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TN Professionals

Are you a Canadian or Mexican Citizen?

Are you considered a qualified professional?

Do you wish to work in the U.S. temporarily?

If you answered “Yes” to the three questions above, the TN visa may be for you!, The TN visa category is a special category created under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) for qualifying professionals who are nationals of Canada or Mexico, intending to work temporarily in the U.S.

To qualify for a TN visa and be able to work for a U.S.-based employer, a Canadian or Mexican national must possess the necessary credentials to be considered a “qualified professional” under this category. Generally, a bachelor’s degree or higher is usually required. Some examples of individuals who are generally considered as qualified professionals are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists and teachers. The full list of occupations that are regarded as qualified professionals is included at the end of this chapter.

Since the nature of the TN visa is temporary, the visa holder must intend to depart the U.S. upon completion of his or her authorized stay. If the TN visa holder attempts to apply for permanent residency while in TN status in the United States, the individual can be denied a renewal of his TN visa in future.

Types of TN Visas

There are two different types of TN visas:

TN-1 visa: For Canadian professionals.

TN-2 visa: For Mexican professionals.

Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of TN visa holders may apply for a TD visa, in order to accompany their spouse or parent to the United States (TD-1 for the family members of a Canadian citizen worker, or TD-2 for those of a Mexican citizen worker).

Requirements for TN Visa Status

There are different requirements for TN-1 and TN-2 visa applicants.

TN-1 Visa (Canadian Professional):

  • The applicant must be a Canadian citizen;
  • The applicant must intend to engage in employment in an approved profession and have an offer of employment;
  • The applicant must possess the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in the approved profession under which the applicant is intending to apply. A bachelor’s degree or higher is usually required for all approved professions on the list. If the profession requires licensing, then the applicant must possess the requisite license;
  • The applicant must intend to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period. An applicant can be denied TN status because he or she has another pending petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS);
  • The applicant need not apply in advance for the TN-1 visa and may do so at the U.S. port of entry.

TN-2 Visa (Mexican Professional):

  • The applicant must be a Mexican citizen
  • The applicant must intend to engage in employment in an approved profession and have an offer of employment;
  • The applicant must possess the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in the approved profession the applicant is applying under. A bachelor’s degree or higher is usually required for all approved professions on the list. If the profession requires licensing, then the applicant must possess the requisite license;
  • The applicant must intend to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period;
  • Prior United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) approval is required before entering the U.S.;
  • A non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. Consulate is required prior to entry.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on a TN visa?

You can stay in the U.S. for three (3) years on a TN visa. After the three-year period, you can apply for an extension.

As a TN-1 or TN-2 visa holder, can my family accompany me to the U.S.?

Yes. Your spouse and unmarried children (under 21) can accompany you as your dependents by applying for TD visas. TD visas may be obtained at the nearest U.S. Consulate or at a designated port of entry into the U.S. If your dependents marry or turn 21, they will no longer be eligible for dependent status in the TN visa categories. Your dependents must then apply to change to another status or leave the U.S.

Can I work or attend school while in the U.S.?

TD visa holders cannot work in the U.S., but are allowed to attend school without changing to another nonimmigrant status.

Conclusion

If you are a qualified professional and a citizen of either Canada or Mexico, and wish to work temporarily in the United States, you may be eligible for a TN visa. Mexican nationals must apply for a TN-2 visa prior to admission in the U.S., but Canadian nationals may apply for a TN-1 visa at the port of entry into the U.S. On a TN visa, your family may accompany you to the U.S. They will be unable to work, but may attend school without changing to another nonimmigrant status.

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