Immigration Law Associates
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A Viable Alternative to H-1B Visa for Certain Mexican Professionals

TN nonimmigrant status visa immigration attorney lawyer Chicago Mexico Canada temporary business Mexican citizens Mexicanos workWhen foreign nationals think about seeking temporary employment in the United States, an H-1B visa is usually the first option that comes to mind. Indeed, for many years the H-1B was the "go-to" visa for many employers interested in hiring foreign nationals. Unfortunately, in the past couple of years, the number of applicants for this visa classification has been so high that the limited supply of 85,000 visas per year has not been sufficient to meet the demand, forcing a random lottery. And each year, thousands of applicants and employers are disappointed to learn that their petition has not been selected in the lottery.

While for many professionals the H-1B is the only non-immigrant visa option available, this is not necessarily true for Mexican and Canadian nationals. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Mexico and Canada, including the creation of special work visas.

The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Mexico and Canada, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers. There is no yearly quota.

What are the requirements to apply for a TN visa?
In this article we will focus on the requirements for Mexican nationals. The applicant must:

  1. Be a Mexican citizen. Permanent residents are not covered.
  2. Prove that he/she does not have immigrant intent at the time of application for TN visa. This is an important difference from the H-1B which allows dual intent (non-immigrant and immigrant intent).
  3. Be engaged in a profession that is included on the NAFTA list. Not all professions qualify.
  4. Be coming to fill an open position in the United States that requires a specific NAFTA professional.
  5. Have a job offer. The TN applicant must work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for an employer. The employer can be a U.S. company or a foreign company. Unfortunately, self-employment is not permitted.
  6. Meet the education and/or experience requirements of the profession. Having a bachelor's degree is not enough. The applicant must have the specific education, credentials and/or experience (if applicable) required for the offered position. For example, the TN position of Industrial Designer requires a BS in Design.

What is the process to apply for a TN visa – Mexico?
Unlike Canadian citizens, Mexican citizens need to apply for a visa at their consulate. The process to apply for this visa involves several steps. However, the process is neither as long as the H-1B petition process, nor as complicated. Nevertheless, there are certain steps that must be followed carefully in order to avoid delays or even a denial.
Below is an overview of the application process:

  1. File the online non-immigrant visa application. To do so you will need:
    1. Information about the employer
    2. Information about the prospective employee
    3. Information about the offered position
  2. Pay the non-immigrant interview appointment fee (as of today, $160)
  3. Schedule the non-immigrant visa interview appointment
  4. Attend the interview:
    1. During the interview you will need to provide the officer with all of the information that he/she needs to assess whether you qualify for the TN visa. Among the documents you will need to present are:
      1. Non-immigrant application submission confirmation page
      2. Proof of visa fee payment
      3. Passport sized pictures
      4. Appointment letter
      5. Proof of citizenship
      6. Proof of ties to Mexico
      7. Proof of education and experience
      8. Employment letter/employment job offer – carefully and correctly drafted by the employer or the employer's legal representative with supportive documentation

Perhaps the most challenging steps in the profess are items vi and vii above. You need to have a clear understanding of the TN visa requirements and procedure. It is highly advisable that you seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with the TN visa application process.

What is the validity date of a TN visa?
While for Canadians the TN status is issued for 3 years, the U.S. embassies/consulates in Mexico issue TN visas for one (1) year only. This is regardless of whether the prospective employer stated that it needed the employee for 1 or 3 years. The visa will be issued for multiple entries.

Can a TN visa be renewed?
Yes, prior to the expiration of your current TN visa, you may apply for renewal. However, be aware that the steps to apply for renewal mirror those of an initial application. Moreover, the initial approval is not a guarantee that the renewal application will be approved. Therefore, the renewal process should not be taken lightly.

How many times can a TN visa be renewed?
In theory, a TN visa can be renewed indefinitely. However, a TN visa is a non-immigrant visa and the burden to prove the non-immigrant intent is on the applicant.

Can I bring my spouse and children with me?
Yes, they would need to apply for a TD visa.


Who is Eligible for TN Nonimmigrant Status?

What are the Requirements for Canadian Citizens?

What are the Requirements for Mexican Citizens?

What are the Professions Recognized Under NAFTA?

Why Consider the Management Consultant TN Category?

What is the Period of Stay?

How Can Status Be Extended?

How Many Times can a Mexican or Canadian Citizen Apply for TN status?

Can the TN Applicant's Family Accompany Him to the U.S.?

How Can an Applicant Apply for TN Status if Already in the U.S.?

H-1B v. TN - Weighing The Options

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