TN Visa - Green Card
Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker
TN visa (Trade NAFTA) is a special non-immigration status unique to citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico. TN status was created by virtue of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It allows American, Canadian and Mexican citizens the opportunity to work in each other's countries in certain professional occupations.
Canadians’ TN status is sometimes informally referred to as a TN visa. However, because a Canadian does not formally need to request a visa at a US consulate, it is technically not a visa, but rather a status.
TN are now initially admitted for a period 3 years.
Renewal of TN visa and TN status is possible, in theory, indefinitely, but the TN visa / TN status is not a substitute for permanent residency (a green card), and the border official has the discretion to refuse further renewals if she feels the ability for indefinite renewal is being abused. Furthermore, because Canadians’ TN status is adjudicated at the border, it can also be revoked at any time at the border (if a Canadian is re-entering the US), even if it is not up for renewal.
Spouse and dependent children of a TN professional can be admitted into the United States in the TD status.
TN visa and TN status does not include the doctrine of dual intent. Therefore, Canadians or Mexicans on TN status must be careful if they desire to ultimately pursue the green card. Either they should first switch to the H-1B visa before applying for the green card, or they must carefully time things to ensure they do not attempt to renew TN status after the green card application is formally pending.
Canadian professionals are admitted into the USA in the TN-1 status. Interested applicants must meet the following requirements:
TN status / TN visa Requirements
Canadian citizens applying for the TN-1 Visa must provide the following information at a U.S. port of entry:
An official request for TN status.
Copies of all relevant college degrees and employment records. This data should prove the applicant is sufficiently qualified for the proposed position.
An offer of employment letter from the sponsoring employer detailing employment for not more than three years.
Renewing or Extending TN status / TN visa
Once TN status is granted, it is good for three years but only for the specific employer for which it was originally requested.
If employment with a single employer is desired for more than three years, it may be renewed indefinitely. Renewal is accomplished either by a mail-in renewal within the United States, or by returning to the border and, in effect, presenting a new application.
Changing employers will require the Canadian to return to the border and start from scratch with a new application.
The procedures for Mexican citizens applying for TN status are a bit more complex than for Canadians. A Mexican citizen must first obtain a US TN-2 visa at a US consulate (generally in Mexico) or at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Once the visa stamp is obtained in the Mexican citizen's passport, they may enter the US in TN status and are admitted into the US in the TN-2 status.
TN status / TN visa Requirements
Mexican citizens are eligible to apply for the TN-2 Visa. Interested applicants must meet the following requirements:
The sponsoring employer must file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor (DOL) and also file a petition for nonimmigrant workers on Form I-129 with the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).
After approval of the petition, the foreign national must apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.
A TN visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be eligible for a TD visa.
Please check the list of NAFTA Treaty professions and their corresponding job requirements to confirm that your profession is included.
The length of an issued TN visa will be limited to the terms of the employment contract. Applicants must demonstrate that their stay is temporary and has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.
Evidence of qualifications
TN jobs are professional positions with certain qualifications. Most jobs require a baccalaureate degree from a certified undergraduate institution.
Mexican citizens must hold a titulo to fulfill the baccalaureate degree requirement; a carta de pasante is not sufficient for NAFTA professions that require a baccalaureate degree.
A carta de pasante is sufficient for professions that require only a post-secondary diploma or certificate. Some NAFTA professions require a specified amount of work experience. In every case, the TN applicant must prove to the adjudicating consular officer that he or she has the required educational and/or work experience to qualify for the TN visa.
Renewal/extension of TN status
Can be done either by mail (which requires filing of form I-129 "Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker" by the employer, along with proof of the TN holder's citizenship and education, and an extension letter similar to the original offer letter) or
by duplication of the original process (for Mexican citizens, a trip to a US consulate; for Canadians leaving and re-entering US, document requirements are similar to those for obtaining the original TN).
In the event of a job termination, the individual must leave the United States within 10 days from the last day of employment or the last day TN status expires (whichever is less).
During this period, the TN holder cannot legally remain in the USA to look for a new job.
If the TN holder's intention is to try to secure new employment before departure, he or she must immediately change to a B2 (Visitor) visa before searching for a new position.
Please note that the Attorney Roger Bernstein PA's web site is only an online resource and should not be taken as legal advice. If you think that you are eligible for a TN visa or TN status, please contact us for a consultation. Our experienced lawyers will help you determine the best approach for your case.