Provides a quick overview of the NAFTA TN visa classification.
TN Visa Basics
- Only available for citizens of Canada or Mexico. - Work authorization is limited to 63 occupational categories. - Work authorization can be issued for 0-3 years. - Need an employer to sponsor for visa. Work authorization is employer specific. No self-employment allowed. - No annual numerical limitation like the H-1B visa. - No Labor Condition Application, wage requirements, testing job market, or advertisement requirements. - No visa stamp required of Canadian citizens; Mexican citizens must obtain TN visa stamp. - No limit on the number of TNs provided continue to meet temporary entry requirements. - May perform training functions.
Requirements for TN Visa
1. Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico. 2. Must have an offer of employment for a professional occupation listed under NAFTA. Sixty-three occupations available. 3. Must satisfy the educational and/or experience requirements for the occupation listed under NAFTA.
Basic Application Package
1. Employer Support Letter describing nature of position, applicant’s credentials, and employment duration and compensation. 2. Degrees, diplomas, certificates and other credentials to establish eligibility for TN category. 3. Valid passport (some exceptions e.g. NEXUS). 4. Proof of Canadian / Mexican citizenship (passport satisfies this requirement). 5. DS-160 Visa Application form for Mexican citizens. 6. Government filing fees.
Canadians: Submit application at U.S. border port-of-entry, pre-flight inspection office, or international U.S. airport. A U.S. CBP officer will interview the applicant to determine eligibility for the TN visa. If approved, I-94 card issued the same day at the border. The I-94 evidences the individual's TN visa status and can be valid for 0-3 years. Mexicans: Submit DS-160 application at U.S. consulate for TN visa stamp. A U.S. consular officer will interview the applicant to determine eligibility for the TN visa. Present TN visa stamp at border for I-94 card. A U.S. CBP officer will also interview the applicant to determine eligibility for admission to the U.S. under the TN visa.
Extensions & Changes
After approval may extend TN visa status by mail using Form I-129. If present in U.S. under another nonimmigrant visa classification, may file by mail for a change of status to TN visa status using Form I-129. If in U.S. can change employers by mail using Form I-129. Caveat: Cannot work with new employer until petition is approved. May also request change of employer, or “extend” or “change” status, by filing new application at border (Canadians) or obtaining new TN visa stamp at U.S. Consulate (Mexicans).
Maintenance of TN Visa Status
TN visa workers must continue to work with their sponsored employer in the approved TN occupational category in order to maintain their lawful immigration status. Working for a different employer, engaging in self-employment, or working in a different position than described in the TN visa application can be considered a violation of status, and may lead to immigration penalties. If terminated or laid-off, a TN visa worker must file for a TN visa with a new employer, change status, or depart the U.S. by his/her employment end-date to avoid penalties. There is no grace period in this situation.
TN Visa & Green Card
TN visa applicants may not possess immigrant intent, i.e. they may only seek temporary entry into the U.S. without the intent to establish permanent residence. TN visa workers may intend to immigrate to the U.S. in the future and file for a green card based on an employment or family relationship.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may obtain TD visa status in the same manner as the TN visa worker. Family members may be admitted for the same duration as the TN visa worker. TD visa holders may study, but cannot work under TD visa status.