Certain Canadian and Mexican citizens have the option to work in the United States using the TN visa. We answer common questions from applicants about the TN visa process.
TN Visa Common Questions
Can we go to the United States on a visitor visa and apply for TN within the U.S.?
In practice, yes. However, it is technically impermissible under U.S. immigration law for temporary visitors to be already planning to change status to something else at the time of entry, so it can be inadvisable. All TN applications are processed in Vermont (USCIS) regardless of where you mail it from.
I’m an IT Contractor with a Canadian corporation with U.S.-based clients. Can I essentially sponsor myself for a TN visa or possibly an L1A visa if I wanted to expand or move my business to the U.S.?
The TN category requires you to have an employer. You cannot have a controlling interest in the sponsoring company for the TN category. For the L-1A, you can proceed if you have ownership interest in the sponsoring company, but need to provide additional evidence that the placement is temporary.
What are the outcomes when you are denied by USCIS? Are you not allowed to enter the U.S. ever?
It depends on the reason for the denial. If you are denied because of a finding of fraud, then that will limit your ability to file applications or visit the U.S. going forward. If you are denied because Immigration did not think your position matches the TN category, then you may make future applications and visit the U.S. You will receive higher scrutiny if you apply again for the TN category. However, with strong case facts and correct guidance, this can be overcome.
Is it a good idea to send documents in advance to the border prior to appointment day?
For most entry points, you are not able to provide documents ahead of time. For most ports of entry you would bring the documents with you when you make the application. However, Buffalo, New York now requires an appointment and the documents to be uploaded before you apply. You can check the requirements for your desired port of entry at: Locate a Port of Entry | U.S. Customs and Border Protection (cbp.gov). Please also see our guide on making the TN application at the border.
Can I apply for a green card as a spouse of a green card holder while on TN status? Can I travel outside of the U.S. for work while my green card application is pending?
Yes and no (to both). You can apply for a green card and, for all practical purposes, maintain your TN status for the remainder of its duration, but you will not be eligible for an extension as the TN is not a dual-intent visa, meaning you are only eligible remain in TN status for as long as you can demonstrate that you do not intend to immigrate to the U.S. permanently. The filing of a green card is usually considered to be definitive proof of immigrant intent, thereby rendering your TN invalid.
You will not be able to travel for work as a TN after the filing of your green card application. Should you leave the U.S. as a TN while your green card application is pending, your green card application will be considered abandoned. If you were to leave the U.S. as a green card (adjustment of status) applicant with travel authorization (advanced parole), you will be readmitted to the U.S. as an adjustment applicant, not as a TN, meaning you will lose your TN status.
I am on a TN visa and my husband is a U.S. citizen. I would like to know the process of obtaining a green card via marriage.
You should not apply for a green card within 90 days of entering the U.S. on a TN visa. With a lawful entry, and marriage to a United States citizen, you would be able to apply for a green card based on your marriage to your U.S. citizen spouse.
Generally speaking, to be eligible for adjustment of status (applying for a green card from within the U.S.), you must:
1) Have a lawful entry (with a few exceptions)
2) You must be eligible to receive an immigrant visa (meaning you have a qualifying relationship/relative)
3) An immigrant visa must be immediately available (immigrant visas are always available to spouses of United States citizens) AND
4) You must be admissible to the U.S. (meaning, you do not have any factors that would make you ineligible to receive a green card).