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TN Visas for NAFTA Professionals

Serving Canadian & Mexican Citizens from Offices in San Mateo

A TN visa is granted specifically to Canadian and Mexican citizens who are coming to the U.S. to engage in professional activities. A “professional activity” is defined by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as requiring “at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional.” TN applicants must prove their intent not to immigrate.

The TN visa may be a better fit for you (if you are Canadian or Mexican) than other visas, such as the H1B visa. Below is a list of the five basic things to know about the TN visa, which you should consider in determining whether this is the best visa option for you.

1. The TN Visa Does Not Permit Self-Employment

The TN visa does not permit self-employment. Therefore, a Canadian or Mexican citizen cannot set up a business in the U.S. and then sponsor him or herself. A TN visa holder may not be the sole owner or have a controlling interest in the U.S. sponsoring company. To start up a company in the U.S., then the E visa or L visa may be alternative options to consider.

2. The TN Visa Does Not Permit Permanent Residency

The TN visa does not permit immigrant intent (i.e. is not a dual intent visa). This means that the TN visa applicant must prove, at the time of the initial application and each renewal, that he or she is not intending to stay in the U.S. permanently. If a TN visa holder wants to apply for permanent residence (i.e. a green card), then he or she can either first change status to an H-1B visa holder or strategically time the TN renewal so that it does not occur while the green card application is pending.

3. The TN Visa Can Be Renewed Indefinitely

The TN visa can be indefinitely renewed. This visa is valid for three years but, in theory, there is no statutory limit as to how many times it can be renewed. However, the TN visa is not supposed to be used as a substitute for a green card and an immigration officer can deny renewal if he or she feels the visa is being abused.

4. The TN Visa Does Not Permit Dependents to Work in the U.S.

The TN visa does not permit dependents to work in the U.S. The spouse and children (under age 21 and unmarried) of a TN visa holder may accompany or follow to join him or her using the TD visa, but may not accept employment. They may, however, attend school full-time.

5. The TN Professional Visa Does Not Always Require Education

The TN visa does not require a Bachelor’s degree for all professional positions. This is a great advantage of the TN visa as it allows a Canadian or Mexican citizen who has the experience, but no degree, to still enter and work in the U.S.

Speak to an Attorney for TN Visas in San Mateo

If you have any questions regarding the TN visa or any other visa, we invite you to contact The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm for an initial consultation. Our San Mateo immigration lawyer provides legal services throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and worldwide. We look forward to discussing your case with you.

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