The following are general answers to some common questions about TN visa status and is not legal advice. If you have a question that is not covered below that you need answered please contact me directly at: jr@richardskruger.com

  • What is a TN Visa? A TN Visa, also referred to as TN Status or TN-1, is U.S. work authorization available to both Canadian and Mexican citizens to obtain entry, reside and work temporarily in the United States under specific non-immigrant NAFTA professions. The TN Visa may only be granted to an applicant whose profession is listed in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • What is the TN-1 non-immigrant classification? On January 1, 1994, the United States, Canada and Mexico entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA opened up trade between the United States and Canada through improved economic and trade regulations. NAFTA introduced TN-1 and TN-2 non-immigrant visa classification for Canadian and Mexican citizens.  To qualify as a NAFTA professional you must seek to enter the United States with a valid job offer to work in a professional capacity under one of the listed NAFTA professions.
  • How do I qualify for a TN visa? To qualify as a TN non-immigrant you must have a valid offer of employment to fill a position in a TN NAFTA profession and provide (at a minimum): Proof of your Canadian citizenship, a detailed offer/support letter from your prospective employer, evidence of your education, credentials, qualifying experience and proof of your intent to return to your foreign permanent residence at the end of your temporary employment.
  • How do I apply for a TN visa? Applications for a TN visa classification can be done by mail with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through Form I-129, by person at a U.S. port of entry, or at a U.S. consulate.
  • How long is a TN visa valid for? A TN visa can be valid for one (1) day up to three (3) years. The length of stay is determined by the length of the temporary employment offer or a valid contract with a U.S. entity. Your passport should be valid for length of requested stay in TN status.
  • How do I extend my TN visa? An extension of a TN visa can be obtained in two ways: (1) Through application at a port of entry using the same procedure to obtain a new TN visa, or, (2) Your employer can file Form I-129 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applications for extensions by mail with USCIS can be done up to six (6) months in advance.
  • Can the family of a TN visa holder get a visa? Yes. The spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for TD non-immigrant visa status. To qualify they must show a bona-fide spousal or parent-child relationship by providing the following documentation at the port of entry or U.S. consulate: (1) Proof of Canadian citizenship; (2) Proof of relationship to , such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate; and (3) Proof of your valid TN non-immigrant status. TD status does not grant authorization to work.
  • Do I qualify for a TN visa? You may qualify for a TN visa if you can answer “Yes” to the following questions:
    1. Are you a Canadian Citizen?
    2. Is your profession listed on the TN NAFTA professions list?
    3. Do you possess the minimum qualifications for your TN NAFTA profession?
    4. Have you received an offer of employment from a U.S. employer?

If can answer “Yes” to the above listed questions you may qualify for a TN visa under NAFTA.

