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Exchange Visitor Visas (J-1)
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"TN" Work Visas For Canadian and Mexican Nationals
The “TN”, or “Trade NAFTA”, non-immigrant visa category was created by the North American Free-Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) in 1994. NAFTA covers citizens, not landed immigrants or permanent residents, of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. A TN professional may be admitted into the United States for a period of time not exceeding three years; but this stay can be extended indefinitely in yearly increments.
IMPORTANT: The "TN" visa category has many benefits not available under the H-1 program (see "Benefits" section below). However, the main benefit to a company is the fact that the TN cannot exceed the number of visas available since there is an unlimited number of TN visas available. As such, the TN visa category is a valuable resource for employers who cannot hire H-1B workers because the H-1B caps have been reached.
However, in examining the usefulness of the TN process, an employer must realize that the range of jobs available to be sponsored under the TN process is limited. Before anything else, an employer or potential employee must determine whether a TN visa is available for the position in question (see "TN Occupations" section).
In order to qualify for a TN visa, the position for which a Canadian or Mexican citizen is being sponsored must be one listed under NAFTA, and the Canadian or Mexican citizen must possess the credentials specified under NAFTA as necessary to qualify for the position. This is usually a bachelor's degree. However, some positions allow for experience in addition to education (see "TN Occupations" section).
The "TN" Application Process
Following is a list of occupations for which a Canadian or Mexican citizen can obtain a TN visa. Also included are the credentials needed to qualify for each occupation.
Medical/Allied Professional Occupations
The spouse and unmarried minor children of a TN applicant may be admitted as TD non-immigrants. If the spouse and children accompany the TN applicant and apply for a visa at the border, then no separate filing fee is required. If, however, the spouse and children enter the United States after the TN has already been admitted, or are filing from within the United States, a separate filing must be made either at the border or with the USCIS to obtain TD status.
Family members of the TN applicant are not authorized to work in the United States unless they have an independent basis for employment authorization. However, the family members may attend school.
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