TN visa

The TN Visa, designed for Canadian and Mexican nationals, allows professionals to engage in activities with U.S. employers or clients. However, it’s important to understand the limitations regarding self-employment under this visa category.

Employment Necessities for TN Visa Eligibility

A crucial condition for obtaining a TN Visa is having confirmed employment or business engagements with a U.S. employer or client. The visa process demands concrete proof of a valid job offer or contract. Unlike some other visas, the TN Visa does not accommodate potential or speculative employment opportunities.

Defining Self-Employment within TN Visa Constraints

“Self-employment” for TN Visa purposes occurs when a professional provides services to a business they own or control substantially. According to the USDOS Foreign Affairs Manual and Handbook (9 FAM 402.17), the TN Visa is not intended for establishing or managing a U.S. business where the visa holder is essentially self-employed. Indicators of self-employment include owning, controlling, or being the principal income earner of the U.S. entity.

Situations Involving Foreign Company Ownership

If you own a foreign company with U.S. contracts, this arrangement is not classified as self-employment under TN Visa standards. This model is frequent among IT professionals and management consultants, where a foreign company is contracted to provide services to a U.S. client. Here, the employment dynamics still align with TN Visa regulations.

Independent Contractors and TN Visa Compliance

Being an independent contractor does not automatically equate to self-employment. TN Visa compliance is maintained if the professional works in the U.S. under an employment agreement or a contract with a U.S. entity, wherein the U.S. party has control over the employment terms.

Alternative Visa Options for Self-Employed Individuals

For individuals who are genuinely self-employed or significantly involved in a U.S. business, alternative visa options like the L-1, E-1, or E-2 might be more fitting. The E-1 and L-1 visas, in particular, are suitable for those with multiple U.S. clients, offering a more appropriate pathway for entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals seeking to work in the United States.

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