Everything Employers Should Know About TN Visa Program
Learn everything agricultural employers should know about the TN visa program to hire skilled professionals for skilled job positions.
The TN Visa allows Mexican and Canadian nationals to come to the United States for specialized employment positions such as those found within the agricultural industry.
Agricultural businesses regularly seek dependable and skilled workers using U.S. temporary visa programs such as the nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional visa (TN), which is available to citizens of Mexico and Canada.
With a TN visa, Mexican and Canadian citizens can come to the United States to work in specialty positions. However, the TN visa process for an employer often seems daunting, and many are plagued with questions. Who is eligible for a TN visa? What are the fees? Where do employers submit applications?
A TN visa is a nonimmigrant employment visa that allows Mexican and Canadian citizens to work in the United States in very specific professional occupations. The TN status was established as a result of an arrangement made under the U.S. – Mexico – Canada (USMCA) agreement, (previously known as the North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA).The agreement was developed to foster economic and trade relationships between the three countries. In addition, the agreement has been a boon to agricultural recruiting for farmers and businesses seeking skilled professionals.
A TN authorization enables certain qualified Mexican and Canadian citizens to stay and work within the United States as long as the job falls under the pre-approved list of NAFTA professions. With a TN status, the visa recipient can stay for up to three years in the U.S. and renew indefinitely – as long as the recipient still has employment.
To obtain a TN Visa, an applicant must work in a NAFTA approved profession. Although an applicant’s job title need not match the NAFTA approved profession list verbatimly, each job’s requirements must still closely resemble the NAFTA requirement to increase the odds of visa approval. A background in one of the required professions and verifiable educational degree (typically a bachelor’s degree) associated with one of the professional categories is needed.
TN Visa for Agricultural Industry Professionals
Agricultural businesses such as farms, horticultural growers, and others can use the TN visa petition to bring in skilled professionals into the US to assist in bringing food to the table. In such circumstances, agricultural businesses seek talented job candidates to fill their need because such businesses are having a tough time finding qualified candidates to fill open positions due to highly competitive recruiting and hiring processes.
Common agricultural careers filled by a TN visa holders include:
Agricultural executive recruiting regularly works with such professionals to meet the needs of agriculture businesses, companies, farms, dairies, and animal breeders.
TN Visa Application Process
The application process for the TN visa differs between Canadians and Mexicans, although both visas require that you establish a non-immigrant intent when you apply. This process shows immigration officials that applicants do not plan on staying in the U.S. permanently and that each intends to eventually return to their home country. The applicant is simply entering the U.S. for professional reasons.
Canadian TN Visa Application
Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S embassy or consulate. Canadians can establish their TN eligibility and obtain a TN status at the time they are admitted into the U.S. The process is very straightforward and requires that each applicant present all required documentation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer located at a designated port of entry. The process can also be conducted at certain pre-flight inspection stations.
The following documents must be presented to the CBP officers to gain a TN visa:
Proof of Canadian citizenship
Your prospective agricultural employer can also apply for your TN visa on your behalf. If you opt to have your future employer apply for your TN visa, then your employer must submit Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Upon approval of the Form I-120, you can then apply to the CBP for admittance into the U.S. as a TN nonimmigrant. The following documentation is required and must be presented to the CBP officer at the designated port of entry or the pre-flight inspection station:
Mexican TN Visa Application
Mexican TN visa applicants must apply for a TN visa before entering the U.S. Each applicant should apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate. There are several steps, and the order of steps must be followed. In some situations, how the steps are completed vary spending on the various embassies and consulates.
Complete the Visa Application Form (Online)
After completing Form DS-160, you’ll need to schedule an interview appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate. If possible, try to schedule the interview early in the day because the wait time is often long. Many locations allow you to check the wait time prior to your interview so you’ll have a better idea of how long the process will take.
Preparing for the Interview
You’ll be required to pay an application fee for your TN visa and also pay an issuance fee. Payment for the issuance fee depends on your nationality, though in some situations, you might not be required to pay the issuance fee.
Bring the following documents with you to your interview at the U.S embassy or consulate:
§ Purpose of your entry into the United States
§ Description outlining your employment responsibilities
§ Length of your stay in the U.S.
§ Your educational requirements and credentials for the job.
§ Pay arrangements
§ Include any documents that prove you meet the minimum requirements set forth by the NAFTA profession.
In some situations, the Embassy or Consulate might request additional documents following your interview or to further prove your eligibility for the position.
Once your application is approved, you’ll need to participate in an immigration interview to move your TN visa application process forward.
