One of the special provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the creation of a special non-immigrant visa program, the TN visa, that would make it easier for professionals to work throughout the constituent countries. Even though NAFTA has since been replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the visa has remained mostly unchanged.
Although it is thought of as an aspect of business immigration, the visa is actually a non-immigrant visa that has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. One of the benefits, though, is that the process is a little more streamlined and quicker than for traditional visas. However, any mistake in filling out forms or being unprepared for part of the process can lead to unnecessary delays. When you work with a firm like Passage Immigration Law, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress by knowing that you are following the proper process and that our team is ready to help you with any challenges.
TN visas are a unique opportunity that makes it easier for professionals in Mexico and Canada to cross borders and work in the United States. However, because it’s so unique, it’s important to realize some of the visa’s limitations and distinguishing aspects. First of all, the option to work on a TN visa is limited to individuals working in certain professions that are elaborated in the agreements between the countries. Generally, these are professional jobs that require a degree or even a special license. Before applying, you will want to be certain that your profession is one that qualifies.
It’s also important to realize that those on a TN visa are non-immigrants. This means that they are not on a path to any kind of permanent residency, like a green card, or to citizenship. In this sense, a TN is almost akin to a travel visa, where there is a finite limit to how long the traveler can stay. In the case of a TN visa, that limit spans years. You can stay for three years on the initial visa, and this can be extended in one-year increments. This means you will have to demonstrate that you intend to maintain ties to your home country and only work in the United States temporarily. However, because TN visas don’t have any annual quota, the wait time to enter on one is often very short or non-existent.
A TN visa is dependent upon employment. This means that you cannot get a TN visa and operate as your own business. You must have a job offer establishing that you will be engaged in an employer-employee relationship. You will need to work with the employer to get a letter describing the job, start date, salary, and other information pertinent to the situation. If you switch jobs, your TN employer can be changed by submitting a new application and ensuring that all the proper requirements are met. You may also work as an independent contractor if your employer establishes control over you. You may even work for multiple employers, but you must submit a TN application for each one.
All necessary documentation, including necessary forms, a passport, an employment offer, and other paperwork, must be brought to the U.S. Consulate. Typically, there will need to be an interview as part of the process. The time until an interview will vary. Once approved, you may enter through a port of entry.
For Canadian citizens, it is not necessary to get a visa prior to arrival at the border. Instead, you can present all the necessary documentation at the border, and an official will determine if you qualify or not after reviewing that material. If your application is accepted, then you will be granted entry.
It is possible for spouses and dependents under the age of 21 to join the profession on a TN visa as long as they receive a TD visa. Eligibility for this visa does not require spouses or children to be citizens of either Mexico or Canada. They must, though, have some proof of their relationship to the TN holder.
To enter from Canada, those who are Canadian citizens will not need to get a visa ahead of time, but they will need to bring proper documentation to a port of entry. This includes copies of the documents being used by the TN applicant. If, though, the spouse and children aren’t Canadian citizens, they will need to visit a United States consulate or embassy to apply for a TD visa. A visit to an embassy or consulate will also be required for the spouses and children of Mexican citizens. While in the United States, these spouses and children will not be allowed to work. They are, though, allowed to study.
It is possible to extend your TN visa. The initial visa is for three years, and extensions will generally be in three-year increments as well. An extension can take time to process, sometimes up to several months. It’s a good idea to start planning your extension well before your current TN visa expires. If, though, your extension is pending when your current TN expires, you will be able to continue working and living in the United States until a final decision is reached. To extend your TN visa, you will need similar documentation as with the initial application. The extension is typically done through a petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
If everything goes perfectly smoothly, the TN visa process can be quick, easy, and done without help. Unfortunately, while not technically an immigrant visa, the process is often subject to the same kinds of challenges that immigration cases face. The reality is that the process can be complex. More importantly, any aspect of your application that doesn’t, at first glance, appear to fit the criteria might lead to delays, even if you are actually qualified.
It’s important to have everything properly presented the first time. Additionally, it’s critical to ensure that you have all the proper paperwork and documentation so that there aren’t unnecessary delays. These are some of the things that you can avoid by working with a TN lawyer. When you work with a TN lawyer from Passage Immigration Law, you can get help that is tailored to the specifics of your situation. Some of the things that we can help with include:
There are some circumstances in which working with a lawyer can be particularly valuable. Certain situations could, without the help of a lawyer, be seen as a default reason to deny your entry. These are not always strict rules, though, and there may be legal maneuvering that can address the situation or find available alternatives. If you have any of the following situations, you should reach out to us for help with your options:
A TN visa can be a great way to get talented individuals from Canada and Mexico into the United States. However, as with all things visa-related, the process can be complex and challenging to follow precisely. Even one of the more straightforward visa programs, like a TN visa, still requires a number of forms, verifications, and approval. Of course, any error can lead to significant delays, beyond the inevitable obstacles that come with working with large bureaucracies. It can be helpful to work with someone who has a strong understanding of the TN visa process.
At Passage Immigration Law, we have experience with the challenges that come up throughout the visa process. We can help you with those issues if they come up, but we can also help you avoid some of them in the first place. It’s important to have your forms and documentation in proper order, and we can help you make sure that you have everything you need. Contact us to discuss your TN visa situation.
"*" indicates required fields