If you are interested or need to work in the United States temporarily, the easiest way is to secure a job then apply for a TN Visa. The TN Visa is available for foreign nationals from Mexico and Canada under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
However, even if you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen, you still need to check whether your occupation qualifies for the visa. You can check the NAFTA list of professions per industry and their necessary qualifications. Apart from the eligibility, you also need an employment offer from a U.S. company and a $50 fee for crossing the border. Do take note that some professions can be very specific like an economist or scientist while there are more general occupations like a management consultant. You can find the complete list of the academic and professional credentials according to each trade when you investigate the NAFTA list.
Aside from the professions and qualifications, another common question that crops up about a TN visa is if it requires a sponsorship?
TN Visa Sponsorship and Scenarios
The most straightforward answer to whether you need sponsorship or not for a TN Visa is no – at least not in the way how sponsorship works for Green Cards or an H-1B Visa. However, a lot of employers don’t understand what it involves and they may have limited knowledge about how TN Visas work.
The first thing that employers and employees need to know is that the TN Visa is available to Mexican and Canadian nationals only.
Usually, Green Cards and H-1B come with an extended process that involves hiring a company that can help you fulfil immigration compliance requirements. The company will also help you file a petition with the government of the United States. These requirements are also known as “sponsorship.”
The difference of the “sponsorship” of Green Cards and H-1B is that TN Visa doesn’t have the same requirements. The TN Visa is a type of visa that a Mexican or Canadian citizen can acquire at the border when they show a job offer letter from a company to the US government. Employers don’t need to report, file a petition or accomplish any compliance requirements. The applicant only needs to settle a fee of $50 when they are at the border. This is one of the simplest explanations to differentiate the “sponsorship” most people know for H-1B and Green Cards.
Getting the TN Visa
Getting the TN Visa all boils down to preparation. If you saw that your profession, academic background, and work experience already qualify for the visa under the NAFTA, then you need to put together the right documents. Make sure you have the following before applying for a TN Visa:
- Proof of citizenship like birth certificate, passport or other similar types of document.
- Evidence of the proposed employment or business activity.
- Proof of eligibility under Chapter 15, Schedule 2 of NAFTA including:
- offer of employment
- documents/copies of your diploma, certificates, and educational degrees
- letter of reference from an existing or previous employer to support your experience and background
Additionally, it’s best if you have a letter that shows why you qualify or meet the standards. If you have been denied entering the country previously, this may affect your chances of working or visiting the country in the future.
If you want to move with your family, then you may also take them with you. Any dependent of yours will be given a “Trade Dependent” or TD status. The TD status will remain valid as long as your TN Visa is valid. However, this status does not grant any of your dependents the right to work in the United States. If your spouse wishes to work as well then, he or she may have to get their own TN visa.
Why Choose the TN visa?
As a Mexican or Canadian citizen, it is your best and fastest option. As mentioned, you don’t need as many requirements or sponsorship. You don’t need to wait for your immigration status. It does not have a maximum length of stay, and you can renew continually. Lastly, you can also save on taxes because you qualify as a non-resident.
A TN visa usually stretches up to three years. You can renew your visa for additional years. More importantly, there is no limit on how long you have a TN Visa status. Do take note that the TN Visa is categorized as “temporary.” Before you get it, you should be able to demonstrate that you intend to leave the country once the visa expires or your assignment concludes.
You might encounter the government asking specifically asking about your intent to enter or renew. The good thing is that you can get help for the employer to file any extensions you require in the future.
TN Visas Are Not Always Easy To Get
As easy as it sounds to file a TN visa, it is still in your best interest to consult an experienced US immigration lawyer and have them help you file your application. The truth is TN applications can vary in complexity depending on the job being applied for and the unique circumstances of the applicant. US Immigration officers also have very specific things they look for in applications that are not always evident to employers and applicants. So for the best chance of a successful application it’s wise to consult with an experienced US immigration lawyer with extensive TN Visa experience.