Spouses and Minor Children of a TN Visa Holder
Spouses and children under the age of 21 (known as TN-dependents or TD) are also eligible for entry with the primary TN visa holder. There are differences between how Canadians and Mexicans can enter the U.S. Minors cannot work in the U.S., but they are allowed to attend U.S. schools.
Canadians entering on a TN are not required to obtain visas for their spouse or minor children before entry. All that is required is proof of Canadian citizenship at a port of entry and proof of their relationship to the TN visa holder. They can then enter the United States under the TN category. Oftentimes, a passport, marriage certificate, or birth certificate are required to demonstrate a relationship.
Concerns Involving the TN Visa
FAQ Questions Concerning a TN Visa
Below are a few frequently asked questions concerning a TN Visa
How long can you stay in the U.S. on a TN Visa?
The maximum amount of time you can stay in the United States on a TN visa is three years. However, on paper, a TN visa is extendable in three-year increments indefinitely as long as the visa holder satisfies all necessary requirements.
There are many things that can influence the time you’ll be allowed to stay in the U.S. with a TN visa. Under current laws and regulations, you can live and work in the U.S. for three years with a TN visa, but immigration officials determine how long the TN visa is valid.
The time period allotted for your stay is determined when you apply for the visa and is typically based on how long your employment in the U.S. is projected to last. For this reason, it is important that the employment letter you present states the employment time period accurately.
How can I extend the TN Visa?
A TN visa holder can extend his/her TN visa in one of two ways. First, the applicant’s employer can file Form I-129 prior to the expiration of the worker’s current visa, while the applicant remains in the U.S. The second method is via a U.S. port of entry –TN visas can be extended at a US Port of Entry. If renewing via the port of entry, an updated offer of employment along with other supporting documents must be submitted.
Can I change employers if I’m in the U.S. with a TN visa?
Yes, you can change employers if you have a TN visa. The new employer will need to obtain a TN visa approved by the USCIS before you can start working for them. A Canadian citizen can also submit a new TN application page that shows the new employer.
Agricultural work is often seasonal or dependent on the whims of Mother Nature, so it is common for TN visa holders to switch agricultural employers when working in the U.S.
What are the Benefits of the TN Visa?
Below are a few benefits of the TN visa:
A TN visa lets you stay in the U.S. for up to three years. There is no limit to how many times you can extend your TN visa. With the TN visa, you can legally stay and live in the U.S. for many years without worry as long as you continue to extend your visa when required and your employment position remains active.
Unlike the H2B or H1B visa, there is no quota for a TN visa. This is a huge bonus for the visa holders and also for the agricultural business.
No Required Labor Certification
With TN visa classifications, agricultural businesses are not required to get an approved Labor Certification. The Labor Certification is required for other visa types (i.e H2B) to certify that the U.S. agricultural employer was unable to find suitable US workers to fill the position for which they were hiring.
Most agricultural businesses do not like the process of getting a Labor Certification because it takes an excessive amount of time and effort. Luckily, the TN visa requires no Labor Certification so the ag business or farmer can offer you the job without trying to hire within the U.S. first.
The TN visa is eligible for Premium Processing which is offered by the USCIS. It means that the USCIS will answer your petition within 15 days or less for an additional fee. This is ideal if you or your future employer wants you to start work quickly in the U.S. and you do not want to wait an excessive amount of time for approval.
What are the Requirements for a TN Visa?
To qualify for a TN visa, you must meet the following requirements:
How do you satisfy the educational and professional requirements of the TN visa?
In order to qualify for a TN visa, you must show that you satisfy the professional and educational requirements of the US job being offered. Typically, you will be required to have at least a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree. A 3-year degree can qualify as a baccalaureate, so it does not have to be a 4-year degree to meet the requirement. The degree must be in the field of your TN occupation or a related field.
If your degree, diploma, or certificate is earned outside the US, Canada, or Mexico then you’ll need to submit a credentials evaluation that proves your certificate, degree or diploma is comparable to a Canadian, Mexican or US equivalent.
What documents are needed to apply for a TN visa?
To gain a TN visa approval, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the necessary documents. The TN visa is a specialized visa that focuses on the skills and education of the visa applicant, so you’ll need to have documents highlighting your unique credentials.
Below is a list of common documents that you need to apply for a TN visa:
How to transition from a TN visa to a green card?
Not every TN visa holder dreams of obtaining a green card. In fact, the TN visa is classified as a nonimmigrant visa and the TN visa applicant is required to show proof that they have no intention of trying to obtain permanent residency. However, after entering the U.S. with a TN visa, a worker can try to obtain a green card.
