The TN nonimmigrant visa allows professionals from Canada and Mexico to work in the United States for an initial period of up to three years. Spouses and children of TN professionals may receive TD designation and are allowed to stay in the United States as long as their TN relative.
What is a “professional”?
The term “professional” includes people who work in a wide variety of occupations. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) notes that the following occupations may qualify: accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. Of course, these are only examples of “professional” occupations; others may qualify as well. A more detailed list of covered occupations may be found here.
Am I eligible for TN status?
You may be eligible for TN status as long as you can meet these basic threshold requirements: (1) you are able to prove your citizenship of either Canada or Mexico; (2) you hold a “professional” occupation; (3) your employment in the United States requires a NAFTA professional; (4) you have been offered either full- or part-time work in the United States; and (5) you can prove that you are qualified to practice in the “professional” occupation (i.e., if you are a lawyer, you must hold a bar license).
Can I be self-employed on TN status?
No. Self-employment is not allowed in the TN nonimmigrant status.
Information for Canadian citizens
Canadian citizens are generally admissible to the United States without the need for a visa. There is no need for a Canadian citizen to apply for a TN visa at an overseas U.S. consulate. Instead, Canadian citizens may present evidence of TN eligibility at certain U.S. ports of entry (those that are specifically designated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”)). This evidence includes: (1) proof of Canadian citizenship; (2) letter from prospective employer detailing the terms of your employment; and (3) an evaluation of your credentials (if applicable).
Alternatively, Canadian citizens who are outside the United States may apply for TN status through USCIS before seeking admission to the United States. This option became available on October 1, 2012 (see more here).
A prospective employer may also file on behalf of the Canadian citizen using Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. If the employer so chooses, this application may be expedited using USCIS’s Premium Processing Service. Upon the approval of Form I-129, the Canadian citizen may present to the CBP officer at the port of entry: (1) the approval notice; (2) proof of Canadian citizenship (such as a Canadian passport); and (3) a copy of the Form I-129 and all the supporting documents that went along with the application (including a detailed letter from the employer).
Information for Mexican citizens
Mexican citizens must obtain a visa to enter the United States on TN status. This visa must be obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. A USCIS-approved petition is not required. The documentary requirements are the same as for Canadian citizens (see above).
How long am I eligible to stay in the United States?
Your TN status may be good for an initial period of up to three years. The employment letter should indicate how long your employment is guaranteed (up to three years). If your employer wants you to continue working after three years, your employer will need to file a new Form I-129 on your behalf, or, in the case of Canadian citizens, you may return to the port of entry at the border and present a new TN application, which would, if granted, enable you to work in the U.S. for another three years.
How can Genesis Law Firm help me obtain TN status?
Genesis Law Firm assists Canadian and Mexican citizens, as well as U.S. employers seeking to hire Canadian and/or Mexican citizens. We guide you through the process of preparing a successful TN application, and provide up-to-date information on the latest developments regarding the TN nonimmigrant status.
Where can I learn more about the TN nonimmigrant status?
Please visit the websites of: (1) Department of State; (2) USCIS; and (3) CBP to learn more.