In 1994, the US, Canada and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) to foster trade between the 3 neighboring countries. As part of this agreement, citizens from both Canada and Mexico can enter the US on a TN visa to work on a temporary basis.
Canadian citizens can get their TN visa issued at the border while entering the US. Mexicans must first visit the US consulate to obtain a TN.
TNs for Canadians and Mexicans have different processes.
Canadians can show their information at the US/Canada border and get the TN visa issued. They only need to show a qualified job offer from an employer, educational qualifications and proof of Canadian citizenship. The employer also has the option of filing for the TN visa with the USCIS first. In that case, the TN employee goes to the border with the USCIS approval notice to get the visa issued.
Mexicans have to first go to a US consulate in Mexico to get the TN visa before they can enter the US. They must have a job offer and a Labor Condition Application from a US employer.
If the foreign worker is in the US, the employer can file to extend or change their status to a TN visa.
TN visas are created by treaties to foster trade between the 3 North American countries. This means that the visa is not designed for the worker to move permanently to the US. Filing for a green card when you are in the US on a TN is almost impossible. Most times people change their status to an H1 or another visa before filing for a green card.
Though the process was designed to be very efficient, and this is a great option for people living in Canada and Mexico, TN visas have their own requirements that must be met. Canadian Landed Permanent Residents do not qualify. You must be a citizen of either Canada or Mexico to qualify.
Also, your job must be on the NAFTA list of occupations. The list is nit-picky about job titles. In the IT industry, for example, a software developer does not qualify, but a computer systems analyst does, even though the job duties may overlap. Similarly, the list defines the education and experience needed to meet the position’s requirements. You must meet the exact qualifications listed to get the TN visa.
Other conditions pertaining to the TN visa:
Our clients also report delays and sometimes, rejections at the border crossing at Buffalo, NY even though they qualify for the TN. At times the Border Patrol rejects the visa, asking the worker to travel to the US Consulate in Canada to get the visa issued there. This can be time-consuming, costly and disrupts all planning.
It is our job to make the process easy for you. Both for initial filings and for extensions, we review your information and draft a petition for you, including the forms, recommendation letters and employer offer letter. We will also prepare you for the interview at the border so that your crossing is easy and clear. Often times, we are aware of the trends of when the Border Patrol officers are rejecting visas. We can guide you as to when you should travel, and whether you will need to go to the consulate first before trying to enter the US.
As part of our responsibilities, we help you figure out if the TN is the right visa for you considering your immediate as well as long-term plans. If your goal is to eventually get a green card and to live permanently in the US, we can help you convert to another visa so you can file for a green card. In such matters, both the timing and the cost effectiveness are extremely important. We take great pride in proving the right solution so the process is easy and efficient for you.