As previously mentioned, the TN visa is a non-immigrant visa and is not supposed to be used as a stepping stone to gain a green card; however, sometimes, life happens and things change. When transitioning from a TN visa to a green card, you’ll need to apply for an adjustment of status or apply for an immigrant visa approach. The term ‘adjustment of status’ refers to when you switch from a nonimmigrant classification to an immigrant classification.
The process can be conducted within the U.S., which eliminates the need to return to one’s country of origin. In fact, you are required by law to be present in the United States at the time that you file the adjustment of status petition. You’ll need to file a Form I-485 with USCIS.
Please be aware that applying for an immigrant visa is different from filing an adjustment of status. Immigrant visa applications are conducted at a U.S consulate. The process always requires that you undergo a visa interview with the U.S. Consulate.
Whether you request an adjustment of status or you opt to apply for an immigrant visa, you’ll need to obtain approval for an immigrant classification by filling out and filing a Form I-140 with USCIS.
A TN professional can have the US company that you are working for sponsor you to transition from the TN visa to a green card. If an ag business that you are working with agrees to sponsor you for a green card, then they will need to apply and get approval for a Labor Certification.
The Department of Labor issues the Labor Certification. In order to obtain a Labor Certification, a U.S. company or farm must show that it has tried to secure a qualified US worker to fill the position but was unable to find a qualified worker. Once the Labor Certification is approved then the US company is eligible to sponsor the TN visa holder for a green card.
The transition from a TN classification to a green card shows non-immigrant intent so things can quickly become complicated. Obtaining approval for an immigrant petition causes significant conflict with the non-immigrant intent of the TN Visa. If you are seeking approval for an immigrant petition, then it shows you clearly have an immigration intent. It is important to seek skilled legal assistance when going through the process.
Are TN visa holders’ resident aliens?
If you have resided in the U.S. for three years with a TN status, then you are often considered a resident foreigner or what the IRS refers to as a ‘resident alien.’ The term ‘resident alien’ is used by the IRS for tax purposes. It is based on the total number of days you have spent in the U.S. in the last three years. If you live in Canada or Mexico and commute into the U.S. for work, then you are not considered a resident alien.
What happens if my employer lays me off?
When working in the ag industry, many variables can impact business such as weather and animal health. A farmer is often forced to lay off even professional workers if their bottom line starts slipping. If you are laid off, then you must depart the United States
if you cannot find employment with a sponsoring employer. In some situations, you might be eligible to change your status, so you have time to look for employment before you are forced to depart. However, a TN visa status is not indefinite, especially if you are seeking another employer.
Can I study in the US if I am a TN Visa holder?
Many individuals, especially those working for agricultural businesses, local farms, animal breeders, and dairies, often work for more than one employer. You are allowed to obtain a TN visa status that lets you work for more than one U.S. employer at the same time. When a TN visa is first issued, it is employer specific. However, a second TN visa application can also be filed for a new employer if you plan on holding more than one job simultaneously.
How long can you stay in the U.S. after the TN visa expires?
Once your TN visa expires, you have a 10-day grace period that starts after the end date of your stay. During the 10-day grace period, you are not allowed to work. The 10-day grace period is provided so you can prepare to leave the U.S. and make your travel plans. During the time period, you can also opt to change your status.
Can you freelance on a TN visa?
It is often tempting to freelance on a TN visa, but this is prohibited. You’re not allowed to freelance as a TN visa holder in the U.S. In fact, you cannot do any type of work outside of the employment specified in your TN visa petition. You can file to work for more than one employer, but you cannot freelance for yourself.
Can you work part time on a TN visa?
TN visa workers are allowed to work part time. However, U.S. immigration officials often examine any reason for denial if a TN visa petition is for part time employment under the public charge of inadmissibility.
Can I get a social security number with a TN Visa?
A TN visa worker can obtain a social security number (SSN). The worker must apply for a SSN in person at a Social Security Administration office. The individual must complete an Application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5) while providing two forms of identification which so the TN visa holder’s age, identity, and TN work authorization.
Do I pay taxes with a TN visa?
Yes, TN visa holders must pay U.S. taxes. However, Canada signed a totalization agreement with the U.S. which may exempt the TN Visa holder from taxes.
Does a U.S. employer have to notify the government when they terminate a TN visa worker?
There is no requirement in place that requires the employer to notify the government if they terminate the TN worker or they both mutually agree to end their employment relationship.
Is it hard to get a TN visa?
Is there a lottery for a TN visa?