What is the TN Visa?
TN Visas are a nonimmigrant visa intended for NAFTA Professionals. The North American Free Trade Agreement that was introduced in 1992 to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the US, Canada, and Mexico.
To be able to come to the US, however, Canadian and Mexican citizens have to have a prearranged job in the country. The goal of their visit has to be for business activities and self-employed individuals are not eligible for the TN Visa.
The general requirements that TN visa applicants have to meet are:
- Being a citizen of either Canada or Mexico
- Having qualifications in one of the accepted NAFTA professions
- Being able to provide evidence that the job they want to do in the US requires a NAFTA professional
- Having secured a part-time or full-time job in the US before arriving in the country
- Having adequate educational qualifications.
All applicants for the TN Visa, regardless of whether they are citizens of Canada or Mexico, have to meet these requirements. Nevertheless, there are also additional criteria that vary depending on whether the applicant is coming from Canada or Mexico
Who can apply for the TN Visa?
Citizens of Canada or Mexico can apply for the TN Visa provided that they are coming to the US to engage in one of the NAFTA accepted professions. These include but are not limited to:
- Graphic Designers
- Management Consultants
To prove their qualifications in these professions, applicants have to hold at least a baccalaureate degree. Individuals who are permanent residents in Canada or Mexico are unfortunately not eligible for the TN Visa.
How can Canadian citizens apply for the TN Visa?
If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not have to apply for the TN Visa before you arrive in the US. You can present the documentation proving your eligibility for it when you arrive at the border and seek admission to the US.
To be able to enter the US on the TN Visa, you have to present the following documents:
- Proof of holding Canadian citizenship
- Letter from your employer in the US which outlines the details of your job in the US
- Credentials evaluation (if applicable).
If an immigration officer working at the point of entry determines that you meet the eligibility criteria for the visa, you will be admitted to the US with TN nonimmigrant status.
Canadian citizens can also apply for the TN Visa before they arrive in the US. If you want to use this track, your prospective TN employer has to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers, and submit it to USCIS. Once this form is approved, you can proceed to applying for admission to the US.
How can Mexican citizens apply for the TN Visa?
If you are a citizen of Mexico, you need to apply for the TN Visa at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico. To be allowed to enter the US, you need to hold a valid TN Visa at the time of admission. If you want to apply for the TN Visa as a Mexican citizen, you need to:
- File Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. While completing the form you will have to upload a photo. Once you submit the form, make sure to keep the confirmation page because you will have to take it with you to your visa interview at a later stage of the application process.
- Schedule your visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico. All applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 are required to attend a visa interview. Waiting times for the interview vary but you should apply for your TN Visa early.
- Pay the TN Visa fee of $160. You are required to pay the fee before you come to the interview.
- Prepare a portfolio of evidence. You have to bring a number of supporting documents to your visa interview. It is advisable to seek the help of an immigration lawyer when gathering them to make sure you include all the evidence that USCIS might need.
- Attend your visa interview. The goal of the interview is to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the TN Visa. If your TN Visa application requires further administrative processing, you will be informed about it during the interview.
What supporting documents do Mexican citizens need to prepare?
Mexican citizens wanting to apply for the TN Visa need to prepare and include the following documents in their visa application:
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the US
- Confirmation page from Form DS-160
- Receipt proving that the applicant has paid the visa application fee
- Passport size photograph (if photo upload fails when completing Form DS-160)
- Letter from US employer proving that the applicant has a job offer
- Proof of meeting the minimum education or work experience requirements (in most cases a baccalaureate degree is required).
If you are not sure what documents to gather, contact our immigration lawyers. They will help you avoid delays to your application that can be caused by the failure to include some of the necessary evidence.
How long is the TN Visa valid for?
Under the US immigration law, you can be admitted to the US as a TN worker for a initial period of up to three years. Nevertheless, during the application process US immigration officials might decide to admit you for a shorter period of time if they determine that your job will not last this long. That means that the duration of the TN Visa varies depending on how long the applicant’s position in the US is going to last.
