TN Visa Lawyer for NAFTA Professionals

What is a TN visa?

The TN nonimmigrant visa was created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to allow qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the U.S. to facilitate business activities at a professional level. The purpose of this professional visa is to strengthen trade and business relations between the three North American countries. Before applying for a TN visa, Canadian and Mexican citizens must secure employment with a U.S. employer.

TN Visa Requirements

There are two different TN visas that foreign professionals may apply for. Canadian professionals can apply for a TN-1 visa and Mexican professionals can apply for a TN-2 visa. Each of these visas comes with a different set of requirements that must be met in order for the applicant to qualify.

TN-1 Requirements for Canadian Citizens:

If a Canadian applicant wishes to obtain a TN-1 visa, they must:

  • Be a citizen of Canada
  • Provide proof of citizenship
  • Work in a qualified NAFTA profession
  • Show evidence that the U.S. employer requires a NAFTA employee
  • 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
  • Not be self-employed
  • Show evidence of meeting all credentials for the NAFTA professional
  • Provide a credentials evaluation
  • Consult with a TN visa lawyer

TN and dependent TD nonimmigrant visas can be applied for in advance at a U.S. Consular Post, a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.

TN-2 Requirements for Mexican Citizens:

If a Mexican national wishes to obtain a TN-2 visa, they must:

  • Be a citizen of Mexico
  • Provide proof of citizenship
  • Work in a qualified NAFTA profession
  • Show evidence that the U.S. employer requires a NAFTA employee
  • 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
  • Not be self-employed
  • Show evidence of meeting all credentials for the NAFTA professional
  • Provide a credentials evaluation
  • Consult with a TN visa lawyer 

Mexican professionals must have TN-2 visas to enter the U.S., and if they wish to bring dependents—such as a spouse and children—their family may receive TD nonimmigrant visas. TN and TD nonimmigrant visas can be applied for in advance at a U.S. Consular Post, a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.

TN Visa Sponsorship

In order to qualify for a TN visa, an applicant must work in one of the 60 NAFTA-approved professions:

  • Accountant
  • Agriculturist
  • Animal Breeder/Scientist
  • Apiculturist
  • Architect
  • Astronomer
  • Biochemist
  • Biologist
  • Chemist
  • College Professor
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Dairy Scientist
  • Dentist
  • Dietitian
  • Economist
  • Engineer
  • Entomologist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Forester
  • Geneticist
  • Geochemist
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Graphic Designer
  • Horticulturist
  • Hotel Manager
  • Industrial Designer
  • Interior Designer
  • Landscape Architect
  • Land Surveyor
  • Lawyer
  • Librarian
  • Management Consultant
  • Mathematician
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist
  • Meteorologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Physician
  • Physicist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Plant Breeder
  • Poultry Scientist
  • Psychologist
  • Range Manager
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Research Assistant
  • Scientific Technician
  • Seminary Professor
  • Social Worker
  • Soil Scientist
  • Technical Publications Writer
  • University Professor
  • Urban Planner
  • Veterinarian
  • Vocational Counselor
  • Zoologist

TN Visa Processing Time

TN visa processing time can vary depending on the case and where an applicant files their documents. For example, if an applicant files their documents at a port of entry, they can be approved in a few hours. If they petition for a change of status stateside, the USCIS can take up to 6 months to process their I-129 TN petition. While an additional Premium Processing fee can be paid to expedite the process to 15 calendar days with USCIS, it should be noted that it will not increase the chances of approval. The Consular Processing can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months.

TN Visa vs. H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is the closest nonimmigrant visa to compare with the TN visa. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, the TN visa has no annual cap while only 85,000 H-1B visas are allocated every year via a lottery. A TN visa can be extended indefinitely, while an H-1B visa is only valid for the initial 3 years, with an opportunity to extend for another 3 years, up to a total amount of 6 years. The H-1B visa is significantly more expensive than the TN visa, but fortunately, most of the cost is covered by the applicant’s employer. H-1B visas are not limited to any occupation, while TN visas can only be provided to 60 NAFTA-approved professions. Finally, the H-1B serves as a “dual intent” visa, meaning the holder may obtain a green card status. The TN visa does not provide a smooth path to permanent residence, and attempting to switch from a TN visa to a green card can be challenging. An immigration attorney can help determine what your immigration options in the U.S. are before you begin applying for a visa.

Extension Options

TN nonimmigrant work visas can be extended and renewed indefinitely by filing for an extension. The TN visa is issued in 3-year increments. A foreign national may apply at a U.S. Consular Post, a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. If one wishes to remain in the U.S. beyond their initial period of stay without first departing from the U.S., they must seek a TN visa extension with USCIS. If they are in the U.S., your employer may file Form I-129 TN petition packet on your behalf. There is no limit to the number of TN visa renewals, but when one has expired, there is no grace period, unlike with the H-1B visa—the worker must leave immediately.

Dependents of TN Visa Holders

TN visa holders can bring their spouses and children under the age of 21 into the U.S. under TD nonimmigrant status. This visa allows dependents to stay in the U.S. with the TN holder for the entire duration of their approved stay. Unfortunately, under TD status, spouses and children are not employment authorized, but they may enroll in school. Similar to TN visa applicants, TD visa holders can apply ahead of time for an extension, or at a CBP-designated port of entry.

Batrakova Can Help

Looking for a TN visa so you can work in the U.S.? Seeking the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney can increase your chances of being approved and relieve the associated stress. Our TN visa attorneys are experienced in the TN filing process and can help answer all of your questions, as they guide you through the application process.

Get in touch to start your journey.

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