• What is TN-1 Visa work status? The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. TN non-immigrant visa status permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to work under certain NAFTA professions. TN-1 visa status is granted to Canadian citizens (NOT Canadian permanent residents) authorizing them to work within the United States on a temporary basis under specific NAFTA professions.
  • What are the benefits of TN visa status? TN visa status is a great option for U.S. work authorization for both the employer and employee. The following are some of the benefits of TN visa status:
    1. Affordable – Employers are not required to pay for the cost of obtaining TN visa status and the processing fee for TN status if done at the border is only $56. By mail with USCIS the filing fee is still only $325. For qualifying employees, this is a much more affordable option than the alternative H-1B or L-1 visas. We handle the TN visa process for our clients at an affordable flat fee.
    2. Fast to Obtain – With a properly prepared TN visa application work status can be obtained immediately at a port of entry or within 15 days when filing with premium processing by mail with USCIS. TN visa status is perfect if you need someone to begin work immediately.
    3. Length of Stay – TN visa status can be obtained for as short as one (1) day and up to three (3) years at a time.
    4. Unlimited Renewals – Unlike H-1B and L-1 visas, there is no limit to the amount of time someone can work in TN visa status. As long as the need for the employee continues, TN visa status can be renewed indefinitely every three (3) years.
    5. No Prevailing Wage Requirement – There is no wage requirement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for those who are in TN visa status. The wage paid simply needs to be consistent with those in the profession. There are no formal wage regulations for TN professionals and wages are verified with DOL.
    6. No Recruitment Necessary – In order to hire an employee in TN visa status, you simply need to show that your employee will be working in a qualifying TN NAFTA profession, will be performing duties consistent with the NAFTA profession, and that the employee qualifies for the NAFTA profession. There is no U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) requirement to advertise for the position or to hire a U.S. worker.
  • How long will it take for my employee to get TN status? One of the main advantages of TN visa status is that it can be obtained very quickly. As long as the proper paperwork has been prepared, and the employee qualifies for TN visa status, they can apply for and obtain TN visa status all in the same day. With a properly prepared TN visa application your employee can have their TN visa status and enter the United States authorized to work after a brief interview with a NAFTA officer. TN status is a great option for employers needing to fill immediate employment needs. In more complex situations it is advised to process by mail with USCIS where processing can take anywhere from 15-60 days.
  • What is the employer’s role in the TN visa application process? The employer’s role in the TN visa application process is very limited when done at the border. The employee submits the TN visa application in person at the desired U.S. port of entry. The employer provides a support/offer letter detailing their need for the employee, the TN NAFTA profession the employee will be working in, a detailed list of duties to be performed, and the time period during which the employee’s services will be needed. There are no wage requirements, recruitment requirements, lengthy processing times or hefty filing fees. Filing by mail with USCIS carries added fees and additional employer filing responsibilities. A TN visa petition by an employer with USCIS is filed using Form I-129.
  • Do I need to include a start and end date in the support/offer letter? YES. Although an employee can work under TN visa status indefinitely, TN visa status can only be given for as much as three (3) years at a time. The support/offer letter must include a start and end date to meet NAFTA requirements. Failure to include an end date can be an indication of permanent employment, which is not allowed under NAFTA. In most cases the TN visa will be issued for the time period requested in the support/offer letter.
  • Is there a recruitment process before I can hire a worker in TN visa status? NO. An employer can hire any qualifying employee under NAFTA to work for them in TN visa status, there is no  recruitment requirement, and no requirement to hire qualified US workers.
  • Is there a minimum wage or prevailing wage requirement for TN status? NO. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is not involved in the TN visa process. Wages are not verified by DOL and do not need to be certified prior to hiring an employee under NAFTA in TN visa status. Although there is no wage requirement, the NAFTA or USCIS officer reviewing the application for TN visa status will verify that the wage is consistent with the industry for the profession. Wages generally do not raise issues unless they are significantly out of line with what is ordinary for the profession.
  • Is there a reporting requirement if I hire an employee in TN visa status? NO. Under NAFTA employers are not required to report to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
  • How do we verify that our employee has obtained TN visa status and is authorized to work in the United States? Upon admission in TN visa status the employee will be issued CBP Form I-94 (I-94 card). The I-94 card will indicate the work status (TN), date of entry, and expiration date. The I-94 card is usually stapled to the inside of the employee’s passport and is valid for the time period indicated. In some cases the I-94 is issued electronically and can be obtained through CBP’s online I-94 retrieval system. A new TN visa must be obtained prior to the expiration of the I-94 card or with a change in employers. If the TN visa is obtained by mail with USCIS an I-797 notice of approval will  be issued as proof of valid TN visa status.
  • Can we hire an employee that was issued a TN visa to work for another company? YES. Prior to having the employee begin working for your company, a new TN visa must be obtained. TN visa status is employer specific. This means that the TN visa holder can only work for the employer indicated on Form I-94 or Form I-797, and no other employers. However, the employee can change from one employer to another by either filing for a change of employer with USCIS on Form I-129 or by returning to a U.S. port of entry to apply for a change of employer.
  • Does the employer support/offer letter constitute a contract? NO. TN support/offer letters are not contracts. Employment in TN visa status is at will and according to NAFTA cannot be permanent. The employment offer must be temporary in nature and the offer/support letter must indicate the temporary nature of the employment with an anticipated start and end date. Although, TN visa status is not permanent, it can be renewed indefinitely if the employer’s need for the employee continues.

We represent both employers and employees in the TN visa application process. If you are a U.S. or Canadian employer, and have questions about employing a Canadian under TN visa status, we can help. Contact us directly so that we can address any employment related questions and assist you with the employment process under NAFTA.