What is a TN Visa?
A TN Visa, also referred to as TN Status, is awarded to Canadian or Mexican citizens to obtain entry, reside and work temporarily in the United States as a non-immigrant professional. The TN Visa may only be granted to an applicant whose profession is listed in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
What is the TN Visa non-immigrant classification?
On January 1, 1994, the United States, Canada and Mexico entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA opened up trade between the United States and Canada through improved economic and trade regulations. One such by product of NAFTA, was the creation of a special TN Visa non-immigrant classification for Canadian citizens. The TN Visa classification is available to Canadian citizens seeking to enter the United States on a temporary basis in order to perform business duties at a professional level. Unfortunately, in order to qualify as a professional you cannot simply seek to enter the United States to work in any professional capacity. Your ability to qualify under the TN Visa classification is determined by the NAFTA professions list, your education/credentials and your citizenship.
How do I qualify as a TN Visa non-immigrant?
In order to qualify as a TN Visa non-immigrant you must be filling a TN Visa NAFTA profession and provide (at a minimum): Proof of your Canadian citizenship, a detailed support letter from your prospective employer, evidence of your education/credentials and proof of your intent to return to your permanent residence in Canada at the end of your TN Visa.
How do I apply for a TN Visa?
Initial requests for TN Visa classification are made at a U.S. port of entry by providing (at a minimum): Proof of your Canadian citizenship, a detailed support letter from your prospective employer, evidence of your education/credentials and proof of your intent to return to your permanent residence in Canada at the end of your TN Visa. Canadians who present an approvable TN Visa application are admitted into the United States as a TN Visa non-immigrant and are issued Form I-94 as evidence.
How long is a TN Visa good for?
When you are admitted as a TN Visa non-immigrant, your initial period of stay can range from a few days up to three (3) years. Length of stay is often determined by the employer support letter and sometimes by the TN Visa profession you are seeking entry under and the validity of your passport. Your passport should have a validity date covering the requested length of stay on a TN Visa.
How do I extend my stay as a TN Visa?
There are two available extension options if you remain with the same TN Visa employer. (1) You can apply at a port of entry using the same procedure as your initial entry; (2) Your employer can file Form I-129 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As long as your employer’s need for your services continues, an extension can be granted.
Can my family come with me?
Yes. Your spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for TD nonimmigrant status. In order to qualify you must show a bonafide spousal or parent-child relationship by must providing the following documentation at the port of entry: (1) Proof of Canadian citizenship; (2) Proof of relationship to you, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate; and (3) If your spouse and children will be processing without you, they must show proof of your valid Form I-94 nonimmigrant status.
Do I qualify for a TN Visa?
You qualify for a TN Visa if you can answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Are you a Canadian or Mexican Citizen?
- Is your profession listed on the TN Visa professions list?
- Do you possess the minimum qualifications for your listed TN Visa profession?
- Have you received an offer of employment from a U.S. employer?
If you answered “Yes” to the above listed questions you can qualify for a TN Visa.
Do I need a TN Visa to look for employment in the U.S.?
No. As a Canadian and under NAFTA you are able to enter the United States to apply for positions, interview for positions and seek employment in the United States without a visa. Once you obtain employment you will need to obtain proper work authorization prior to commencing employment. The quickest and most cost effective work permit available to Canadian citizens is the TN Visa non-immigrant classification.
How long does it take to get a TN Visa?
Initial applications for TN Visa status are reviewed at participating U.S. Ports of Entry and if properly presented can be approved within minutes on the spot. When applying by mail with U.S.C.I.S. applications can take from 15 days with premium processing and up to several months with standard processing.
When should I process for my TN Visa?
We recommend presenting your TN Visa application at your desired port of entry at least one week prior to the start of your employment in the United States. When applying by mail we recommend applying as far in advance as possible before your anticipated start date, up to 6 months in advance.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
We recommend using a qualified U.S. Immigration Lawyer with all TN visa applications. If any of the following apply to your situation we strongly suggest using the assistance of an experienced licensed U.S. immigration lawyer:
- You have previously been refused entry into the United States; or
- You have a criminal background; or
- You are seeking entry as a Management Consultant, Scientific Technician or will be working in any IT profession; or
- Your qualifications are not a clear match to any profession on the TN visa professions list; or
- You will be working for a Canadian employer while servicing pre-existing contracts in the United States.
Do I qualify for a TN Visa?
