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greencardlawyers.com > work visas > TN visas
TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican Professionals
Description of TN visa
Qualifying Canadian and Mexican citizens may apply for a TN work visa. This visa was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). To qualify, you must be coming to the United States to work in a professional occupation listed in the NAFTA treaty.
Qualifications for a TN visa
To qualify for TN visa status, you must have an offer of employment from a U.S. company to work in a profession that is listed on the NAFTA occupations list. Your employer in the United States must require someone in your professional capacity for the position.
You must also meet the specific requirements for that profession, such as a degree, license and professional experience. A description of these occupations, and the minimum requirements, are described in the Peng & Weber TN Occupations page.
Length of Stay in TN Status
TN visa status allows you to live and work in the United States for up to three years at a time. TN status can be renewed for additional three-year periods. Although there is no maximum number of years for TN visa status, you must be able to show that you intend to leave. If you wish to seek permanent residency in the United States, you may have to switch to a different type of work visa.
The process of applying for a TN visa differs for Canadians and Mexican citizens. Canadians may apply for TN visa status at the border, whereas Mexicans must apply at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.
Application Process for Canadians
Canadians may apply for TN status when entering the United States at the border. You must provide a letter from your prospective U.S. employer offering you a job in the United States, which is included on the NAFTA list of professional occupations. You must also provide a copy of your degree, license, and/or employment records to show that you qualify for the position. You will have to show proof of Canadian citizenship, such as a Canadian passport or Birth Certificate.
Application Process for Mexicans
Mexican citizens can not apply for TN visa status at the border. You should apply directly at a U.S. consulate in Mexico and present a letter from your prospective U.S. employer offering you a job in the United States, which is included on the NAFTA list of professional occupations. You must also provide a copy of your degree, license, and/or employment records to show that you qualify for the position. You will have to show proof of Mexican citizenship, such as a Mexican passport or Birth Certificate. If the U.S. consulate approves your TN visa application, you may then apply for admission at a U.S. port of entry.
Applications for Extension of Stay
Those with TN visa status can extend their stay for additional three-year terms. There is no statutory limit to the number of times one can renew TN visa status, though you need to show that you intend to leave the United States. Canadians have two options for renewing their TN status. The first option is to return to Canada and reapply at the border or airport as with the original application. The second option is to have their employer file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"). This option does not require leaving the United States. Mexican citizens may also have their employer filea petition with USCIS.
Spouses and Children of TN visa holders
Once you obtain TN visa status, your spouse and unmarried minor children may accompany you to live in the United States. Your dependents would hold TD (“Trade Dependent”) status, which is valid for the duration of your TN visa status. Those in TD visa status do not have authorization to work while in the U.S. If your spouse wishes to work, he or she would have to qualify for their own TN or other work visa category.
Self Employment and Contract Employees
The TN is not available if you set up a business in the United States and then sponsor yourself for a TN visa. The regulations specifically do not allow self-employment for TN holders, unless you perform services for a U.S. entity. TN holders may not be sole owners of, or hold a controlling interest in, their sponsoring companies. If you are seeking to invest in a business in the United States, you may want to consider the E-2 Treaty Investor visa category. The TN applicant does not have to be an employee of the U.S. company; you may be a contract employee under certain circumstances.
Employers do not need to maintain extensive documents and records on TN workers, unlike with H-1B employees. In the case of an investigation or audit by the Immigration Service or Labor Department, the employer must show that the worker is in valid status. An employer must complete the Form I-9 for employees in TN visa status, as with all other employees.
If you would like assistance preparing your request for TN visa status,
contact Peng & Weber.
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