The purpose of this article is to provide you with a basic understanding of how your company can benefit from the use of TN visas. In this article, we will use a US company seeking a Mexican citizen engineer as an example.
Why is a TN Visa Required? The North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), which went into effect on January 1, 1994, was designed in part to increase trade and improve business relations between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. As a part of NAFTA, US companies can hire professionals from Mexico without meeting many of the onerous requirements that are encountered with H1B or H2B visas. Here is a complete list of occupations for which TN visas are available. In our example, your role as a US employer would be to show that your company has a need for an engineer.
The employment need can be full time or part time. Your company would go through the hiring process of screening qualified candidates and making a selection. A support letter would need to be drafted, answering at a minimum the following questions:
What is the job title being offered to the candidate?
What exactly will the candidate be doing for the company?
Where exactly will the candidate be working?
Why does your company need someone with the candidate’s experience and qualifications?
What are the requirements for the job regarding education, licensure, and experience?
What is the anticipated length of stay required to complete the job being offered? (maximum three years)
How many hours per week will the candidate be expected to work?
What salary and benefits are being offered to the candidate in connection with the job?
For engineers, NAFTA requires the employment candidate to possess a Bachelor’s or Licenciatura degree, or to possess a state license as an engineer. Other categories of employment may have different minimum requirements.
How long are TN Visas Good For?
It is important to note that the employment is for a fixed period of time with the maximum amount of time being three years. If at the end of the time period the company wants to retain the employee for additional time, the TN visa can be renewed for another three years. There is no limit to the number of times a TN visa can be renewed. TD visas, for TN visa dependents (spouses or children under 21 years of age) can be renewed jointly with the TN visa and also for an unlimited number of times, thus allowing your potential employee to be with his or her family throughout the employment period, however long that may be. TD visa holders are not allowed to work, but are allowed to study. A TD visa holder that meets requirements may be able to apply for work in the United States and obtain their own TN visa, thus becoming eligible to work. Once your letter is received by the Mexican citizen who you want to hire, he or she would apply for a TN visa at the nearest US embassy or consulate abroad, most likely in Mexico. The candidate will need a copy of the support letter and proof that he or she meets the requirements set forth in the letter and the requirements of the TN visa. TN dependents will need proof of their relationship, either spouse or child, to the TN visa candidate. Other basic documents may be required for the visa interview.
How much does the process cost?
Government fees for an initial TN visa are minimal – $160 for the application. Renewals can be done through the employer filing an I-129 ($325 government fee) without the need for the employee to leave the country. If desired, the employee may leave the country and refile a DS-160 with the $160 fee. Fees are subject to change. If your company is using an immigration attorney to assist with the TN visa process, documentation and information would need to be provided, which may include some of the following:
General information including name of the company, address, telephone, website, email address, type of business, number of years in business
Name of parent company, partners, affiliates and/or subsidiaries, if any
IRS tax number
Copies of business tax returns for the last three years and/or financial statements
Number of employees
Business documents (i.e. articles of incorporation, articles of organization, etc.) depending on the type of business
It is important to note that a TN is a temporary visa where the visa recipient has the intent to work in the US but not to remain permanently in the US. During the interview at the embassy or consulate, and again at the border when attempting to enter with the TN visa, the employee needs to understand this fact and explain to the official that their purpose of entry is for work only. If you have questions about this aspect of the TN visa, feel free to contact our office.