TN Application Visa Process for Working in U.S., Canada and Mexico
The TN Visa Application can be a very quick way to start working in the United States, Canada or Mexico – but you must make sure it applies to you. This article will help you get started with your application and answer most of your questions so you can quickly start working with a TN Visa.
You may also be interested in a detailed article about TN Visa
What is the TN Visa application?
Table of Contents
The TN Visa Application is a part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and you must be either be an American citizen, Canadian citizen or a Mexican citizen to apply. You can only submit your application if you have a job offer to work in the United States, Canada or Mexico and the employer must be business in one of these countries.
The TN Visa application is not difficult and if you follow our step by step instructions you can do it yourself and obtain your TN visa successfully.
Prior to Your TN Visa application
Before you apply for your visa there are several things you must do to ensure you will successfully obtain your TN Visa.
The two things you must do before you start your application is:
- Make sure you qualify for the TN Visa
- Make sure you know which NAFTA Occupation you are applying under. You can see the NAFTA Job List here.
Once you have completed these two things, follow the checklist below to gather all your documents for your application.
Checklist For Your TN Visa Application
As you prepare your application you will want to make sure you have all your documents in order when you stand in front of the Immigration Officer.
It is very nerve racking standing at a land border crossing or at the airport (when your flight is going to be departing soon) and the Officer is reviewing your documents, asking you questions or asking for additional documents.
It is important you have everything he will ask for so you are not sent back and asked to come back with the additional documents. Here are the essential documents you will require for your application:
- Proof of citizenship
- Your TN Visa Application Letter (or Employer Letter)
- Proof you meet the requirements for the NAFTA Occupation you are applying under
- Filing fee
Depending on your education, job history and the occupation you are applying for you may need additional documents. The TN Visa Kit provides you a complete list of possible supporting documents you may need based on your situation.
How To Apply For Your TN Visa Application
The essence of the application is the same, but depending on the following situations you will need to modify your application:
- Canadians applying at a US border crossing
- Canadians applying by mail to USCIS office
- Mexicans applying at a US border crossing
- Americans applying to work in Canada
A Quick Clarification in terminology: Canadians do not need a visa to enter the USA, consequently you are applying for a TN Status. We use the term TN Visa or TN1 Visa since this the common term being used. Technically, you are requesting a TN Status.
Scenario: Canadian Citizen applying at US border crossing
As a Canadian citizen, you are able to apply for the TN Visa at various border points. This can be:
Class A Port of Entry (land or sea) This is usually most major land border crossings between the US and Canada border or land border crossings between Mexico and the US.
1. