1. Documents Needed by TN Visa Applicants
2. Readmission After Previous TN Status
If the applicant was previously admitted into the U.A. with a TN visa and is seeking readmission, then they can often be readmitted for the remaining period authorized on the Form I-94. Simply present the document at the time of applying for the TN visa or TN visa readmission if the original professional activities and employer have not changed.
3. Obtaining an Extension of Stay
An applicant can request an extension of stay which means they wish to have additional time to stay in the U.S. after admission with a TN visa. File the request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Include a document explaining the need for the extension of stay from the U.S. employer. The request must be filed before the visa holder’s permission to remain has expired. All extensions are granted in three-year increments.
4. Changing U.S. Employers
A TN visa applicant can change or add additional employers, but they must first obtain permission by contacting the USCIS before making the change or adding the employers. The TN applicant must have approval from the USCIS for authorization.
The TN visa status is employer-specific, but a TN professional can change employers as long as the new employer meets the needed requirements to have a TN employee. The TN visa holder must have an approved TN status with the new employer before starting work. If a visa holder works for any employer that is not listed on their I-94 card, then they are in direct violation of the immigration law.
Steps to Changing Employers
TN visa holders wishing to change employers should carry out one of the following:
TN holders who wish to change their employers but plan to continue working as the same professional can file a form I-129 with the USCIS. The option lets the TN professional remain in the U.S. as they process their employer change. However, the processing time is often lengthy if the service center is managing a backlog of applications. Also, there is a filing fee for all I-129 forms. To ensure the speed of the process, the visa holder can always opt for premium processing for a higher cost.
Port of Entry
Applying at a port of entry is similar to applying for a new TN using a different employer. The TN professional follows the same process, but they must also present the job offer along with a letter from the employer and required documents at the port of entry to the CBP officer. The entire application process remains the same and is subject to the same scrutiny as the initial first TN application with the first employer. Applicants must pay attention to the details to ensure acceptance.
The U.S. Secretary of Labor must certify that a strike or labor dispute then the U.S. immigration authority may refuse to admit the Mexican or Canadian citizen seeking a TN visa classification because the presence of the foreign visa holder could adversely impact the settlement of the labor dispute.
6. Family of the TN Visa Holder
The family of a TN visa holder can also enter the U.S. The spouse and any children under 21 years old can either accompany the visa holder or join them at a later date. A Form I-94 is issued with an expiration date that reflects the TN visa holder’s expiration date. All dependents are admitted in what is termed a ‘TD visa category.’
There is no filing or application fee for Canadian spouses or children under 21 who want to enter the U.S. with a TN Visa holder. The spouse and children must provide the following documents:
A Mexican spouse and children must have valid passports and U.S. nonimmigrant visas to enter the US. with a TN visa holder. They can obtain the documentation at a U.S. consulate or embassy. The dependents are admitted as TD dependents and are not allowed to work in the U.S.
7. Termination from Employment or Layoff
The TN visa status terminates if the employment associated with the visa comes to an end. Dependents also lose their TD status when the nonimmigrant’s visa status ends.
Once employment is terminated or a layoff occurs, there is no grace period – the TN status automatically ends, and the TN visa holder must immediately return to their home country because they are then classed as ‘out of status.’ When a TN visa holder becomes ‘out of status’ the U.S. government can stain the nonimmigrant and benign deportation proceedings.
8. TN Visa Processing Time Frame
A Canadian citizen applying for a TN visa at a port of entry can expect to spend a few hours waiting for the visa processing to complete. If they petition by mail, then the processing time will depend on the USCIS service center’s caseload.
Processing for an I-129H1 can take up to six months in some cases. However, applicants can pay an additional fee to obtain what is termed ‘premium processing’ which fast tracks the TN petition’s processing time and reduces the weight down to 15 business days.
9. TN Visa Denial
The CBP or the USCIS have the authority to deny a TN visa application or several reasons such as:
What Happens if a TN Visa is Denied?
