TN-1: PROFESSIONALS UNDER NAFTA

Overview

The TN-1 nonimmigrant visa classification was created by the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), and applies exclusively to qualified Canadian citizens to work temporarily in certain pre-designated professions in the United States You must have a job offer from a U.S. entity in an occupation listed on NAFTA’s Appendix 1603.D.1(Annotated) list of professions and you must meet the entry-level requirements for the position. A shortened list of commonly used TN visa categories can be viewed by clicking here.

Basic Requirements

For most occupations, you must have at least a B.S. degree or foreign degree equivalent. An equivalency cannot be based on experience alone or on a combination of experience and education. However, some listed occupations require only a two- or three-year post secondary diploma and three years of experience (e.g., Computer Systems Analyst and Graphic Designer.) For a Management Consultant, either a B.S. degree or at least five years of experience as a consultant is required. For some occupations, such as Architect and Occupational Therapist, possession of a state/provisional license may be sufficient to qualify.

Click here to see the list of occupations

Obtaining TN Visa

Applicant can apply for TN admission at designated “Pre-Flight Inspection stations” – located within major Canadian international airports – before leaving Canada.

The required paper work includes a petition letter from the sponsoring employer, evidence of your qualification (educational documents (original & copy) and/or reference letters depending upon the classification), filing fees of $50 (USD and subject to change) and evidence of Canadian citizenship. Please note that if you enter through a border crossing, you will also be charged an additional $6 (subject to change) for each form I-94 issued. The CBP officer will review the paperwork and adjudicate the application for admission. If you are admitted, you will be issued a Form I-94 valid for the time specified on the employer letter (usually one year) and marked for multiple-entry. If you present your Canadian passport, your passport will be stamped with an admission stamp as well. You do not need a visa stamp issued by a U.S. Consulate abroad prior to applying for entry.

A spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 qualify for admission under NAFTA, regardless of nationality. They will be issued a Form I-94 marked as “TD” (Trade Dependent) with the same expiration date of the principal’s TN status. However, if your dependents are not Canadian citizens, they must apply for the TD visa at a U.S. Consulate prior to admission as a TD nonimmigrant.

Change of Employer

TN Visa holder can change employers. The new TN employer must either file a new petition with the USCIS service center which must be approved prior to your commencing employment. Alternately, you may also submit a new TN application package by the new employer as set forth above and be re-admitted as a TN to work for that employer.

You may not start work with the new employer until an actual approval notice is issued by the USCIS, or you must travel and re-enter the U.S. and present a new TN application packet based on the new employment.

Advantages of TN Visa

No limit to the number of TN extension. there is no set “cap” on the amount of time a Canadian citizen may remain in the United States in TN-1 status. However, the longer you remain on a TN, the more likely it is that CBP at the port of entry will question your temporary intent and may deny you entry despite having an unexpired, multiple entry I-94 card.

TN visa holder can apply for a greencard. Theoretically, there is no “dual intent” for TNS. This means that you must continue to maintain a permanent address in Canada and prove that you have the intent to return permanently to Canada while pursuing the Green Card. This can be difficult to prove particularly after your employer has filed the first stage of green card processing (i.e., an Alien Employment Certification) on your behalf. Many TNs choose to change status to H1B in order to avoid problems in traveling on a TN during the Green Card process.

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