This post explores provides an overview of the TN Visa process for those who qualify as NAFTA professionals. It is designed to help amazing Canadian & Mexican employees and US employers who want to know what to expect.
Two Options for TN Applicants: US Port of Entry and USCIS
The first thing to understand is that your TN Visa process is going to look different depending on the application process that you choose.
The most common path to TN status involves applying for it in person at a US Port of Entry.
Canadian and Mexican Nationals can simply take their supporting documentation to the Port of Entry to request the status.
The other option involves applying for the status by mail through USCIS.
Before we get to the process for applying, it would be helpful to know what the decision maker will be looking for in your application package.
The Key TN Visa Requirements
There are two main requirements for the TN Visa.
First, the position in the US must require a NAFTA professional. An offer for a position that does not require such a professional will not qualify. For example, a bookkeeper is not an accountant. A teacher’s aide is not a teacher. Although employers may prefer a professional to fill such positions, there must be a direct and clear link between the profession and the job title.
Also, the position must be temporary and offered for a specific duration. This duration(which can be from one day to three years) should be listed on the support letter that the employer will draft to support the application.
The professional that is seeking TN status must have the qualifications to practice in the profession as listed in Appendix 1603.D.1.
Certain professionals must have a specific degree to qualify. For example…
- Accountants need an accounting degree or license
- Lawyers need a law degree or license
- Engineers need a degree in engineering or related field
Other professions allow experience. These professions include:
- Computer Systems Analysts
- Graphic Designers
- Interior Designers
Should you apply for TN Status through USCIS or a Port of Entry?
In the vast majority of cases, I recommend applying for TN status in person at a US port of entry. This method is fast(decision is typically made within 30 minutes). Additionally, it is inexpensive and convenient compared to filing through mail.
The only major downside is that you do not know with any degree of certainty if you will be able to enter the US after showing up at the port of entry with your documents in hand.
Applying for TN Status at a US Port of Entry
If you decide to go through the TN visa process at a port of entry, you will bring the following documents:
- Original Passport
- Original Support Letter
- Degrees and Transcripts
- Experience Letters
- Degree Evaluations(if applicable)
- Pages from Employers Website(if helpful)
- Statement of Non Immigrant Intent
Applying for the TN Visa Via Mail(USCIS Filing)
If you decide to apply by mail, you will send the items mentioned above as well as…
- Form G-28(if you are assisted by a lawyer)
- Form I-129 and NAFTA Supplement
- Form I-907(if premium processing is requested)
- Proof of doing business(from employer)
- Filing fee for the form I-129(currently $460)
- Premium processing fee of $1440 (if applicable)
Once the application is filed by mail, you can typically expect a decision within 2-4 months. If you shell out the extra money for premium processing, you can expect a decision within 15 days.
Check Out the TN Visa Process Flowchart Below!
Below, you will find a flowchart that provides a broad overview of the TN Visa process and key considerations. I hope that this post combined with the flowchart helps you gain a basic understanding the TN visa process.
The next step is to reach out to business immigration lawyer who can help to reduce your stress and successfully guide you through the process.
Good luck on your TN Visa journey!