TN Visas (NAFTA)

Helping Mexican and Canadian Citizens Work in Wisconsin

Most visa categories are available for foreign nationals from every country in the world. However, there are a small number of special visas that are reserved for foreign nationals from only a few specific countries. Because of the exclusive nature of these special visas, they are often overlooked and under-utilized when planning an immigration strategy, which is why consulting a skilled Wisconsin immigration attorney can really assist a foreign national in selecting which visa best fits the national’s qualifications. At Attorney Spiros Stavros Nicolet, our experienced attorneys work diligently to see that our clients understand all of their immigration options and can make informed decisions to best serve their interests.

One special visa is called the TN visa and it is reserved for professional workers from Canada or Mexico.

The TN Visa

The TN visa allows Canadian or Mexican citizens who work in specific professional occupations to pursue employment with a U.S. employer. To qualify for the TN visa, the foreign national must be a citizen of either Canada or Mexico, must have a job offer for temporary employment from a U.S. employer, and must possess the qualifications necessary to perform the duties of that job. Additionally, the job position must be on the list of approved occupations for the TN visa. These occupations include accountant, architect, dentist, economist, computer systems analyst, engineer, graphic designer, and lawyer. The complete list of the more than 50 approved TN occupations can be accessed from this government website.

How to Apply for the TN Visa for Canadian Citizens

The materials needed for TN application are the same regardless of the foreign national’s citizenship. All TN applications must contain a letter from the U.S. employer that confirms the job offer to the foreign worker and that explains the job duties and how the worker is qualified to perform these duties. The applications must also contain proof of the foreign worker’s job-related qualifications (degree, license, etc.)

For Canadian citizens, to apply for the TN visa all they have to do is bring the employment letter, evidence of their qualifications, and their passport to the U.S. port of entry (typically the international airport). At the port of entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will adjudicate their TN application right then and there. If the officer approves the TN application, the officer will admit the applicant into the United States and stamp the passport with the TN stamp.

How to Apply for the TN Visa for Mexican Citizens

The TN application procedure for Mexican citizens is slightly different. Mexican citizens do not go directly to the U.S.-Mexico border to present their TN applications but instead go to the U.S. consulate and provides the documents to an officer there. Upon approval of the applicant for TN status, the officer will give the applicant the TN visa.

The Benefits of the TN Visa

The TN is a great employment-based visa option for qualifying Mexican and Canadian citizens for many reasons. First, the requirements for the TN visa are much simpler than those required for the highly sought after H-1B visa. For the H-1B visa, the U.S. employer must obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA), complete multiple forms, and pay several government fees that can total thousands of dollars. For the TN visa, the employer does not have to pay any fee and does not need to obtain an LCA.

Second, there is no limit to how times a foreign national can extend the TN status, in contrast to H-1B visa holders who can only have six years of H-1B status (with limited exceptions).

Third, there is also no limit to how many TN visas will be given out each year. There is a congressionally mandated cap on the number of H-1B visas that can be approved each year (65,000 with an additional 20,000 reserved for applicants with U.S. Master’s degrees) and every year the demand far exceeds the supply with the result that several thousand hopeful H-1B applicants cannot receive the visa. The TN visa has no numerical cap.

Working with an experienced Wisconsin immigration lawyer will help prospective TN applications decide which visa best suits their needs and their immigration goals. You can reach us by phone at 773-562-6884, or by using our online contact form. Contact our office today to speak to a skilled member of our legal team and start the process toward working in the United States!

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