  • Do I need a TN visa to look for employment in the U.S.? No. Under NAFTA you are able to enter the United States as a visitor to apply for positions, interview for positions and seek employment in the United States without a visa. Once you obtain employment you will need to obtain proper work authorization prior to working. The quickest and most cost effective work permit available to Canadian citizens is the TN non-immigrant visa.
  • How long does it take to get a TN visa? Initial applications for TN visa status are reviewed at participating U.S. Ports of Entry and if properly presented can be approved within minutes. Petitions for TN status by mail with USCIS can take from 15 days up to a few months depending on the processing method used.
  • When should I apply for my TN visa? You can apply in person for a TN visa at your desired port of entry up to one (1) week prior to the start of your employment in the United States. If filing by mail with USCIS you can apply up to six (6) months in advance.
  • Do I need to hire a lawyer for a TN visa? There is no requirement to use the services of an attorney for a TN application but it is recommended. If any of the following apply to your situation we highly suggest using the assistance of an experienced licensed U.S. immigration lawyer (Foreign lawyers are not legally authorized to practice or advise on U.S. immigration law):
    1. You have previously been refused entry into the United States; or
    2. You have a criminal background; or
    3. You are seeking entry as a Management Consultant, Scientific Technician or will be working in any IT profession; or
    4. Your qualifications are not a clear match to any profession on the TN professions list; or
    5. You will be working for a Canadian employer while servicing pre-existing contracts in the United States.
  • Do I need a job offer before applying for TN visa status? Yes, you must have a valid job offer to apply for a TN visa. One requirement for TN visa application is the supporting evidence that the applicant is engaged in an employee-employer relationship. In the case concerning a TN visa, the offer letter from the potential employer is the supporting evidence. The applicant’s offered position, TN profession, salary, start date, and other details should be included in the letter of support.
  • Can I work for multiple employers in the U.S. while on a TN visa? Yes. You can work for multiple employers in the United States provided that you obtain a separate TN visa  status for every employer. Working for an employer other than the one your TN visa is approved for violates U.S. immigration laws.
  • Can I change my TN visa employer? Yes. You can change your TN visa employer at any time. This can be done at a U.S. port of entry or through a USCIS service center.
  • Can an independent contractor have a TN visa? Yes. You are able to work as an employee or independent contractor. As long as the employer can establish control, you can work as an independent contractor.
  • What do I do when if my TN visa application is denied? It’s not uncommon for a TN visa application to be denied during the applicant’s first attempt. If you’re denied for TN visa status, the best option is to seek the advice of an experienced TN visa attorney before re-applying. Potential for denial is a strong reason to consider the advice of an experience U.S. immigration lawyer before applying for a TN visa.
  • Should I hire a lawyer for a TN visa application? Yes. Whether an initial request for TN visa status, reapplication after a denial,  or renewal, seeking the legal advice of an experienced U.S. immigration attorney is advised. Hiring a lawyer from the beginning of the application makes the process easier and reduces the risk of denial.
  • Is there a limit as to how many times a TN visa is renewed? There’s no limit to the times a TN visa is renewed, but if the TN employee has been on a TN status longer, the scrutiny on the renewal is higher.
  • Can I change from a TN status to a green card? Yes. You can go from TN visa status to a green card if your application for a green card is properly handled. It’s best to seek legal advice from an experienced U.S. immigration attorney before you start with the green card process.
  • What is acceptable proof of education for a TN visa? Original copies of diplomas, certificates or degrees serve as evidence of education. Some other proofs are supporting academic transcripts and foreign credentials evaluation.
  • Can I get a new job on the same TN visa if I’m fired from my job? No. A TN visa is employer specific and can only be used to work for the employer it was issued under. The name of the employer and the authorized employment is listed on Form I-94.
  • What if I forgot to renew my TN  visa status before it expires? Failure to renew your TN visa status before it expires means that you’re out of status. You must stop working immediately, leave the U.S. and request re-entry on a new TN visa before continuing to work. If you continue working and don’t leave the U.S. when you’re out of status, both you and your employer can face serious consequences.
  • Does my TN visa expire if I lose my job? Yes. TN visa status immediately expires if you lose your job since it is contingent on employment.
  • Can I apply for a TN visa if I just finished school but have not received my actual degree? You may still apply for TN visa status if you have finished school and graduated from your course of study by showing proof that you finished your studies through transcripts and a letter from your school indicating completion of your studies.
  • What if my job title does not exactly match with the job title listed under NAFTA? The job title is not the only factor that determines approval of TN visa status. Although the NAFTA officer takes the job title into consideration, there are other factors such as the applicant’s academic background, duties and past employment experiences that the officer considers.
  • Do I have to bring original copies of my documents during my TN interview? Yes. You have to be prepared to present all supporting evidence for your application for TN status, thus you need to bring the original copies whenever possible.
  • Can I renew my TN status with my original offer letter? No. You must obtain a new offer letter from your employer. If a TN visa was issued to you before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be issued again. Whether you’re applying for TN status for the first time or for renewal, you must show that you qualify for the TN profession under NAFTA. If you fail to present properly prepared application, the probability that your request for TN status be denied is high.
  • What happens when I get married with an American while on a TN status? Entering into marriage with an American while you’re on a TN status requires proper procedures in preparation for a future green card application. An experienced U.S. immigration attorney can help you properly change from being a non-immigrant TN status holder to U.S. permanent resident through marriage.
  • What is a U.S. port of entry? A U.S. port of entry is an inspection point where individuals of foreign nationality can seek lawful entry into the United States. It is where applicants process their TN visa applications.
  • What is the TN visa interview process? The TN visa interview process may differ depending on the applicant and the interviewing officer. The questioning process varies from brief to very intense. It is the officer’s duty to ensure lawful entry of the foreign nationals into the United States. The interview can be smooth for an applicant qualified for TN status with properly presented application. This is one of the many advantages to using the assistance of a U.S. immigration lawyer.
  • Am I qualified for TN visa status if my degree is not earned from Canada or the U.S.? A TN visa applicant whose degree is issued from outside of North America must obtain foreign credentials evaluation. To qualify for TN visa status, you need to prove that you have earned the TN profession’s required degree from the U.S., Canada or Mexico, or the equivalent.