TN Visas for NAFTA Professionals
Thanks to special economic and trade relationships between the United States, Canada and Mexico, some people qualify for special visas to come to the U.S. to work. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, certain professionals can seek temporary entry into the United States, where they'll engage in business activities. If you have questions about TN visas, please feel free to call our Austin immigration attorneys. Our team can give you the answers you need.
What is a TN Visa?
A TN visa is only available to NAFTA professionals. These visas are nonimmigrant visas, which means people cannot use them to obtain green cards or eventually become United States citizens. TN visas are often available to people working as attorneys, teachers, scientists, engineers, pharmacists, accountants and a small number of people in other professions. You must already have a job offer in the United States to take advantage of a TN visa - you can't simply come in and look for work.
TN Visa Qualifications
In order to qualify for a TN visa:
- You must be a Canadian or Mexican citizen
- Your profession must qualify under current regulations
- the job you intend to take upon arrival in the United States requires a NAFTA professional to fill it
- You must have been offered a full-time or part-time job by a United States employer
- You must not be coming to the United States to be self-employed
- You must have all the necessary qualifications to practice your profession, such as college or university degrees, licenses, and other credentials
The process you use to come to the United States on a TN visa depends on whether you are coming from Mexico or Canada.
TN Visas for Mexican Citizens
If you are a Mexican citizen, you must obtain a TN visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate located in Mexico. After you receive visa approval, you can apply for admission in the United States at a port of entry, border crossing, or a designated pre-clearance or pre-flight inspection station. If the Customs and Border Protection officer you're dealing with finds that you are eligible for admission, they will let you in the United States under TN nonimmigrant status.
Can Your Family Come to the U.S. With You if You Get a TN Visa Through Mexico?
Your family may be eligible to come with you to the United States if they are all Mexican citizens. However, every family member must meet certain criteria to be considered admissible to the country. Your family members will also have to prove that you are maintaining your nonimmigrant status when they apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.
If your family members are not all Mexican citizens, you should consult with an attorney to find out what types of visas will be appropriate for them to accompany you to the United States. Your attorney can help you determine which visas are necessary, as well as help you fill out and file the paperwork for them.
TN Visas for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens are not required to apply for TN visas at U.S. consulates. Instead, Canadians may establish eligibility for this classification when they seek admission to the United States.
As a Canadian, you may simply present the required documentation to a Customs and Border Protection officer at certain ports of entry, or at designated pre-clearance or pre-flight inspection stations. If this is the route you choose to take, you will need to provide the following documentation before entering the United States:
- Proof that you are a Canadian citizen
- A letter from your prospective employer that explains your job in the United States, the purpose of your employment, how long you intend to stay, and your qualifications to perform the job
- A credentials evaluation, if applicable
You don't have to present this documentation at a border crossing if your employer has chosen to file a Form I-129 on your behalf. If your Form I-129 has been approved, you only need proof of your Canadian citizenship and your approval notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for your Form I-129.
Is Your Family Allowed to Accompany You to the United States if You’re a Canadian NAFTA Professional?
If your family members are all Canadian citizens, no visa is required for them to accompany you to the United States. They will, however, need to furnish proof of Canadian citizenship and their relationship to you, as well as photocopies of your admission documents and proof that you are maintaining your nonimmigrant status.
If your family members are not all Canadian citizens, it may be in your best interest to discuss your options with an attorney. Your family members will most likely need specific visas, and an attorney can tell you what they are and how to obtain them.
Related: Business Immigration in Texas
How Long Can You Remain in the United States on a TN Visa?
The initial period of stay on AT end visa is three years. It's important that you know your family members can only stay in the United States as long as you are in TN status.
It is possible to extend your stay in the United States beyond three years. You have two options to do so. First, you can ask the U.S. government to extend your stay on your visa documents. Your second option is to leave the United States and re-enter using the same process you used for your initial entry.
How Long Does it Take to Get a TN Visa?
If you need a TN visa, it may take around six months for processing. However, premium processing is available for these visas; that means if you pay extra money with your application, the United States government will process it within 15 calendar days. Premium processing is expensive, though, so depending on your circumstances, it may be better to wait. Also, remember that if you are a Canadian citizen, you do not need preapproval to come to the United States. You can simply present your documentation to a CBP officer at a port of entry.
How Much Does a TN Visa Cost?
Visa costs can, and often do, change. The best way to find out how much your TN visa will cost is to visit the USCIS fees page or ask your immigration attorney. The cost of a TN visa also depends on whether you have to apply for it from Mexico or simply present your documentation to a CBP officer (available to Canadians only) at a border crossing.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Getting a TN Visa?
If you’re a NAFTA professional who wants to get a TN visa, we may be able to help you. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney who understands U.S. immigration law and how it works – as well as how you can get a TN visa to come to the United States to work.
If you’re an employer who wants to apply for a TN visa to hire a worker from Canada or Mexico, we can help you, too. Our mission is to ensure that all our clients have clear-cut, actionable guidance when it comes to U.S. immigration matters.