How TN Visas Can Help with RN Labor Shortage
The United States has been experiencing a nursing shortage for over a decade and in the last couple of years the problem has reached a critical state.
Using the TN visa program, thousands of Mexicans and Canadians have been able to develop long-term working relationships as beneficial and productive professionals in the United States.
How bad is the RN shortage?
Non-Immigrant TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican Registered Nurses
The least complicated pathway into the United States for a registered nurse to work is the TN visa for Canadian and Mexican nationals. The TN visa classification for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) allows nurses with non-immigrant intentions to work in the U.S.,
Visa-exempt Canadian nationals are allowed to apply for a TN-1 admission with documentation at a U.S. port of entry or during a preflight inspection. Mexican nationals must apply for the TN-2 stamp via the U.S. Consulate before entering the U.S.
Mexican and Canadian registered nurses seeking entrance into the U.S. with a TN visa must have a valid passport from their country of origin. They also must possess a provincial or state nursing license or possess a Licenciatura Degree.
All RNs are required to show where they intend to work along with a valid job offer from a U.S. employer. They also must agree to acquire Visa Screen credentials from the CGFNS (Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools) which clearly shows they possess the required education, licenses, and exam scores. They also must display proficiency in the English language.
How can the TN visa program help with the RN shortage?
Who qualifies for a TN visa?
The TN visa category provides nonimmigrant status to qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter into the United States to work. In order to qualify, visa applicants must:
There is not a separate application or category for different professions, but each visa applicant must show they meet the qualifications to practice their profession in the United States. For RNs, which means:
What’s the process for getting a TN visa?
The process of obtaining work authorization under the TN visa program varies depending on the applicant. Because Canadian citizens are not required to have a visa in order to enter or stay in the United States, the process may begin at the border.
The RN will need to show proof that they have secured potential placement with a U.S. based employer. Canadian RNs may submit their proof of eligibility for the temporary work authorization under the TN category directly to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents at a port of entry, pay the TN processing fee and be admitted upon approval.
Because Mexican nationals require a visa in order to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant, the process must begin before arriving in the United States. Mexican nationals must:
While providing proof of RN licensure is not required for the TN visa classification, it is required for the job itself, and it makes TN nonimmigrants even stronger candidates. Because strong candidates without any disqualifications are rarely denied, providing the best evidence possible is always a clever idea.
Additional TN Visa Considerations
Below are a few common considerations concerning TN visas and RNs.
If the spouse or children apply for a TD visa at a different time than the nurse applies for the TN visa, then they will be required to show proof of the RN’s TN status such as a copy of the I-94.
Non-Canadian spouses and children are required to apply at the U.S. consulate for a TD visa even if the nurse is not Canadian.
Proof of relationship can include:
What must employers do to hire TN visa RNs?
Consider, for example, the exceptions to the student visa off-campus employment restrictions. A healthcare facility may employ a nursing student in Curricular Practice Training (CPT) or Optional Practice Training (OPT) capacity and want to hire that student after graduation and licensure. At this time, the visa holder would apply to adjust status from a student visa to a TN nonimmigrant visa, and the employer will need to file their petition.
Only one I-129 needs to be filed if the RNs will all be employed for the same period of time, which, considering the long-term projected need of the healthcare profession for RNs, is for the three years admission allowed by the TN classification. In order to strategically plan for the future, employers who are seeking to fill gaps in their RN labor force may want to consider how an experienced business immigration attorney can help them streamline their employment processes to avoid unnecessary paperwork and fees.
What’s the timeline to get a TN visa?
What are the conditions and limitations of a TN visa?
For visa beneficiaries, it is important to consider that the TN visa program is not a dual intent visa, and so it will be necessary to continue to demonstrate the intent to return to the home country at the end of the employment period. The spouse and eligible children of TN visa beneficiaries can also apply for TD visa status, which will allow them to live in the United States for the duration of the TN visa holder’s I-94.
Can you change employers with a TN visa?
