degree, while others require various forms of credentials and/or work experience.
For example, an architect will need to show proof of a baccalaureate or licenciatura degree or a State/provincial license, while most scientists (eg. Chemist) will need to show a college degree. There are also some professions that are highly scrutinized because they are deemed to be abused by U.S. employers. An example of this would be the management consultant professional. Also, professionals in the medical and health industry need to submit additional documents not required to the other professional categories.
Step Three: You must then prepare to show to immigration that your profession, along with your credentials, meet the duties and specifications of the job you intend to do in the United States. Your future employer should prepare a detailed Support Statement including your purpose of entry, duties, and length of stay.
How do I apply for a TN Visa?
The process for applying for TN status depends on whether you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen. Generally, Canadian citizens may apply for TN status admission at a port of entry. Mexican citizens must first apply for a non-immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate abroad by filing Form DS-160, and attending an interview at the corresponding U.S. consulate in Mexico before seeking admission in TN status.
What documents should I include with my TN visa application?
- Evidence of your Canadian or Mexican citizenship;
- A valid passport;
- A support letter from your future employer in the U.S.;
- Evidence that you meet the professional qualifications;
- Evidence that you intend to leave the U.S. at the end of the assignment or employment;
- Resume and Experience letters are also good documents to support your credentials.
What about my spouse and children, can they apply for a TN visa? Spouses and children who are minors are eligible for TD status. TN visa dependents may live and study in the U.S., but are not allowed to work while in TD status.
I would like to open a business in the United States. Can I file for a TN visa if I will be self-employed? No, TN Visas are not available for self-employment. There are other immigration classifications that are more suitable for self-employment and investors.
My TN visa is expiring, can I apply for an extension? Yes, however, there are certain considerations that you should keep in mind. Your employer may file an extension by filing Form I-129 with USCIS. There are some instances where you would prefer to file a new TN visa application altogether. Issues such as processing times, costs, and international travel will factor in your decision to file for an extension or submitting a new TN Visa application. This question is better suited for discussion at your consultation, because your strategy will depend on your particular circumstances.
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Need help with your TN Visa?
If you are an employer looking for alternatives to hire a Canadian or Mexican citizen, or if you are a Canadian or Mexican professional with an employment opportunity in the U.S., consider applying for a TN Visa. Follow the steps explained above to see whether you meet the basic requirements or call us for a consultation. Filing for a TN Visa can be an overwhelming process. There are also plenty of potential pitfalls depending on your profession and the job you are seeking. Let us handle your immigration case.