TN Visa for Canadians – FAQ

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TN Visa for Canadians – FAQ

How long is the TN visa good for?

The TN visa can now be obtained for a maximum period of 3 years upon each application. Sometimes this period of time is limited to less than 3 years if it is clear from the application that the applicant’s services are needed for less time.

Do I qualify for a TN Visa?

While it’s much easier to answer this for sure after speaking with you personally, there are a few general requirements that must be met. First of all, there MUST be a job offer in place from a United States employer. Secondly, you must fit into one of the TN visa professions and meet the minimum requirements for the profession. Before coming to any conclusions, it is highly advised for you to review the matter with an experienced TN visa lawyer.

How do I apply for a TN?

You can apply for a TN at a port-of-entry, such as a land border, pre-flight clearance, or at an airport in the United States after arriving from an international flight. On October 1, 2012, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) began accepting TN visa applications on behalf of Canadians situated outside of the United States by mail at the Vermont Service Center (VSC). Applying through the VSC requires an additional fee and is more time-consuming than applying at a port-of-entry, but it does offer applicants and United States employers some benefits and added flexibility

If I want to apply at a port-of-entry, is there a particular port-of-entry I should go through?

Ports-of-entry are all unique and sometimes have their own “protocol” on many different matters. Some are more or less preferred than others for different reasons. Port-of-entry selection is part of any TN visa strategy. It’s also important to note that as of October 2012, as discussed above, a Canadian situated outside of the United States can also apply for a TN by mailing an application to USCIS.

What are some of the benefits related to the recently added mail application option?

Some of the benefits related to the mail application option are as follows:

  • Pre-Approval: The mail application allows for pre-approval; up to 6 months in advance. This allows for advanced planning by both the employer and Canadian beneficiary.
  • Inconsistent port-of-entry decisions: Ports-of-entry tend to vary in how they adjudicate TN petitions and, unfortunately, in how they train their officers. The mail application allows a TN beneficiary to avoid applying at a port of entry with inconsistent adjudications.
  • Challenging applications: Some TN petitions are more challenging than others, particularly if they fall within a certain category, like management consultant or scientific technician. In some scenarios, applications in these categories may be adjudicated more smoothly at the VSC.
  • Interview/Confrontation Avoidance: Many dread the interview process associated with applying for a TN, which can sometimes turn out to be rather confrontational. Obtaining a pre-approved TN through the VSC can ease some of these concerns.
  • 2nd bite at the apple: The mail application could possibly be used as a backup option if a border application is unsuccessful. This should only be pursued under the right circumstances.
  • Appeal process: There really is no appeal process when applying at a port-of-entry, whereas a mail application does allow for an appeal process related to a negative decision.

What are some of the downsides to submitting a TN application by mail?

Some of the downsides to applying by mail are as follows:

  • Filing fees: The filing fees associated with a mail application are a minimum of $460, and increase by $1225 if premium processing is elected, whereas an application at a port-of-entry is no more than $56.
  • Adjudication time: A mail application filed via regular processing could take, approximately, 2-4 months. Of course, this can be expedited to 15 calendar days if premium processing is selected. The adjudication of a port-of-entry application, assuming everything goes smoothly, is no more than a few hours.
  • Inability to supplement your case immediately: When applying at a port-of-entry, you are meeting face-to-face with the adjudicating officer. If any info needs to be clarified or supplemented, you might be able to do it on the spot or come back the next day with the missing item/s. If something needs to be clarified or supplemented via a mail application, one has to wait to receive a formal Request for Evidence (“RFE”) in the mail and then respond. Oftentimes, the RFE is not exact and as a result, responding to it can be a time-consuming endeavor (furthermore you have to again wait for the officer to review the RFE response before a decision is made).

What type of info & documents do you need from me & my employer to prepare the application?

Generally speaking, the info required for the proper preparation of the TN visa application can be broken up into 3 parts: information and documents pertaining to the employer; information about the TN position; and information and documents pertaining to the foreign national. For an in-depth overview of what type of information and documents you should be prepared to provide for a TN mail application, which is typically more comprehensive than a border application, please see the following video:

What if I have been denied in the past?

Like the example provided above, if you have been denied in the past your situation is much more sensitive and risky. It is important in such a scenario that you work very closely with an experienced TN visa attorney to determine whether the risks involved in reapplying and whether or not it is possible to rehabilitate your application.

What are the filing fees for a Canadian NAFTA TN Visa?

If you are applying for a TN visa at the border the fee is a total of $56. If you are applying for the TN status by mailing an application to the Vermont Service Center (USCIS), the filing fee is $325. If you elect to file your application by mail and wish to expedite the process via premium processing, the additional filing fee for this service is $1,225.

What are the legal fees for TN Visa representation?

Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss our affordable fee structure with you. Rest easy, that Lightman Law Firm prides itself in offering the highest level of service at an affordable FLAT rate. You will never experience any pressure or obligation to work with us.

I don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Will I qualify for a TN?

Yes, you may qualify for a TN even though you do not have a bachelor’s degree. Many TN occupations do not require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. For an overview of TN occupations and their requirements, please review the following link: TN visa occupations.

How far in advance of my start date can I apply for a TN visa?

If you are applying directly at a port of entry, the answer to this question depends on the port of entry you’re applying through. Some ports of entry allow individuals to apply for TN visas in advance, while others do not. It is very important for you to be aware of the protocol of the particular ports you’re considering. If you are applying by mailing an application to the Vermont Service Center, you can apply up to 6 months in advance of the start date.

Is there a quota or lottery for the TN visa like there is for the H-1b visa?

No, the great thing about the TN visa is that there is no quota or lottery like there is for the H-1B visa.

Can I freelance on the TN visa or be “self-employed”?

No, you are not permitted to freelance or be self-employed on the TN visa. You must be working for the petitioning entity in the position as stated on your application. This is different than the analysis of whether or not you can work as an independent contractor.

Can I work as an independent contractor for a United States company?

Yes, you can work as an independent contractor for a United States company. While you cannot freelance or be self-employed in the United States, you can work as an independent contractor for a United States company in the TN status as long as you have an approved TN to work for that specific company. Employees generally received W-2 tax documents, whereas an independent contractor would receive a 1099.

What is the maximum period of time that I can be in the United States in the TN status?

The TN is now issued for periods of up to 3 years. Technically speaking, you can receive indefinite extensions of your TN status. However, in practice, we have seen that certain ports of entry and the Vermont Service Center tend to apply more scrutiny when you have been in the United States in the TN status for 6+ years.

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