TN Visas (NAFTA)

The Dallas, Frisco, and North Texas attorneys of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. represent U.S. employers and their Canadian and Mexican employees in thoroughly documenting eligibility for TN status (including the more difficult Management Consultant cases), in drafting visa applications and preparing Mexican employees for their visa interviews, and in advising Canadian employees about port of entry and pre-flight inspection processing of their applications for admission. We also engage in the strategic immigration planning which is especially necessary to design comprehensive U.S. immigration solutions for those cases involving a potential long-term plan for the Canadian or Mexican citizen to immigrate to the United States.

Qualifying Occupations

Qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens who seek admission to work in the U.S. at a professional level in specifically named occupations for an identified U.S. employer are eligible to apply for TN nonimmigrant visa status which is authorized by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Self-employment is not permitted. The professions specifically named in NAFTA include, among others: accountant, architect, computer systems analyst, economist, engineer (including software engineers), interior designer, librarian, management consultant, mathematician, medical/allied professional, scientist, social worker, teacher, urban planner, and veterinarian. NAFTA sets forth with specificity the educational and work experience requirements for each listed profession. Some professionals are limited to performing only certain types of work in the U.S. For example, TN teachers may work only in colleges, universities and seminaries; and physicians in TN status may engage in teaching or research only. Management consultant applications are subject to special scrutiny and have additional requirements and limitations.

Additional Benefits of TN Status

Unlike H-1B specialty workers, petitions for whom there is a limited and numerically insufficient annual cap, there is no cap on the number of TN beneficiaries who can be granted status in the U.S. each year.

For those whose occupations appear on the list of recognized TN professions, possessing the educational and work experience requirements set forth for each profession, who in turn will work in the U.S. in the named profession, TN status provides the additional benefit of streamlined processing. No advance filing with USCIS is required. Canadian citizens entering the U.S. in TN status are visa exempt; Mexican citizens entering the U.S. in TN status must first obtain a visa. But, citizens of neither country nor their U.S. employers need to wait for USCIS processing of a petition, before moving on to the step of visa application and/or admission to the U.S.

An additional benefit of TN classification relates to the period of stay in the U.S. Unlike the six year limit on H-1B status, the seven year limit on L-1A status, and the five year limit on L-1B status, there is no statutory limit on consecutive years spent in TN status. But, TN beneficiaries must still prove that they intend to return home and that they do not intend to immigrate to the U.S. The dual intent doctrine does not apply to TN applicants; therefore, special care must be taken with respect to strategic immigration planning for those considering TN status.

Dependent family members may accompany the TN beneficiary and assume TD status. They may study in the U.S., but are not permitted to work.

An Alternative to TN Status

For professions which may fall outside of those appearing on the NAFTA list, for persons not possessing NAFTA’s requisite professional qualifications and/or work experience, or for those persons who have not only short-term work planned as a nonimmigrant but who also plan to immigrate permanently to the U.S., other nonimmigrant visa statuses might be considered including H-1B specialty workers, a status which does recognize the permissibility of dual nonimmigrant/immigrant intent.