As a Canadian, should I apply for a TN Visa or an H-1B Visa? - Resources Blog - US Immigration FAQs - Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law - Buffalo NY

Canadians are often confused about whether to apply for a TN Visa as a NAFTA professional, or to apply for an H-1B Visa as a Specialty Occupation temporary worker. Each year, many people (Canadians included) receive the often-devastating news that their H-1B Visa petition was not selected in the H-1B Visa lottery. However, Canadians are in a unique situation where they may still have options to work in the United States under the USMCA (NAFTA).

TN Visas for NAFTA Professionals

The TN Visa continues to be one of the best options for work in the United States for most Canadian and Mexican Citizens.

The TN Visa classification is reserved for qualified Canadian citizens working in one of 63 designated NAFTA professions, including management consultants, computer professionals, engineers, accountants, graphic designers, statisticians, social workers, pharmacists, veterinarians, biologists, chemists, teachers, and others.

A TN visa can be issued in three (3) year increments, with no maximum number of extensions. Despite recent conversations surrounding NAFTA, it remains in full force and is a very viable option for many Canadian citizens.

Some of the main advantages of the TN-1 visa are:

  • 63 professional occupations
  • No lottery or yearly limit
  • Same-day decision at the border or pre-flight inspection
  • Visa term of 1 day and up to 3 years at a time
  • Unlimited visa extensions
  • A path to US permanent residence through employer sponsorship

TN Visas vs. H-1B Visas

The following comparison chart for the TN Visa and H-1B Visa will help you decide what type of visa is most suitable for you.

Application Time Immediate border processing Varies from 2 to 6 months
Length of Stay 1 day to 3 years 1 day to 3 years
Maximum Period of Stay Unlimited renewals Generally a maximum of 6 years
Renewal Processing Locations Can be renewed at the border or by mail via a service center Can only be processed via mail by a service center
Available Professions Restricted to 63 NAFTA TN Professions Must be a “specialty occupation” that requires a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge
Education Requirements Depends on the profession (some require advanced degrees, others don’t require a degree) but experience cannot be substituted for education Requires the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) and experience can be substituted for education
Work Experience Requirements Depends on the profession (some require several years of experience, some don’t require any experience) No experience is required unless specified by the employer or customary for the position being filled
Wage Requirements None Must be paid the higher of either: 1) the prevailing wage as determined by the US Department of Labor (DOL); or, 2) the actual wage paid by the employer to employees in similar positions
Labor Condition Application Not required An LCA must be filed by the employer with the USDOL (generally takes 7 business days)
Public Access File (PAF) Not required Must be kept on file for review by request with evidence of all compliance with labor and employment conditions
US Government Filing Fees A nominal processing fee of around $56 USD is charged at the Port of Entry Can vary from $1,575 USD up to several thousand USD

About TN Visas About H-1B Visas

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