TN Visa intent

TN visa status is a nonimmigrant visa for purposes of temporary employment in the United States.  Although your TN visa status is temporary, you are not precluded from future intent to immigrate. We explain what is meant by temporary nonimmigrant intent while working under TN visa status.

What is temporary intent (nonimmigrant) for a TN visa?

The USMCA (NAFTA) covers qualifying Canadian and Mexican business professionals coming to the United States for temporary employment purposes. Under 9 FAM 402.17, they provide the following explanation of temporary intent for TN visa purposes:

Under INA 214(b)Temporary entry means an entry into the United States without the intent to establish permanent residence.”  The department’s regulation (22 CFR 41.59(c)) amplifies this definition to provide additional guidance.  The essence of the requirement is that the applicant is seeking “temporary” entry into the United States.  You (Inspecting Officer) must be satisfied that the applicant’s proposed stay is temporary.  A temporary period has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.  The circumstances surrounding an application should reasonably and convincingly indicate that the employee’s temporary work assignment in the United States will end predictably and that the employee will depart upon completion of the assignment… Repeated renewal of a TN visa that leads to an extended stay in the United States, may still be temporary, if there is no immediate intent to immigrate.

US Customs and Border Protection provided additional guidance in a memo dated April 21, 2008, where they stated:

After reviewing applicable law for North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) applicants for admission, it is our determination that the mere filing or approval of an immigrant petition does not automatically constitute intent on the part of the beneficiary to abandon his or her foreign residence. This would hold for a TN principal who may be riding on a spouse’s immigrant petition. Of course, a TN applicant could have the intent to immigrate or adjust status at a future time, but as long as his or her intent at the time of application for admission is to be in the United States for a temporary time period pursuant to NAFTA (USCMA) and regulations at 8 CFR 214.6, her or she could be admitted.

At the time of entry to the United States under TN visa status, you must have the intent to work temporarily in the United States and to depart the United States at the end of your temporary employment. Continued TN visa extensions or renewals alone do not establish immigrant intent nor does future intent to immigrate or adjust status.

What is permanent intent (immigrant) for a TN visa?

Under 9 FAM 402.17, they continue to define nonimmigrant intent for TN visa purposes and the potential of future intent to immigrate:

An intent to immigrate in the future that is in no way connected to the proposed immediate trip need not in itself result in a finding that the immediate trip is not temporary.

Although your entry under TN-1 or TN-2 visa status must be temporary, this does not prevent you from changing your intent in the future. This is often the case after a TN visa has been issued and the employer makes an offer for permanent employment. While you are not permitted to work under TN-1 or TN-2 visa status for a permanent position, you are able to change from a nonimmigrant TN visa to an immigrant visa for permanent employment. The most common ways to go from TN visa status to an immigrant visa are through marriage to a US Citizen or through the permanent labor certification process (PERM).

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