If your TN Visa is about to expire and you need to stay in the US longer, you can extend it. You can do it by filing the I-129 Extension Petition. If USCIS determines that you still meet the eligibility criteria for the TN Visa and your work requires you to stay in the country for longer, your stay will be extended. The duration of the extension varies depending on how much time you need to complete your work activity in the US.
Alternatively, you can leave the US and reapply for the TN status. Then you will have to go through the same procedure as when you were applying for the visa for the first time. Keep in mind that this solution can be lengthy, especially for Mexican citizens.
What is the waiting time for the TN Visa?
The TN Visa processing time can vary depending on whether you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen. Since Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa before hand and have to just prove their eligibility for the TN status at a port of entry, the waiting time takes just a few hours. Mexican citizens, on the other hand, often have to wait several months for their TN Visa application to be processed. Most applicants have to wait around six months.
Nevertheless, if you need to know the decision sooner, you can opt for Premium Processing. Then, your application will be processed within just 15 business days. Premium Processing of the TN Visa costs $2,500. Keep in mind that using this option does not increase the chances of your application being approved.
Can I bring dependents with me on the TN Visa?
If your application for the TN Visa is successful, your dependents, so your spouse and unmarried children younger than 21, can come to the US with you. To be able to join you, they have to apply for a TD Visa for immediate relatives. This nonimmigrant visa allows the family of TN Visa holders to also come to the US. If your dependents apply for it, they will be able to stay in the US for as long as your TN status is valid.
Dependents of Canadian citizens can apply for TD-1 visas and dependents of Mexican citizens can apply for TD-2 visas. To be eligible for them, the applicants have to prove their relationship with the TN visa holder by submitting a marriage or birth certificate.
How can IAS' lawyers help?
Applying for US visas, including the TN Visa, can be a stressful process. The best way to make sure that you know how to submit the application and what documents to prepare, is to hire an immigration lawyer.
Here at IAS, our lawyers have expert knowledge of US immigration law and have helped many clients successfully apply for US visas. If you want to apply for the TN Visa, we can assess your eligibility for it and help you apply. We will guide you through the whole process, making sure that you completed all the forms correctly and included all the required documentation.
By letting one of our highly qualified lawyers handle your case, you can focus on other aspects of planning your trip to the US.
Here at the Immigration Advice Service we are happy to take on your case no matter how complex or simple. To find out more about how our lawyers can help with your application and visa status, call us today on +1 844 290 6312 or email us using the contact form above.
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If your application for the TN Visa is successful, you will be able to leave and re-enter the US as many times as you wish as long as your visa is valid. Nevertheless, the TN Visa is a nonimmigrant visa which means that you can only remain in the US for a limited period of time. Once your TN status expires, you have to leave the country.
If you are offered a new position which has to be at minimum a part-time job with a different US employer while on the TN Visa, you can pursue this opportunity as long as the new job meets the requirements for the TN status. To be able to engage in the new job, however, your new employer has to file the I-129 Extension Petition on your behalf.
TN Visas are inexpensive compared to most US visas. If you are a Canadian citizen hoping to apply for the TN status at the border, you will have to pay the applicable fees starting with $56. That covers the filing fee of $50 and the I-94 fee of $6. You can settle this feeat the time of applying for the TN Visa. If, however, you are a Mexican citizen applying for the TN Visa before admission to the US, you will have to pay $555
When you are in the US on the TN Visa, you can only stay for a limited period of time. The TN Visa is a nonimmigrant visa, which means it does not automatically lead to a Green Card. Moreover, it is not a dual intent visa. To receive the TN Visa, you have to prove your intention to leave the US once the visa expires. That said, you cannot directly transition to a Green Card from the TN Visa. If you would like to stay in the US permanently, you can switch to a dual intent visa, such as H1B Visa or L-1 Visa, and then apply for permanent resident status. Alternatively, if you get married to a US citizen, you could be eligible for a Green Card via the marriage route.
To discuss your options to immigrate to the US permanently, talk to our immigration lawyers. They will assess your situation and your eligibility for various US Green Cards and will advise you on what the best way to do it is.