If you’re a Mexican or Canadian citizen and have received a job offer in the United States, you may be eligible for a TN visa. Learn more here.
Eligibility for a TN Status
TN is abbreviated from “Trade NAFTA.” TN is a nonimmigrant visa for particular Canadian and Mexican citizens under the former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). That arrangement is now known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement. It creates certain trade and economic relationships between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
A TN visa permits Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States in certain professional occupations.
To be eligible for a TN visa status, an individual must possess proof of Mexican or Canadian citizenship. Additionally, a job with a U.S. or foreign employer with a U.S. entity must be pre-arranged.
Eligibility also is established upon the following:
- The job offered is one of the professional occupations listed in NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1,
- That the job is “temporary,”
- The worker meets the educational and/or licensing requirements for the job.
What Kind of Jobs Involve the TN-Visa?
A consultation with an experienced immigration attorney in Miami will assist in explaining what types of jobs normally qualify for a TN-Visa. These jobs can include: accountants, architects, systems analysts, engineers, graphic designers, lawyers, management consultants, research physicians, social workers, dentists, chemists, and college teachers.
What Does Temporary Mean for Purposes of the TN-Visa?
“Temporary” means that the job has a reasonable, finite end that does not amount to permanent residence. In order to establish that the immigrant’s entry will be temporary, the worker must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the inspecting immigration officer (whether it’s a CBP officer at a border post or an immigration officer from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the work assignment will end at a predictable time and that the worker will depart upon completion of the assignment.
What Are the Educational Requirements?
The educational requirements for each occupation are stated in the appendix to NAFTA. Most occupations require a bachelor’s degree or a post-secondary diploma with 3 years of experience. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico must also be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credential evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
TN Visa Professions
NAFTA Chapter 16 includes a list of approved jobs for a TN nonimmigrant status. There are over 60 occupations listed. However, the categories in some cases can be broad.
Moreover, a job title doesn’t have to match the NAFTA category perfectly. A wide range of occupations can qualify for TN status with the proper application. But, you may need additional help from a skilled immigration attorney.
The most complex of the professional categories within the TN-Visa context is ‘management consultants.’ While almost every other profession on the list generally requires a bachelor’s degree or higher, management consultants do not. They can substitute “five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement.”
The challenge with this occupation is that it could be more limited in duration. Normally, a company hires an individual for a short period of time to come in, identify problems in a company, and provide solutions. Generally speaking, they are not supposed to become permanent managers or employees of the company.
Computer Systems Analysts
For Canadian or Mexican professionals who wish to apply the TN-Visa as a computer systems analyst, they must possess either
1) A Bachelor’s or Licenciatura degree; or
2) A post-secondary diploma or certificate and three years of experience.
Since the term “computer systems analyst” is ambiguous, broad, and vague, immigration officers often utilize three resources to determine whether Canadian/Mexican applicants qualify. These resources include:
1. NAFTA Handbook;
2. Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL);
3. Memoranda sent by regional directors to ports of entries.
In addition, the immigration officers will consider two factors when evaluating an applicant’s eligibility as a computer systems analyst in the field. The first factor to be considered is whether the prospective job duties are consistent with the job duties generally performed by computer systems analysts in the field.
Generally speaking, unlike a layperson’s understanding, the tasks of computer systems analysts involve anything but “computer programming.” So, the key issue is that computer systems analysts are not computer programmers even though some of them may use computer programming in their jobs.
The second factor to be considered is whether the applicant holds the necessary degrees and/or experience. Preferably, one needs to have a computer science degree.
However, OOH lists degrees such as computer science, information science, applied mathematics, engineering, management information systems (MIS) and even an MBA with a concentration in information systems may qualify for TN-Visa.
The risk or concern is that immigration officers have the discretion to reject one’s TN visa application due to the fact that the applicant does not possess a computer science degree.
How Does the TN Visa Process Go?
The process for applying for TN status is different depending on whether the individual is a Canadian or Mexican citizen.
Canadian citizens can apply at a U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) port of entry. They can also have their employer submit the TN application along with Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) to the USCIS.
Mexican citizens can submit the paperwork to a U.S. consulate or embassy with Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). They will also have to attend an interview and receive a visa number before seeking entry.
In both cases, an individual will also need an employment letter summarizing the job and other information like salary or length of employment. Individuals will also need proof of their qualifications.
Why Is a TN Visa Preferred to Canadian and Mexican Professionals?
One advantage of the TN visa is that it may be renewed indefinitely in three-year increments, although it is important to establish that the job will end at a finite period. Also, as previously mentioned, TN visas are available year-round.
If NAFTA Ends, What Will Become of the TN-Visa?
In 2017, the Trump Administration reportedly sought renegotiation of NAFTA. There were earlier indications that the White House was considering an order to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement altogether. Although negotiations began in the Fall of 2017, the impact on immigration provisions remains unclear. However, TN visa workers have experienced repeated scrutiny over whether their jobs actually qualified as a designated TN occupational category and/or how their credentials qualified under those categories.
Should NAFTA end, TN visas would no longer be available to immigrants from Canada and Mexico. However, such a withdrawal would still require Congressional approval, which could take several years to implement. Therefore, current TN visa holders should not immediately worry but should consult with an experienced Miami immigration attorney so they may be informed of alternative immigration options during this climate of uncertainty.
What Is the Immigration Lawyer’s Role in a TN Petition?
Our Miami Immigration lawyer will help you gather the required information and documentation for the TN-Visa. After that, we will carefully prepare all documentation needed to obtain your TN-Visa approval.
We will draft the TN job letter and we will communicate with you and the USCIS while the application is being processed up until adjudication.
At Murray & Silva, P.A., our team of immigration attorneys is dedicated to guiding you through this process. We will do our best so you can achieve your desired outcome by using our compassion, knowledge, and, most importantly, years of experience.
Contact our employment–based immigration attorney today and find out how we can help!
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