International Student Broadcast: Working in the United States|
Following up on last week’s overarching discussion of job prospecting for international students, and H-1Bs, I wanted to touch upon a unique visa status – the TN (Trade NAFTA). This particular status is exclusive to the citizens of Canada and Mexico. The TN status allows for work within North American countries for certain professional occupations, and it may be renewed indefinitely in three-year increments.
The application is fairly streamlined for this particular non-immigrant status. In order to apply, the applicant must already have a job offer and bring proof of this offer along with other documentation (e.g. proof of citizenship, and evidence of former employment/university degree) to the border, where adjudication takes place. If TN status is granted, the applicant may cross the border and begin TN employment. If the application is refused, the immigration officer will offer reasons as to why the application was not accepted should the applicant wish to re-apply. It’s important to note that Mexican citizens must also obtain a US TN-2 visa at a US consulate prior to applying at the border.
The positive aspects of the TN status are clear: it’s not subject to quotas (unlike its H-1B counterpart), it’s far more cost-efficient ($50 application fee plus $5 land/sea crossing fee), and, in theory, it can be renewed indefinitely every three years. The TN status option is both low-cost and low-risk for employers and foreign citizens.
With that said, there are definitely points about TN status to consider and be wary of. While the TN status can be renewed indefinitely, it is also subject to revocation or refusal of renewal at any time when crossing the border and re-entering the United States. Also, the TN status isn’t recognized as being “dual intent,” meaning that a person has to transition to either an H-1B or avoid trying to renew their TN status when a green card application has been formally filed. Finally, the TN status only extends to certain occupations, mostly revolving around science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, trade skills, or academics.
For more information and the list of the occupations covered by TN status, see Brian Zuccaro’s blog “TN Visa Bulletin.”