Immigration Lawyers for TN Visas in Boston
What is a TN Visa?
The TN Visa category was established by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), of 1994 (today the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)). A TN visa allows qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to be admitted to the US temporarily to engage in “business activities at a professional level” in certain professions, for one or more employers.
Some of the professions that qualify for a TN visa include scientists, engineers, architects, economists, lawyers, accountants, pharmacists, dentists, nutritionists, therapists, veterinarians, nurses, and teachers (see full NAFTA professions list).
Most of the NAFTA professions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. If this is required, experience is not a substitute for the degree. For some professions, experience can be required in addition to the bachelor’s degree (see list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials—Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16).
Who is Eligible for a TN Visa for the US?
To be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status or a TN visa, you must:
- Be a citizen of Canada or Mexico (permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not eligible);
- Have a profession that qualifies under the TN visa regulations;
- Have a full-time or part-time job or an employment offer in the United States that requires a NAFTA professional; (you may not be self-employed); and
- Be qualified to practice in the profession required by the job which is the basis of the application.
TN Visa requirements for Canadian Citizens:
Generally, Canadian citizens are not required to have a TN visa in order to enter and work as a NAFTA professional. Rather, Canadian citizens may apply for entry as a TN non-immigrant at a U.S. designated port of entry. If a Canadian citizen prefers to have a TN visa stamped in their passport, he or she can obtain it at a consulate upon filing the proper application with supporting documents.
When does a Canadian citizen require a TN visa?
Canadian citizens who reside in a third country with a non-Canadian spouse and/or children who plan to come with family to the United States as a NAFTA professional, will need a TN visa in order for the family members to be eligible to apply for derivative TD visas.
TN Visa requirements for Mexican Citizens:
All Mexican citizens are required to have TN visas in order to be admitted to the U.S. under TN nonimmigrant status.
Do TN Petitions Qualify for Premium Processing?
Yes, premium processing is available for TN petitions that may be filed with USCIS by employers seeking TN status for a prospective or current employee. Premium processing provides for expedited processing of certain petitions. With a request for premium processing, the USCIS guarantees processing of the petition within 15 calendar days or it will refund the premium processing service fee and continue to expedite the process.
This, however, does not mean that you will necessarily receive an approval or denial notice within this time, but merely that USCIS will respond within this time. A response can also include a request for additional evidence, a notice of intent to deny, the decision to open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation, etc.
If the petition requires submitting additional evidence or responding to a notice of intent to deny, a new 15 calendar day period will begin when the USCIS receives the requested evidence or response.
Duration of a TN Visa
The TN visa may be granted for as long as the employment offer requires it, up to a maximum of 3 years, and as long as the beneficiary does not have immigrant intent. The CBP officer at the port-of- entry (for Canadian citizens) or the consular officer (for Mexican citizens) will determine the length of the TN employee’s authorized period of stay. If the TN visa holder decides to change employers, they will be required to present a new TN application.
The TN visa, unlike the H-1B or L-1 visas, is not a dual intent visa and the visa holder must maintain “non-immigrant” intent. However, this factor does not prevent an employer from filing an LCA (Labor Condition Application) “Perm” and an I-140 immigrant visa petition for the TN visas holder.
TN Visa Renewal /Extension
TN visa status may be extended indefinitely in increments of up to 3 years, as long as the job offer is still in place and the TN status holder has maintained his or her nonimmigrant status.
While employers may not file the initial TN visa petition for Mexican nationals with USCIS, they may however apply for the Mexican national’s TN visa renewal. A Mexican national may also renew their TN visa at a point of entry in addition to a U.S. consulate / embassy.
Note: If a person renews the TN visa several times, the government may question the person’s non-immigrant intent and deny further extensions of the TN visa. It is recommended to speak with a qualified immigration lawyer if your plans change and you believe you will remain in the U.S. permanently.
Family Benefits of a TN Visa
Children under 21 years of age and spouses of a TN visa holder may be eligible to apply for TD nonimmigrant status, regardless of whether they are accompanying or “following to join” the TN visa holder. Bear in mind that you must show the ability to financially support your family in the U.S. if you plan on bringing them.
Spouses and children are allowed to study in the U.S., but not permitted to work. The TD status for spouses and children cannot last longer than the period of time granted to the TN visa holder.
Note: If a TN visa holder applies for an extension of stay at the end of their admission period, any eligible family member under TD status may also apply to extend their status without leaving the U.S.
If a Mexican TD dependent travels abroad after the approval of an extension of stay and their TD visa is expired, they will be required to apply for a new TD visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate to be allowed back into the United States in TD status.
Documents Needed for a TN Visa
The following documents are needed to apply for a TN Visa whether with USCIS, at a consulate / embassy, or at a point of entry, and originals must be shown at the interview if requested:
- A Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements).
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page for a U.S. consulate petition (Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport)
- Receipt of Application fee payment, if you are required to pay before interview for a consulate petition
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. (A photo is not required if you are applying in Mexico.)
- Contract of employment in the U.S. or job offer letter confirming your future employment in one of the accepted professional occupations listed in Appendix 1306.d.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16. Specifically, the letter should include:
- Purpose of entry;
- A detailed description of your job responsibilities or business activity
- Anticipated length of stay in the U.S.;
- Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating your professional status;
- Evidence of your compliance with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations and/or state laws; and
- Your salary or payment terms
- Documents proving that you possess the minimum education and/or work experience requirements set forth in Appendix 1603.d.1 of NAFTA chapter 16 – Education evidence include degrees, diplomas, certificates, professional licenses, and /or membership in professional organizations.
- Evidence of work experience include letters from former employers. If you were self-employed, provide your business records (i.e. financial statements, taxes, etc.)
Process to Apply for a TN Visa
There are different processes to get a TN visa depending if you are a Canadian or Mexican national.
If you are a Canadian National:
Once you have a job offer/employment contract documentation from prospective employer, you have 3 options to apply for the TN visa
- You may apply at a port of entry:
- Bring your TN supporting documentation and original documents to the Canada – U.S. border or to Pre-Flight Inspection at a Canadian airport;
- There, US immigration officers will review the application and issue an I-94 card if approved
You may apply for a TN visa at a consulate:
Following the same process as for Mexican nationals, if you prefer to do consulate processing and having the visa stamped on your passport as opposed to getting your visa application reviewed at the border.
Your prospective employer may file a TN application with USCIS:
A prospective TN employer may also file a TN application on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is outside the United States by submitting Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS.
Upon approval of Form I-129, the TN prospective employee may apply for admission as a TN non-immigrant at a U.S. CBP designated port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station showing the following documents:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- Form I-129 Approval Notice from USCIS; and
- Proof of qualifications for the offered job.
If you are a Mexican National:
- Prepare DS-160 application and supporting documents
- Schedule an appointment at a U.S. consulate in Mexico
- Present TN application with supporting documents and original documents at the consulate appointment, including a job offer letter/employment contract from the prospective employer;
- Consular officer will evaluate petition and issue the visa stamp in your passport if approved; and
- You will receive the I-94 upon entry into the U.S.
What are the Costs to Apply for a TN Visa?
There are generally two different costs involved in preparing and applying for a TN visa:
- The TN visa attorney fees (see our legal fees for an TN visa), and
- The TN visa fee with the DS-160 or USCIS filing fees for the I-129, depending on the process, plus the filing fee for an I-907 if you will be requesting premium processing (always verify the USCIS filing fees as these change regularly)
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