For Canadians and Mexicans who have a job waiting in the US, applying for a TN visa is generally the quickest way to legally work in the country. Many nationals from Canada and Mexico actually prefer to get this visa instead of other visa types. However, getting TN status is not always easy. There are various challenges that may hinder a TN applicant from entering the US, even when they are already at the port of entry.
A primary challenge is meeting its qualifications. TN stands for Trade National or Trade NAFTA, referring to the North American Free Trade Alliance. The TN status is granted only to Canadian and Mexican professionals in occupations listed under United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).There are only about 60 different professions in the list, including doctors, scientists, consultants, college teachers, engineers, accountants, and graphic designers. (For the full list of TN visa jobs, click here.)
For professionals who belong on the list, a further requirement is to have a pre-arranged job position with a US employer. In addition, the visa applicant must meet the specific educational and experience requirements of the profession. All these must be documented with papers such as a job contract, a job offer letter, and proof of license to practice.
Many TN visa applicants have encountered issues with their documentary requirements, especially since visa officers have wide discretion regarding what papers to look for. Some applicants, for example, are requested to present further proof of their job credentials. There are also cases where the job offer letter is scrutinized and deemed inadequate.
Documentation issues are a common reason for a TN visa denial. Another is the applicant’s intent to leave or stay in the US. Since a TN is a temporary work visa (non-immigrant status), an applicant may need to prove that they intend to depart the US after employment or after the three-year validity of the visa has expired.
If it is found that an applicant hopes to stay in the US – for example, if they are planning to apply for a green card once admitted to the country –the visa officer may take this as a questionable sign of the applicant’s intention. Even though applying for a green card is not prohibited for TN visa holders, doing so may still cast doubt on the applicant’s initial TN petition or on the TN renewal process.
An additional hurdle exists for Mexican nationals wanting a TN visa. While Canadians may request this visa directly at their US port of entry, Mexicans have to undergo a more stringent process involving an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in their country.
For an applicant who has been refused a TN visa, whether at a consulate or a port of entry, it may be necessary to hire a TN visa attorney for an effective appeal. However, it is wiser to enlist an immigration lawyer right at the start of the initial visa application to ensure that it is complete and satisfactory in the eyes of visa officers.
If you need assistance regarding your TN visa application, consult with us at Richards and Jurusik for experienced guidance.