Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
Advantages and Disadvantages of a TN Visa
One of the main advantages of TN visa status is that you can obtain it quickly, particularly if you are Canadian. Since no petition is required for Canadians, and the visa may be obtained directly at the border, there is no long wait for immigration status to be approved.
Currently, there is no limit on the number of times TN status can be renewed, unlike the maximum length of stay imposed on the H-1B and L-1 visa categories. However, TN status is granted for only one year at a time, while H-1B and L-1 visa holders are valid for three year periods. There is no restriction on the number of Canadians who can enter in the TN category. The law limits the number of TN visas for Mexicans to 5,500 Mexicans each year.
The major advantage of TN status over H-1B status is that TN status may be obtained at the border, and do not require a petition to the Immigration Service (for Canadians). This advantage does not apply to Mexican citizens, as Mexicans are required to file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor and a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. In addition, TN status can theoretically be renewed indefinitely while H-1B status has a limit of 6 years. TN status is available to some who do not qualify for H-1B status, including those in certain professions that do not require a bachelor’s degree.
On the other hand, if your profession is not listed in the TN occupation list, or you do not meet the requirements specified, you may be able to qualify for an H-1B visa. TN visa status also does not allow you to use professional experience to show that you have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, as you can with the H-1B program.
If you are going to work in the United States for a company affiliated with your Canadian and Mexican employer, you may want to consider the L-1 visa status. Canadians may apply for the L-1 visa at the border, just as with the TN visa. L-1 visa status is valid for up to three years at a time, rather than the one year period with the TN visa. Canadian landed immigrants may be eligible for the L-1 visa, not just citizens. The L-1 visa category allows for “dual-intent,” thereby making permanent residency much easier. Managers and executives in L-1 may be able to apply for permanent residency without filing labor certification, thereby speeding the process considerably.