When compared to the process of obtaining other work visas, such as an H-1B Visa or an L-1 Visa, it is rather easy to get a TN Visa. In fact, in many cases, you can obtain a TN Visa the same day at a qualifying port of entry. But exactly how hard or easy it is for you to get one depends on you—your qualifications, your preparation, and your situation.
What is TN Visa Status?
The TN status is granted only to Canadian and Mexican professionals in occupations listed under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) formerly known as NAFTA. There are multiple different TN Visa professions that qualify for TN visas under the USCMA, from biologists, management consultants, college teachers, engineers, accountants, computer engineers, computer systems analysts, registered nurses, graphic designers, and many more. If done correctly, the process to get a TN visa approved does not have to be hard. With the proper representation and supporting documents, the TN Visa application process can be straightforward. For Canadians and Mexicans who have a qualifying job offer in the US, applying for a TN Visa is generally the quickest way to legally work in the United States. However, getting TN status is not as easy as it may seem. There are various challenges that may keep a TN Visa applicant from entering the US, even when they are qualified for a TN Visa. If you’re not properly prepared and don’t have the necessary supporting documents, it can be difficult to get approved, and even lead to unintended consequences.
Here are 6 things to keep in mind when applying for a TN Visa.
1. Make sure you are applying for a TN Visa profession listed under USMCA (NAFTA).
The USCMA (NAFTA) TN professions list includes all the qualifying professions for a TN Visa. When applying for a TN Visa, you must apply under one of the many listed professions. You cannot obtain a TN Visa for a profession that is not designated on the TN Professions list under the USMCA. If you apply for a TN visa under a profession not included on the professions list, you might be denied.
2. Make sure you meet the minimum requirements for the TN Visa profession.
Once you have identified your TN Visa profession, make sure you meet the specific minimum education and experience requirements listed under the USMCA for that profession. If do you not meet the minimum education and experience requirements, you might be denied. Additionally, the TN Visa applicant must have a pre-arranged job offer from a US employer to fill that TN profession.
TN Professions List TN Visa Requirements
3. Make sure you provide the necessary supporting documents with your TN Visa application.
It is up to you to provide proof that you qualify for a TN Visa. The required supporting documents for a TN visa will vary depending on how you apply, either in person with USCBP, by mail with USCIS, or in person at a US Consulate or Embassy. Your proof of qualifications must be documented with papers, such as a job contract, a job offer letter, original degrees and certificates, and proof of license to practice (when required). If relying on experience, you must have proof in the form of letters from previous employers. Make sure you understand the specific requirements where you intend on applying to avoid complications with your TN Visa application.
Consular and CBP officers have wide discretion regarding what evidence is acceptable and often challenge an applicant’s education and qualifications for the TN Visa. They often deny TN visas for documentation issues. For example, they may review the job offer letter and find that it is insufficient to prove that the position qualifies under a TN Visa profession. (Mexican citizens applying for a new TN visa have the added step of applying at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico.)
4. Make sure you are aware of the current requirements and regulations.
The laws, regulations, and procedures that govern the TN Visa application process are constantly changing. It is important to be aware of and apply under the most recent regulations. Some of the most common errors when applying for a TN visa are relying on past decisions or old TN application materials, applying under old regulations, or based on previous experience. Being unaware of changes in the TN Visa application process will cause problems with your application, and you may face complications. Just because you were approved in the past does not mean that you will be approved in the future. In fact, denials on subsequent TN Visa applications are common. Before making a TN visa application make sure you are in compliance with current practices.
5. Make sure your “intent to depart” is still clearly in place.
Since a TN Visa classification is a temporary work visa (nonimmigrant status), you may need to prove that they intend to depart the US after employment or after the visa has expired. If it is found that you plan to stay in the US—for example, if you are planning to apply for a green card once admitted to the country—the reviewing officer may take this as a sign of immigrant intent. While applying for a green card is not prohibited for TN visa holders, doing so may cast doubt on the applicant’s initial TN Visa petition or on a TN Visa renewal.
6. Hire a TN Visa lawyer.
The best way to ensure the TN Visa application process is as easy and straightforward as possible is to seek the advice of a qualified TN Visa Lawyer from the beginning. That way, you are made aware of any potential issues ahead of time, and you can avoid unnecessary denials. For TN Visa applicants that have been denied, you should not proceed without first seeking advice from an experienced TN Visa lawyer.
We Can Help!
Don’t know where to start?
If you have questions about whether your particular situation qualifies, contact Richards and Jurusik for help with your TN Visa application. We have more than 30+ years of experience helping people live and work in the US under TN Visa Status. In many cases, we start with a case assessment and offer several levels of TN Visa legal services to fit your needs.