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TN Visa FAQ: Everything You Need to Know Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of our TN visa series! In case you missed it, the first article provided an overview of the TN visa and set the foundation for a deeper dive into specific questions. By the end of this article, you will have a more comprehensive understanding of TN visas and practical knowledge that can be applied to your own case.

What is the difference between a TN visa stamp and TN status?

The TN visa stamp is the document affixed to a page in the foreign citizens’ passport that serves as a “ticket” permitting the foreign citizen to apply for admission to the U.S. This provides nonimmigrants the ability to travel in and out of the U.S.

TN status refers to the classification in which the nonimmigrant entered the US and the length of time they are permitted to stay in the U.S.

Canadian citizens generally do not need a TN visa stamp to apply for admission to the U.S. while Mexican citizens do. Mexican citizens will therefore receive a TN visa stamp. Both Mexican and Canadian citizens found to be admissible at the POE will be issued a Form I-94 that provides the I-94 number, most recent date of entry, class of admission (TN), and the authorized period of stay. This I-94 serves as evidence of lawful nonimmigrant status.

How long are TN visas approved for? How long can TN visa holders stay in the U.S.?

TN visa status can be approved for a maximum period of 3 years and can be subsequently renewed in 3 year increments. There is no limit as to how many times the TN can be renewed.

Mexican citizens may be issued TN visa stamps in 1-year increments but they should be admitted into the U.S. for up to 3 years as reflected on their I-94 record. As of June 2022, Mexican citizens now have 2 TN visa stamp validity period options. Mexican citizens can continue to request the current 1-year TN visa stamp validity period by paying a visa reciprocity fee of $104 or they may request a 4-year TN visa stamp validity period by paying a visa reciprocity fee of $382.

Remember, the visa stamp validity period refers to the amount of time a foreign citizen may use their visa stamp to seek entry into the U.S. The amount of time a TN visa worker may reside in the US is governed by the I-94 record.

Is there a numerical limitation on TN visas?

There is no numerical limitation on the number of TN visas that may be issued annually. This is one advantage the TN visa has over the H-1B visa, which is subject to the annual cap.

Can TN visa holders work part-time?

Yes, TN visa holders can work part-time or full-time as long as they are working in a qualify position.

Can TN visa holders attend school?

Yes, a TN visa holder may attend school as long as it incidental to their employment in the US. School must not be the primary purpose for remaining in the U.S.

 Can spouses and children accompany TN visa workers?

TN visa worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany or subsequently join the TN visa worker in the U.S. under TD visa status. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Canada or Mexico to be eligible for TD status. Like the TN visa holder, the family members will be issued an I-94 record governing their period of stay. The family members should be granted TD status for the same period of time granted to the principal TN visa holder.

Although TD visa holders are not permitted to work while in the U.S., they are allowed to study.

How do you apply for TD status?

The application process for TD visas differs depending on the citizenship of the spouse and children.

If the spouse and children are Canadian citizens, they can apply for TD status directly at the POE. They can apply concurrently with the TN visa holder or can apply separately after the TN visa holder has already obtained their TN status. They should bring their valid, unexpired passports for each family member; marriage certificate; birth certificates; copy of the TN visa worker’s valid I-94 record, and a recent employment verification letter for the TN visa holder.

If the spouse and children are Mexican citizens, they must apply for the TD visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before entering the U.S. They can apply concurrently with the TN visa holder or can apply separately after the TN visa holder has already obtained their TN status. Mexican citizens must first complete the DS-160 form online and pay the applicable fees before scheduling their visa appointment at a U.S. consulate. Applicants must bring the DS-160 confirmation page, current passport/proof of Mexican citizenship, visa fee payment receipt, marriage certificate, birth certificates, copy of the TN visa worker’s valid I-94 record, and a recent employment verification letter for the TN visa holder.

If the spouse and children are not citizens of Canada or Mexico, applicants will need to check with the U.S. Department of State to determine whether a visa is required.

