TN visa wage requirements

A frequently asked question concerning the TN Visa is salary or minimum wage requirements. Although the TN visa doesn’t mandate the employer to the same prevailing wage standards as an H1B visa, offering a wage that is inconsistent with the profession and area of employment can be a cause for concern and even denial. Adding equity compensation further complicates the issue. We break wage requirements for TN Visa status here.

1. Does the TN Visa status have a minimum wage requirement?

While there isn’t an explicit minimum wage TN visa status, it’s imperative that the employer meets the minimum wage laws at federal, state, or local levels. In addition, the proferred wage should be consistent with the pay of other similarly situated professionals in the area of intended employment. Offering an Engineer a salary of $30,000/year in an area where an Engineer would typically make $50,000/year or more would be a red flag.

2. Will any wage work for a TN visa?

Not quite. The salary should be indicative of the employee’s qualifications and their prospective role in the U.S. This implies that the TN application should not only indicate the offered compensation but also validate that the pay is consistent with their professional skills and expected duties. The Foreign Affairs Manual gives reviewing officers the following guidance:

Unlike H-1B visas, there is no prevailing wage requirement for TN visas.  You should, however, verify that the salary proposed is indicative of professional-level employment in the United States. 9 FAM 402.17 USMCA PROFESSIONALS – TN AND TD VISAS

3. What Constitutes a Suitable Salary?

The salary should be on par with what professionals in similar roles in the area of intended employment typically earn. An engineer should be paid what the typical engineer in the intended area of employment would earn, not the wage of an engineering technician.

4. Can I receive Equity Instead of a Salary for a TN Visa?

Pure equity compensation doesn’t meet the TN visa wage requirements.  The offered wage must be defined in terms of wages per hour, week, month, or year.  Equity doesn’t guarantee payment in these terms and raises additional concerns about possible self-employment. Any equity of 50% or more in a company typically implies self-employment which is not allowed under TN visa status.

In Conclusion

While there’s no explicit prevailing wage rule as in the H1B visa, wage provisions for TN Visa holders must be in line with certain guidelines. Employers must adhere to the minimum wage laws—whether federal, state, or local—and ensure that the salary offered mirrors what professionals in comparable roles earn in the specified employment region. Anomalies in the offered wage, compared to typical salaries in the profession and region, could raise concerns, potentially jeopardizing visa approval.

Additionally, the wage should be in line with the employee’s credentials and prospective duties in the U.S. Contrary to some beliefs, merely receiving equity as compensation isn’t compliant with the TN visa wage directives. Equity, especially when it suggests significant ownership and potential self-employment, can be cause for denial. In conclusion, the TN Visa wage requirements, while not as stringent as some other visa categories, still merit careful consideration.

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