As an immigration attorney, I am often asked “What are some of the most expeditious ways to gain entry to the country?” If you possess certain professional skills and have an employer waiting to hire you in the United States, one of the easiest ways to enter the country is to obtain a TN Visa. In 1988, when Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), they established the TN Visa to allow entry of certain types of professionals who have a job already lined up in the country. This visa is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who have been trained as medical professionals, researchers, financial experts, or other high demand professionals.
In order to obtain a TN Visa, you must have an offer of employment from a business or organization in the United States. You must also have a Bachelor’s Degree or educational credentials requisite for the stated profession. You must present the letter of offered employment to immigration officials at the U.S. border along with documentation of educational degree, professional license or employment records demonstrating you are a qualified professional. You must also present a passport or birth certificate proving you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
As a TN visa attorney, I can vouch for the numerous advantages to utilizing the TN Visa. The visa provides temporary legal status for up to three years and extends to your spouse and any minor children. Your immediate family members are allowed to reside with you during your time in the U.S., however, they are not permitted to find employment unless they also qualify for a TN Visa or some type of work permit. Furthermore, the TN Visa can be renewed multiple times with no maximum number of years. You do not need to leave the country and re-enter to renew this visa; as long as your employer sponsors you, you may remain in the country.
The TN Visa can be acquired very quickly because it does not require official sponsorship from the Canadian or Mexican government. Unlike other visas, for Canadians, the TN Visa may be obtained at the border as long as proper documentation is provided. There is no cap on the number of Canadians who may receive a TN Visa, however, the number of Mexicans is limited. The TN status also confers a non-residency designation upon you, so you may not be required to pay state or federal taxes on income received.
There are some important considerations to make when choosing the TN Visa. TN status is considered a temporary status by the U.S. government, so you may be asked to show that you intend to leave once the visa expires. If you wish to change your status to legal residency through a green card, you must first obtain a visa other than TN.
Finally, if you apply for a TN Visa, you are strongly advised to seek legal assistance. The paperwork is not overly arduous, but it requires attention to detail and specific knowledge of immigration laws that are best handled by a trained legal professional.
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