Everything Employers Should Know About TN Visa Program
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.
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)
Form DS-160 can be completed online, and once you have completed the form, be sure to print the confirmation page. You’ll be required to take the confirmation page with you to the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. Typically, you’ll need a photograph to complete your Form DS-160.
Once your TN visa is approved, you can apply to be admitted at a designated CBP port of entry or at a designated pre-flight inspection station.
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:
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.
Spouses and children of a Mexican TN visa holder must apply for a TD non-immigrant visa at a consulate or U.S embassy before entering the United States. They are typically required to have a valid passport, and pay the TD visa application fee.
In addition, they also must prove their relationship to the TN visa worker and provide proof showing the TN visa worker’s status. Acceptable proof showing a relationship with the TN visa holder includes a marriage certificate or birth certificate.
Concerns Involving the TN Visa
As with any government program, there are always concerns. Unlike other visa types, the TN visa program saves agricultural businesses and other U.S. companies a sizable amount of money because they do not need to pay excessive fees.
There is no requirement to spend an excessive amount of time trying to hire US. workers to fill the position before hiring a skilled foreign professional. Also, unlike other visa types, there is no cap on the number of TN visas issued per year.
The TN visa process is very straightforward and does not require an excessive amount of time to hire a worker using the program. Agricultural recruiters quickly meet the labor needs of farmers and agricultural companies using the visa program. However, unlike the other visa programs, the TN does not afford the protection to the foreign professionals of guaranteeing prevailing wage.
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?
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.
How to transition from a TN visa to a green card?
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?
Can I study in the US if I am a TN Visa holder?
It’s not unusual for a professional to want to continue their education to attain higher degrees. If you are a TN visa holder in the U.S, then you can study either part time or full time. However, you must still continue following the conditions of your original TN Visa. If your TN status expires before you have completed your studies then you can extend your TN visa, change your status to an F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa or you can return to your home country.
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?
You must be properly prepared with all of the necessary supporting documents to obtain a TN visa. If you do not have the proper professional skills or education, then you might have a challenging time getting a TN visa.
Ideally, you should seek the assistance of a qualified TN visa lawyer to streamline the process and ensure it is not overly difficult or time consuming there for the visa holder or the agricultural employer who wants to hire a skilled professional using the TN visa program.
Is there a lottery for a TN visa?
The H1B visa has a cap set at 65,000 for general petitions and 20,000 for Masters petitions which are granted via a lottery every year. However, there is absolutely no cap for the TN visa.
The entire TN visa process is remarkably streamlined, efficient, and relatively faster, which is why so many agricultural businesses are opting to hire skilled employees using the process.
The agricultural industry has embraced the TN visa program as a way to gain valuable professionals to fill key ag positions. If you are an agricultural farmer or business owner who is interested in the TN visa process, please contact Ag Workforce to learn more.