An applicant who is initially denied a TN visa can always reapply. However, a returning applicant will normally have their application reviewed with a greater degree of scrutiny. Often CBP officers do not want to overturn a previous denial made by another CBP officer.
If the applicant cannot satisfactorily overcome the problems that caused the first denial, then they will probably face another denial of their TN visa application. Any returning applicant should take great care to ensure that they fully resolve any problems that were outlined in the denial before trying again.
10. Educational Evaluations
In some cases, a TN professional who obtained their college or university degrees from an institution that was not located in Mexico, Canada, or the U.S. must have their degree and transcripts evaluated using a foreign credentials evaluation service. The services provide evaluations of your educational credentials and then translate things to reflect the U.S. equivalents.
Educational evaluations aid consular officials in letting them understand and know that the visa applicant has the proper educational requirements for the NAFTA profession for which they are applying.
Difference Between a TN Visa and an H-1B Visa
The TN Visa and the H-1B share similarities, but also have distinct differences.
No Cap/Annual Cap
With the TN visa there is no cap, unlike the H-1B visa which has an annual cap of 85,000 visas allotted. If more applicants than slots occur, then the USCIS will launch a lottery to select visa petitions. The popularity of the H-1B visa makes the odds of being selected slim.
The TN Visa is extendable every three years indefinitely. The H-1B visa is extendable every three years for a maximum of six years.
The TN visa is cheaper than the H-2B visa. Although, the employer covers the majority of the H-1B visa fees.
The TN visa has a very stringent list of only 60 NAFTA careers that qualify. The H-1B visa is more fluid when it comes to qualifying occupations.
With the TN visa, a visa holder cannot seek permanent residency and must provide an intent to return to their home country. Trying to obtain a green card while under a TN status will invalidate the visa status and cause legal consequences. The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa which allows a visa holder to seek permanent legal residency (green card status)
An employer who wants to hire a TN professional must show why they need a NAFTA career holder to fill their job position. The TN visa applicant must make arrangements with the U.S. employer prior to taking the position.
Hiring an TN professional requires no real sponsorship on behalf of the employer and only minimal paperwork. Once the TN status is granted, the employer is no longer required to conduct any particular functions.
In order to stay compliant, a TN professional employer must:
What is a TN Work Status?
NAFTA created a special relationship between the United States, Mexico and Canada forming the TN visa which allowed qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens entry into the U.S. to work in certain NAFTA professions with nonimmigrant visas.
A TN visa is a great voice for the visa holder and the employer. Here are just a few of the benefits of a TN visa:
Is there a prevailing wage or minimum page requirement with the TN visa?
No, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is not involved in the TN visa process. DOL does not verify wages. NAFTA and USCIS officers will review the application for a TN visa status to make sure that the wage being offed is consistent with the profession. As long as the wage offered is comparable to wages typically provided for the profession then there will be no problems or red flags.
Are there any reporting requirements for employers if they hire a TN professional?
No. NAFTA employers do not need to provide reports.
How does an employer verify a TN visa status to ensure the employee a legally work in the U.S.?
The TN professional will have a CBP Form I-94 that shows their work status as TN along with a data of entry and an expiration date. The TN card is stapled to the TN professional’s passport and is valid for the dates indicated on the card. Sometimes the I-94 is issued electronically through CBP’s online I-94 retrieval system. A TN professional must obtain a new I-94 card if their current one expires, or they change employers.
Can an employer hire a TN professional who was issued a TN for another employer?
Yes, but the TN professional must obtain a new TN visa that states the new employer. The TN visa holder is required to only work for the employer stated on the Form I-94. The TN visa holder will need to change the employer by filing for a change of employer with a Form I-129 with the USCIS or take care of the change at U.S. port of entry.
Professionals from Canada or Mexico seeking to work in the United States can easily pursue entry with a NAFTA TN visa. As long as the visa applicant meets the educational and professional experience requirements of the TN professional visa, they can easily obtain approval to work in their chosen profession with a U.S. employer.