In this guide we will explain the process of switching from TN visa to green card status. Going from a non-immigrant visa to a Green Card is not a simple task, but with guidance from an experienced attorney it is entirely possible.
The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa that was originally created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), now United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMC). The TN visa allows qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are Nurses, Engineers, Accountants, Lawyers, Pharmacists, Scientists, Teachers, and other professionals. A Canadian TN Visa is a TN-1 and a Mexican TN Visa is a TN-2.
The TN Visa to Green Card Process
The TN visa to green card process is not a smooth path to permanent residence. You must have a U.S. employer who would initially sponsor you for a TN status. The following are the main requirements:
- Provide proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship;
- Work in a qualified NAFTA/USMC profession;
- Provide a letter from employer detailing the position, purpose, length of stay, and qualifications;
- Have an offer of employment and a prospective position with the U.S. employer;
- May not be self-employed;
- Demonstrate evidence of meeting all credentials for the NAFTA professional;
- Provide a credentials evaluation, if applicable;
- Consult with a TN visa lawyer.
If you meet all of the requirements above, then you may apply for a TN Visa. If you are already a TN visa holder but wish to apply for permanent residence, you have limited options. One option is changing your status to a dual intent work visa that allows you to apply for permanent residence without jeopardizing your TN status. The two visas that would be appropriate in that case are an H-1B or an L-1.
The H-1B visas are the most regularly used non-immigrant works visas because of how versatile they can be, as long as you can prove that you work in a specialty occupation, your position requires at a minimum a Bachelor’s degree and your employer will be paying you a prevailing wage. For example, a nurse could apply for an H-1B visa as long as the position requires a Bachelor’s degree. The downside to an H-1B visa is the annual cap. There are 65,000 H-1B visas available to individuals with Bachelor’s degrees, and an additional cap of 20,000 H-1B visas for those with Master’s and higher. As a result, USCIS receives a surplus of applicants each year and conducts a lottery. If you end up being selected as part of an annual cap and changing your status from a TN to an H-1B visa, then that will allow for the smoothest transition to a Green Card.
L-1 Visas are more specialized, with an L-1A being an intracompany transferee in executive or managerial capacity and an L-1B being an intracompany transferee with specialized knowledge. There must be a business nexus between the U.S. company and the company abroad, hence the employee to be transferred must have worked for at least one (1) year for the parent company abroad (in the last three years preceding the application filing) before being transferred to its affiliate/subsidiary in the U.S. An example would be if a Nursing Manager worked for a company that had a location in Canada or Mexico and at least one in the U.S., and they then could change their status or Consular process for an L-1 visa.
Making the Change from TN Visa to Green Card Through Marriage
To transition from a TN visa to green card through marriage will require you to prove that your marriage was not entered into in an attempt to evade the immigration laws of the United States. Marriage to a U.S. citizen when on a nonimmigrant status could be seen as a red flag to USCIS. You must tread carefully when trying to adjust your status through marriage from a TN visa. In order to avoid any issues with USCIS you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney on what the best options might be for you, as well the adjustment of status process and the supporting documentation required.
The main steps for applying for an adjustment of status are as follows:
- You must be married to a U.S. citizen;
- You must undergo an immigration medical examination;
- You must file an adjustment of status petitions with USCIS;
- You will need to undergo an interview at a local USCIS Field Office, where the USCIS Interviewing Officer will determine the validity of your marriage;
- If approved, you will receive your green card after the in-person interview in 2-4 weeks in the mail.
Before deciding which immigration route is the best option for you, ensure to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
TN Visa To Green Card Processing Time
An applicant’s TN visa to green card processing time can vary greatly from case to case and depends on the route that you will undertake. Below are some general estimated processing times for the visa options outlined in this blog article:
- TN Visas can be processed at the port of entry for Canadian nationals, and Mexican nationals must undergo an in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy abroad, the scheduling of one could take up to two months;
- H-1B Visa that are cap-subject get adjudicated within 3 to 6 months by USICS, or within 15 days with Premium Processing;
- L-1 Visas can be adjudicated within 3 to 6 months by USICS, or within 15 days with Premium Processing;
- Adjustment of Status I-485 cases can take anywhere from 8 to 16 months to process, given current backlogs.
Given the wide range of immigrant options, it is important to contact an experienced immigration attorney who can assess your specific situation and help you come up with the best immigration strategy.
Let Us Help With Your TN Visa to Green Card Process
Work with a business immigration attorney who understands the interworking of a TN visa to green card process. Reach out to Batrakova Law to learn about your immigration options and enjoy all the benefits of working with an experienced immigration lawyer in Portland, Oregon.