What is a TN Visa?

Dec 29, 2022 | Immigration

The TN Visa was originally created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which established special trade relationships between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. TN visa status allows Canadian or Mexican professionals to live and work in the U.S. 

The TN Visa is limited to the professions under NAFTA Chapter 16 Appendix 2. The NAFTA professions list is specific to the qualifying profession and required qualifications. Professions not listed do not qualify for TN visa status.

What are the requirements for a TN Visa?

  • The applicant is a Canadian or Mexican citizen.
  • The prospective job offer is a profession on the NAFTA list (See Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA Chapter for a complete list of professions and minimum requirements under NAFTA).
  • The applicant will work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for a U.S. employer (self-employment is not allowed).
  • The applicant has the required NAFTA qualifications, meeting the specific education and/or experience requirements of the profession. 
  • With some exceptions, each profession requires the applicant to possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. In some professions, an alternative to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is related to experience or special licensing.

What are length of stay requirements for a TN Visa?

TN visa status allows Canadian or Mexican citizens to live and work in the U.S. for up to three years at a time. TN status can be renewed for an additional three-year period. There is no maximum number of years for TN visa status. 

If your TN status expires or you lose your job, you have a 60-day grace period. During that time, you cannot work. However, you can do the following: 

  • File for an Extension of the current TN Visa
  • Find a new job and file for another TN Visa
  • Change status to one that allows you to extend your stay
  • Wrap up your affairs and return to your home country

What is the application process for a TN visa?

The application process for TN visa varies for a Canadian citizen versus a Mexican citizen. If you are a Canadian citizen, you have two different options to apply for a TN visa. You can apply for a TN visa at a United States Customs and Border Protection port of entry when entering the country. Or, you can have your employer submit your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval, you can enter the United States legally. 

However, Mexican professionals must submit a non-immigrant visa application and make an appointment at a United States embassy or consulate abroad for a visa interview. Once they receive a visa, they can head to a port of entry to enter the United States. 

The average processing time for TN visas varies depending on the application method. For example, some applicant may obtain their TN visa the same day they apply while others may have to wait weeks or months to obtain TN Visa status. 

What is a TD Visa?

Canadian and Mexican citizens with families who obtain a TN visa may bring their spouse and any unmarried children (under age 21) into the United States under the TD visa. A TD Visa will allow the TN Visa holder’s immediate family to live in the United States, but they may not work. To work, they must apply for a different employment visa.

How easy is it to obtain a TN Visa?

When compared to the process of obtaining other work visas, it seems simple to obtain a TN Visa. But exactly how simple or difficult it is to get this visa depends on your qualifications, your preparation, and your situation. If you are not properly prepared and do not have the necessary supporting documents, it can be difficult to get approved and may even lead to unintended consequences. For example, Consular and CBP officers have wide discretion regarding what evidence is acceptable and often challenge an applicant’s education and qualifications for the TN Visa. They often deny TN visas for documentation issues. They may review the job offer letter and find that it is inadequate to prove that the position qualifies under a TN Visa profession.

The best way to ensure the TN Visa application process is as simple and straightforward as possible is to seek the advice of a qualified Immigration Attorney. An experienced immigration attorney will make you are aware of any potential issues with your case and avoid unnecessary denials. 

Contact us, we can help!

If you have questions about whether your situation qualifies, contact us to help with your TN Visa application. We have years of experience helping people live and work in the US under TN Visa Status. Additionally, TN visas are just one type of U.S. work visa available to employers. If you are unsure whether the TN visa is the most suitable for your needs, the team at Siri & Glimstad can walk you through all available options.

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