Can you change jobs while on a TN visa?

Yes, TN visa holders have two options to change employers. They can file an I-129 petition by mail or can depart the U.S. and request a new TN in the same manner as they obtained their initial TN visa status. TN visa holders cannot begin employment with a new employer until their petition has been approved. This differs from the H-1B visa portability provision allowing individuals to work with the new employer upon filing the I-129 petition.

TN visa holders must continue to meet the eligibility requirements with any new employer.

How do you renew a TN visa?

TN visa holders can file an I-129 extension petition by mail or can depart the U.S. and request a new TN in the same manner as they obtained their initial TN visa status.

Can pets accompany a TN visa holder to the U.S.?

Yes, TN visa holders can bring their pets into the U.S. while on a TN visa provided they meet certain requirements, such as health certificates and proof of rabies vaccinations. Currently the CDC regulates the entry of dogs, cats, turtles, snakes, lizards, monkeys, civets, African rodents and bats. While the CDC does not regulate the entry of fish, horses, small mammals and non-African rodents, there may be specific requirements imposed by the Department of Agriculture or the USDA. For more information concerning how to bring a pet into the U.S., please refer to the CDC website.

Can TN visa holders apply for a green card while on a TN visa?

Yes, TN visa holders can apply for a green card. Although the TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa and dual intent is not permitted, a TN visa holder can apply for their I-140 once they are in the U.S. TN visa holders should be aware of the implications filing the I-140 can have on their future visa status. For example, TN visa holders should not travel once the I-140 petition or any other immigrant petition has been filed on their behalf. They should also file the I-140 petition early in the TN visa validity period since it could cause issues when filing for an extension.

What happens if the TN visa application is denied?

If the TN visa has been denied, candidates may be able to reapply or appeal the decision. Depending on the reasons behind the denial and where the denial occurred (consulate or if USCIS made the determination), there may be options to make corrections and reapply. For example, if a TN visa is denied due to a finding of fraud that will limit the candidate’s ability to file a future TN visa application. If a candidate is denied because the consulate did not think the position matched the TN category, the candidate can revise their application and may reapply again.

What are some common reasons for a TN visa denial?

An individual may be denied TN visa status either on the merits of their petition or because they are subject to one of the various grounds of inadmissibility. For example, a TN visa may be denied if there was insufficient supporting documentation, an individual applied under the wrong USMCA category, the individual does not qualify for the TN visa, the employer support letter did not meet the USMCA requirements, CBP determines the candidate has immigrant intent, or if the candidate meets one of the grounds of inadmissibility. Individuals may be considered inadmissible to the U.S. based on health related issues, criminal issues, security issues, etc. In some instances, an individual may be able to obtain a waiver to enter under TN visa status despite being subject to a ground of inadmissibility.

Do TN visas qualify for the 60 day grace period?

Yes, regulations permit a discretionary grace period that allows TN visa workers (and their dependents) to be considered as having maintained status following the cessation of employment for up to 60 consecutive calendar days or until the end of the authorized validity period, whichever is shorter. During this period, TN visa holders can apply for a new TN visa, file for a change of status, or prepare to leave the country.

For more information concerning TN visas and how to navigate this process, please contact one of our qualified immigration attorneys.

Reddy Neumann Brown PC has been serving the business community for over 20 years and is Houston’s largest immigration law firms focused solely on U.S. employment-based immigration. We work with both employers and their employees, helping them navigate the immigration process quickly and cost-effectively.

By: Ashley Thomas

Ashley Thomas is an Senior Associate Attorney at Reddy Neumann Brown PC who focuses on employment-based non-immigrant visas. Ashley’s practice covers all phases of the visa process including filing petitions, responding to Requests for Evidence (RFE), and drafting motions and appeals. She has completed over 200 RFE’s to date in response to H-1B, L-1, I-140, and OPT petitions.