If you’re a Canadian or Mexican citizen looking to work in the U.S., it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding TN visas.
Canada and Mexico have free trade agreements with the U.S., so if you’re from one of those countries, you may be eligible for an easy-to-obtain visa that allows you to enter the country as long as your employer meets specific requirements and files paperwork on your behalf.
Continue reading this guide to understand what is TN visa, the relevant regulations behind the program, when it expires, and how an immigration lawyer can help.
What Is a TN Visa?
A TN visa is a special non-immigrant visa that allows Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States.
The TN visa category was developed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It allows Canadian and Mexican nationals to work in the United States for up to three years. The TN visa is sometimes called a NAFTA professional visa or NAFTA trader visa.
TN visas are issued based on an employer’s need for foreign workers with specialized knowledge. The TN visa allows workers to enter the United States to perform certain jobs related to their professions.
However, this doesn’t mean that every Canadian or Mexican citizen has an easy path to obtaining one of these visas. In fact, it’s much more complicated than it may seem at first glance. To understand why this is so, let’s take a look at how TN visas are issued and what they entail:
When Does A TN Visa Expire
Like all non-immigrant visas, a TN visa has an expiration date. You will need to leave the country and apply for a new visa if your TN expires in less than three years.
However, if you have been living and working in the United States under a TN status for more than two years without leaving the country, then you may be eligible to apply for another type of U.S. visa based on your length of employment or other ties to the United States.
You can also renew your TN status by filing Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with an approved petition from USCIS before it expires.
You can reside in the United States for three years. You can apply for an extension, but it is up to the discretion of the USCIS. If you have been out of the United States for more than 30 days during your initial admission period, you will need to obtain an L-1 visa instead and cannot use a TN application. If your employer does not file an extension request on time, this will automatically terminate your employment authorization document (EAD).
TN Visa Rules
If you’re applying from outside the U.S., you’ll have to prove that you have an offer of employment from an employer in the United States willing to sponsor your TN visa application and accept you as an employee once it has been approved.
It’s important to note that if your current employer has filed for bankruptcy, they are no longer eligible as a sponsor (though some exceptions apply). This means that any employees holding TN visas may also lose their status.
You can work for up to one employer at a time while on a TN visa. However, spouses and children of people holding these types of visas are allowed to work on their own separate permits provided they meet certain criteria set by USCIS for both individuals working under this category and dependents accompanying them.
Canadian Citizens Can Apply For A Tn Visa At The Border, But Mexicans Cannot
As a Canadian citizen, you can apply for a TN visa at the U.S. border. This is because Canadians are typically allowed into the U.S without a visa.
However, Mexican citizens must apply for TN visas at a U.S. consulate in Mexico (or another country). They will have to have the appropriate paperwork and fees with them when they arrive at the border.
An Immigration Lawyer Can Help
You could be eligible for a TN visa if you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico and are going to the United States temporarily to participate in an event or activity requiring a NAFTA professional to be present.
The TN Visa Program is intended for citizens of Canada and Mexico who have been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as professionals or skilled workers. The program is designed so these individuals may enter the United States for temporary work on an expedited basis.
An immigration lawyer can help you apply for a TN visa, get your TN visa approved and renewed, and resolve any other immigration issues.