Hiring a Canadian citizen has many advantages over hiring other foreign nationals. The US Mexico Canada Agreement (the USMCA formerly NAFTA) created a special work visa classification for Canadian business professionals called TN-1 visa status. Under the USMCA, US employers can bring qualified Canadian professionals to work in the United States under any one of the listed USMCA professions. Find out why you should consider hiring Canadian citizens under the TN-1 visa program.
What is the TN-1 Visa?
The TN-1 is a US work visa only available to citizens of Canada. The TN-1 Visa is available for Canadian citizens that will be working in the United States under one of the designated USCMA Professions, it is available year-round, has no numerical limitations is cost-effective, and is generally quick to obtain. The process of hiring and employing a Canadian citizen on a TN-1 Visa is much less onerous than hiring employees under the H-1B visa program. Any Canadian citizen that meets the minimum education and experience requirements for the profession under the USMCA that has a valid job offer from a US employer is able to obtain a TN-1 visa.
What are the advantages of hiring a Canadian on a TN-1 Visa?
As a US employer you should consider hiring Canadian citizens under TN-1 visa status for several reasons:
- No Lottery or Numerical Limitations – Unlike the H-1B Visa where you must obtain a visa through an annual lottery, the TN-1 visa can be applied for at any time year-round with no numerical limitations.
- Quick Approval – Canadians can apply the same day with the proper supporting documents at a US Port of Entry and often begin working within a few days to weeks.
- Unlimited Renewals – Tn-1 Visa status can be issued in three-year terms and is renewable indefinitely. There is no limit to the number of renewals or time a Canadian can be employed on a TN-1 visa as long the employee can demonstrate their intent to return to their foreign residence at the end of their temporary US employment.
- US Permanent Residence (Green Card) – Similar to the H-1B visa, a Canadian citizen can go from a TN-1 Visa to US permanent residence (Green Card).
- Low Cost – Filing fees are nominal if done at a US port of entry.
- Can Change Employers – If the potential employee is already inside the US, they can change employers while remaining inside the US through USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Foreign Worker or by returning to a US port of entry and applying in person.
What are the requirements for the TN-1 Visa?
If you plan on hiring a Canadian citizen under TN-1 visa status, you must meet the following requirements:
- A support letter – A support letter is similar to an offer letter but contains more details about the position being offered, duties to be performed, and how the employee meets the qualifications for the profession under the USCMA.
- Proof of Qualifications – You must provide proof of the potential employee’s qualifications for the profession and TN-1 Visa status. This includes copies of degrees, certificates, diplomas, proof of experience, etc. Foreign credentials require a credentials evaluation.
- Proof of Temporary Employment – You must demonstrate that the position being offered to the employee is for a temporary time period and that the employee intends to return to their foreign residence at the end of the employment.
How do we apply for a TN-1 Visa?
There are two ways to apply for a TN-1 Visa. This depends on whether the potential employee is already inside the United States or will be coming over directly from Canada. The options include:
- TN-1 Visa via Border Processing – Canadian citizens are able to apply for TN-1 Visa status at a qualifying preflight inspection point or port of entry. With the proper supporting documents, the reviewing officer will issue the TN-1 visa status the same day and the employee will use the visa to travel to the US and commence their employment.
- TN-1 Visa via USCIS Form I-129 – If the potential employee is already in the United States in legal immigration status, you can file Form I-129 Petition for Foreign Worker with USCIS. Upon approval, they will be able to commence their employment. There are standard and expedited processing options available. This process is slower and more expensive than applying in person. The potential employee cannot start working until USCIS approves the petition.
How fast is the TN-1 Visa process?
Obtaining a TN-1 Visa can be very fast. An application can be done the same day at a qualifying US port of entry, or in as little as 15 days with premium processing by mail with USCIS.
Does the TN-1 Visa require sponsorship?
Unlike the H-1B visa, the TN-1 visa does not require a test of the labor market for US workers or obtaining certification from the Department of Labor. Employment is at-will and the TN-1 visa terminates if the employee quits or is terminated from their position. Although the TN-1 visa does not require sponsorship, it does require the employer to provide a support letter indicating their willingness to employ the foreign national on a TN-1 visa under a qualifying TN visa profession.
If you are a US employer looking to fill professional-level positions that fall under the USCMA professions list, hiring Canadian citizens is a cost-effective, straightforward, and quick solution.
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