You can qualify for a TN Visa if your profession is listed under NAFTA and you are able to show the following requirements:
- Proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship;
- Employer support letter;
- Proof of education/credentials; and
- Proof of intent to return to Canada or Mexico at the expiry of your TN Visa.
How long can I stay as a TN Visa status holder in the U.S.?
The validity of stay of a Canadian professional with TN Visa status in the U.S. may range from a few days to three years. Renewals or extensions can be obtained indefinitely.
What is the renewal process for a TN Visa?
There are two ways to renew a TN Visa: (1) You may follow the same procedures you used when you initially applied for TN Visa status and submit your application at a U.S. port of entry; (2) If you will work with the same employer in the U.S., your employer may file Form I-129 at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What visa type do my family members receive?
A TD status, which has the same validity period as the TN Visa, will be given to the spouse and children of a TN visa holder. If the necessary supporting evidence of the relationship is properly presented, the TD status request should be approved on the spot at any U.S. port of entry.
What visa type do my family members other than my spouse and children receive?
Family members other than the spouse and children of a Canadian TN visa holder such as parents, cohabiting partners and other family members who don’t qualify for TD status may qualify for B status.
Do I need a job offer before applying for TN Visa status?
Yes, you must have a job offer. One requirement for TN visa application is the supporting evidence that the applicant is engaged in an employee-employer relationship. In the case concerning TN visa, the letter of support offer from the potential employer is the supporting evidence. The applicant’s offered position, TN Visa profession, salary, start date, and other details should be included in the letter of support.
Can I work for multiple employers in the U.S.?
Yes. You can work for multiple employers in the United States provided that you obtain TN Visa status for every employer. Working for an employer other than the one your TN visa is approved for, violates the U.S. immigration laws.
Can I change my TN Visa employer?
Yes. You can change your TN Visa employer at any time and it can be processed at a U.S. port of entry or through a USCIS service center.
Does TN Visa status allow me to be an independent contractor?
Yes. You are able to work as an employee or independent contractor. As long as the employer can establish control over you, you can work as an independent contractor.
How long does it take for my TN Visa application be approved?
When you present an approvable application with the necessary requirements at the interview during initial application, a TN status is issued on the spot. When applying by mail the application can take 15 days with premium processing or several months with regular processing.
When should I process my application for TN Visa status?
It is ideal to process TN visa application no more than 10 days in advance when applying in person and up to 6 months in advance when applying by mail. This way, you can make necessary changes to your TN visa application and can have enough time to submit other requested documents. If you process the application too close to the start date of your employment, you may miss your start date or scheduled flight to U.S.
What do I do when my TN visa application is denied?
It is common for a TN visa application to be denied. Border officers consider many factors before issuing TN status. If you’re denied of TN status, the best option is to seek the advice of an experienced TN visa attorney before re-applying.
Is it me or my employer who needs to prepare my TN visa application?
Either the employee or the employer may prepare the TN visa application provided that it comes with supporting job offer from the employer and other necessary supporting evidence. It’s also important that TN visa application is properly prepared. Some factors such as improperly written employer offer letter, incorrect TN Visa profession request, or missing evidence may result in denial of your application. TN Visa status application is not really as easy as it appears.
Is it advantageous to hire a lawyer for TN visa application?
Yes. Whether it’s the applicant’s initial request of TN Visa status, reapplication after a denial, or renewal, seeking the legal services of an experienced U.S. immigration attorney has proven to be advantageous by making your application properly prepared. Hiring an experienced TN Visa lawyer from the beginning of the application makes the process easier and can avoid potential denials and ongoing border issues.
Is there a limit as to how many times a TN visa is renewed?
There’s no limit to the times a TN visa is renewed, but if the TN employee has been on a TN status longer, the scrutiny on the renewal is higher.
How do I change from a TN Visa to an H1B visa?
TN visa is handled differently from H1B visa as it requires greater processing fees and more supporting documents. The H1B visa needs to be sponsored by the employer and is not immediately issued at a U.S. port of entry. A change from TN Visa to and HIB visa is a complex process so it usually takes a lot of time to process compared to applying for a TN visa. Being qualified for TN status does not guarantee that the application for H1B visa will be approved. It is best to consult with an experienced Immigration Lawyer when changing from one visa status to another.
How long is TN Visa status good for?
An initial TN Visa status is good for up to three (3) years. It can be renewed indefinitely as long as your services are needed by your employer.
Am I allowed to have more than one (1) visa classification?
No. An individual can only have one visa or status classification at a time. Any person, however, is able to have multiple visas of one type such as multiple TN visas for working for multiple employers.