If you are an RN in the country on a TN visa, then your visa is employer specific and only good with your current employer who must satisfy all of the requirements to employ TN visa holders. If you need to change employers, then you’ll want to make sure that the new applicant is approved for TN status . Remember, it is a violation of the immigration law to work for a different employer than the one listed on your I-94 card.
If you wish to change employers while in the U.S. on a TN visa, then you can handle the process in one of two ways:
1. Form I-129
TN visa holders who want to change employers but continue working as a registered nurse for the new employer can file a form I-129 with the USCIS. The TN visa holder can remain in the U.S. as the paperwork for the new employer is processed. The processing time is often lengthy, especially if the processing service center is backlogged. A foreign worker employment agency can help with the paperwork to help ensure a smooth transition.
2. Port of Entry Application
Applying at a port of entry is basically like applying for a new TN. The process is the same except that the RN can present their job offer and a letter from the new employer combined with all other documents directly to the CBP officer.
The application is always subject to the same scrutiny as any other TN visa application so always pay close attention to detail to ensure that everything is correct, and you have all documentation on-hand. You’ll receive a decision about the TN visa the same day when you conduct the process at the port of entry. In addition, you avoid having to pay the USCIS filing fee by taking care of the process at the port of entry.
Do TN Visa Holders Pay Federal Taxes?
As a registered nurse with a TN visa working in the U.S., you’ll need to pay three main tax categories: Federal Income Tax, Medicare/Social Security, and Federal Unemployment Tax. How you file and which you pay depends on tax treated and totalization agreements that exist between the United States and your home country.
Social Security and Medicare
Whether or not a TN visa holder will pay Social Security and Medicare taxes will depend on the Totalization Agreement between their country and the United States.
Canada has a Totalization Agreement with the U.S. so any Canadian with a TN visa is not required to pay Social Security taxes.
Mexico’s Social Security Totalization Agreement is not currently in effect so Mexican citizens who are in the U.S. on a TN visa must pay Social Security taxes.
In some situations, your TN profession might not be subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. You’ll want to check out the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide to determine your particular profession’s status.
The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) requires that employers cover unemployment compensation at both the state and federal levels. The FUTA rate is 6% but the wage base does vary between states. The unemployment tax is never withheld from the wages of a TN visa holder. It is the responsibility of the employer to pay the federal unemployment tax.
Do You Pay State Taxes on a TN Visa?
States within the U.S. have individual income tax systems. If you earn wages, then you can typically expect to pay a state tax. Depending on the state, they usually follow the federal tax income rate, but TN visa holders usually pay slightly more. Many of the states do not recognize any taxes paid outside the U.S. when imposing taxes.
Does Hiring Foreign RNs Impact American Nurses?
The U.S. population is aging and increasing. It is forecast that the number of U.S. citizens aged 65 and older will reach 87.5 million by 2050. The workforce is also shrinking. The COVID19 pandemic has even impacted those numbers more dramatically in the last two years. Hiring foreign nurses promises to help fill the healthcare gaps without negatively impacting American nursing jobs. Despite the proponents, some do oppose the influence of foreign nurses due to a belief that they will lower the wages of the current domestic nurses.
The CBDP or USCIS can deny a TN visa application for a variety of reasons.
In admissibility can occur due to:
If a TN visa is denied then the applicant can reapply, but things might not be as clear cut the second time. Returning applicants usually have their applications more precisely reviewed with even greater scrutiny.
A CBP officer is often reluctant to rule against a previous application denial. Such a situation is especially true if the applicant is unable to satisfactorily overcome the first denial’s issues.
TN Visa Extension/Renewal
For those changing their TN employers but working under the same professional occupation, they can reapply by filing Form I-129 with the USCIS. This option allows the TN visa holders to remain in the U.S. while processing. The downside, however, is that the processing time may be lengthy, especially if the particular service center handling the application has a lot of backlogs. There’s also the Form I-129 filing fee. Still, the TN visa holder and the prospective employer could always opt for premium processing.