As a Canadian should I apply for a TN visa or H1B visa?

Canadians face unique dilemmas when deciding which visa category to choose when working in the United States. One such dilemma is whether to enter the United States as a TN NAFTA professional, or, as an H1B temporary worker. If you find yourself with this dilemma, you are in a very good position. This article discusses both TN NAFTA status and H1B status for Canadians. The following chart is meant to give a simple side by side comparison of both immigration categories.


H1B Temporary Workers

Application Time

Immediate Border Processing

Varies from 2 – 6 months

Length of Stay

One (1) to three (3) year increments

One (1) to three (3) year increments
Maximum Period of Stay

Unlimited Renewals

Generally a max of six (6) years


TN visas can be renewed at the Border or by mail through a service center.

Renewals can only be processed by a service center.

Available Professions

Restricted to the professions listed on the NAFTA TN Professions list.

Must be a specialty occupation.
Education Required

Depends on the profession. Some require the attainment of advanced degrees and others do not require the attainment of a degree. Experience cannot be a substitute for education.

Requires the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialty related to the employment being sought. Experience can be a substitute for education.

Experience Required

Depends on the profession. Some require no years of experience, other require several years of experience.

No experience required unless specified by the employer or customary for the position being filled.

Wage Requirements


H1B workers must be paid the higher of the prevailing wage as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or, the actual wage paid by the employer to employees in similar positions. Obtaining a prevailing wage from the DOL takes about 30 days.

Labor Condition Application


A Labor Condition Application (LCA) must be filed by the employer with the U.S. Department of Labor. This process generally takes 7 business days.

Public Access File


A Public Access File (PAF) must be kept on file for review by request with evidence that all labor and employment conditions have been complied with.

U.S. Government Filing Fees

A nominal processing fee is charged at the Port of Entry, around $56 USD.

Fees can vary from $1,575 USD up to several thousand USD.

As detailed in the above chart, there are many things to consider when deciding whether to work as a TN NAFTA professional or an H1B temporary worker. In most cases, Canadians who qualify for TN NAFTA status save substantial time and money by choosing to work on a TN versus an H1B. If you are a Canadian faced with the dilemma of which visa category is best for your situation, contact us today to see how we can help you.


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