How long can I get my TN visa before I start my job?
You can apply for TN status up to 10 days in advance of your start date at the border or up to 6 months in advance by mail.
Can I change from a TN Visa status to a green card?
Yes. You can go from your TN Visa status to a green card if your application for a green card is properly handled. It’s best to seek legal advice from an experienced U.S. immigration attorney before you start with the green card process. This is mainly because questions regarding your immigrant intent can be raised during the process.
What qualifies as a proof of education for a TN Visa Application?
Original diplomas, certificates or degrees serve as evidence of your education. Some other proofs are supporting academic transcripts and foreign credentials evaluation.
How do I know if my profession qualifies for TN status?
You may determine if your profession qualifies for TN Visa status by comparing the position offered to you to the listed professions under TN NAFTA and the education required to fill in the TN NAFTA profession.
Can I get a new job on the same TN Visa status if I’m fired from my job?
No. TN visa can only be used for working for the employer who offered you a job in the U.S. which makes it employer-specific in nature. The name of the employer and the authorized employment is listed on Form I-94.
What if I forgot to renew my TN Visa status before expiring?
Failure to renew your TN Visa status before it expires means that you’re out of status. You must stop working immediately, leave the U.S. and request re-entry on a new TN Visa status before restarting your new employment. If you continue working and don’t leave the U.S. when you’re out of status, both you and your employer can face serious consequences.
When I’m on a TN Visa status, can my spouse and children come with me to the U.S.?
Yes. Spouses and children of TN Visa status holders can come to the U.S. under the TD status since they will not be issued TN visa. For more information on how to obtain TD status for your family members.
Does my TN Visa status expire if I lose my job?
TN status immediately expires if you lose your job since it is contingent on employment. The TN Visa status ends once the employer-employee relationship ends.
Where do I renew my TN visa?
Your TN visa can be renewed at a U.S. port of entry or by mail through USCIS using Form I-129.
Can I apply for a TN visa if I just finished school but have not received my actual degree?
You may still apply for TN Visa status if you have finished school and graduated from your course of study by showing proof that you finished your studies through transcripts and a letter from your school indicating completion of your studies.
Do I have to return to Canada before I renew my TN visa?
No, you don’t need to return to Canada to renew your TN status. You can renew by mail with USCIS using Form I-129 without leaving the United States.
What if my job title does not exactly match with the job title listed under NAFTA?
The job title is not the only factor that determines approval of applicant’s TN Visa status request. Although the TN Visa NAFTA officer takes the job title into consideration, there are other factors such as the applicant’s academic background, duties and past employment experiences that the officer considers.
Do I have to bring original documents during my TN Visa interview?
Yes. You have to be prepared to present all supporting evidence for your application for TN Visa status, thus you need to bring the original supporting evidence.
Can I renew my TN Visa status with my original offer letter?
No. You must obtain a new offer letter from your employer. If a TN visa was issued to you before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be issued again. Whether you’re applying for TN Visa status for the first time or for renewal, you must show that you qualify for the TN Visa profession under NAFTA. If you fail to present properly prepared application, the probability that your request for TN Visa status be denied is high.
How long does it take to process the TN visa?
The entire process of a TN Visa application can usually be completed within the same day at a U.S. port of entry. If your document is properly prepared and comes with a job offer letter and all other supporting evidence, the TN Visa status can be issued within minutes. However, obtaining a job offer letter from the employer often takes time.
What happens when I get married with an American while on a TN Visa status?
Entering into marriage with an American while you’re on a TN Visa status requires proper procedures in preparation for future green card request. An experienced U.S. immigration attorney can help you properly change from being a non-immigrant TN Visa status holder to U.S. permanent resident through marriage.
What is a U.S. port of entry?
A U.S. port of entry is an inspection point where individuals of foreign nationality can seek lawful entry into the United States. It is where applicants process their TN visa applications.
What is the TN visa interview process?
The TN visa interview process may differ depending on the applicant and the interviewing officer. The questioning process varies from brief to very intense. It is basically the officer’s duty to ensure lawful entry of the foreign nationals into the United States. The interview can be smooth for an applicant qualified for TN visa status with properly presented application.
Am I qualified for TN Visa status if my degree is not earned from Canada or the U.S.?
A TN Visa applicant whose degree is issued from outside of North America must obtain foreign credentials evaluation. To qualify for TN Visa status, you need to prove that you have earned the TN Visa profession’s required degree from the U.S., Canada or Mexico.