When the United States, Mexico, and Canada passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the three nations agreed to allow citizens to work temporarily in each other’s countries, provided the citizens had professional backgrounds and met specific eligibility requirements.
In the U.S., a work visa was created for these professionals, called a Trade NAFTA visa, or TN visa. Although the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement replaced NAFTA in 2020, the initials of “TN” are still used for this visa classification.
Alfredo Lozano, founder and principal attorney of The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC, has compiled a list of questions regarding the TN visa that he has answered for clients. Mr. Lozano is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He and his team have provided advice and legal assistance on TN visa issues to both corporations and individuals.
What Is a TN Visa? Who Is Eligible?
A TN visa is a temporary, non-immigrant work visa for citizens of Mexico or Canada who are employed in certain skilled occupations. To be eligible, applicants must:
- Provide proof of their citizenship. Permanent residents are ineligible.
- Have a full-time or part-time job offer from an employer based in the United States. The employer can be an American firm or a foreign firm with physical premises in the U.S.
- Have (at minimum) a bachelor’s degree in the field in which they will be working. Depending on the job, several years of experience may also be required.
- Fill a role in one of 60-plus skilled professions defined by the U.S. Government as needing employees. Examples include scientists, architects, medical professionals, and professors.
Where Do Business Workers Obtain TN Visas?
There are different requirements for Mexican and Canadian citizens. Each application has service and processing fees.
- Mexican workers must obtain a TN2 visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate before coming to a port of entry. The TN2 designation simply indicates the visa holder is a Mexican citizen.
- Canadian workers may present their documents to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the port of entry. Their application to enter the United States will be approved or denied on the spot. If their application is approved, the workers will receive TN1 status, which signifies the worker is a Canadian citizen. The TN1 permission is technically not a TN visa, but it follows the rules of TN visas.
Alternatively, prospective employers can submit Form I-129 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of their Canadian employees. If the application is approved, the Canadian worker brings it and other documents to the port of entry for review by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
- Both Mexican and Canadian citizens should note that a visa, or an approved Form I-129, are only invitations to appear in front of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, who have the authority to deny the petitioner’s request to enter the United States.
Given the complexity and costs of this procedure, it is important for U.S.-based companies to make sure that their foreign employees have all necessary documents and are prepared to answer questions from U.S. officials. An experienced business immigration attorney is a valuable resource in ensuring that corporations and their new hires navigate this process correctly.
When Does a TN Visa Expire? Can It Be Renewed?
The initial TN visa is granted for a period of up to three years. At the end of three years, if the employer wishes to extend the worker’s contract, the employer can file papers to renew the worker’s TN visa.
Can the Same TN Visa Be Used for Multiple Employers?
No. Each TN visa is connected to one employer only. TN visas are invalid if the employee leaves the company or if the job ends.
TN visa holders are allowed to receive another job offer in the same profession. In this case, the new employer may file paperwork to request that the worker’s original TN visa becomes linked to the new company. This process has several steps and should be undertaken by a knowledgeable business immigration lawyer.
Can Family Members Join the TN Visa Holder in the U.S.?
TN visa holders can bring their spouse and unmarried children who are under the age of 21 to the United States. Family members of TN visa holders are not allowed to work. However, they are allowed to study.
- Mexican citizen family members must apply for a TD (TN Dependent) visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Canadian citizen family members must demonstrate they are related to the TN visa holder by providing a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or other proof to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the port of entry. They do not require visas.
- Family members who are citizens of other countries must check with the U.S. Department of State to determine if they need a visa.
The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC: Business Immigration Lawyers Who Understand Your TN Visa Needs
Whether you are a business executive who needs TN visas for your Mexican and Canadian employees, or you are a TN visa holder seeking solutions for your particular situation, The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC, is ready to assist you. Our experienced team is familiar with all the nuances of TN visas and has successfully represented clients who required TN visas.
Call us today at (210) 932-3600 or fill out our online form to request a consultation. Our business immigration law firm has offices in San Antonio, Eagle Pass, and San Angelo, Texas.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.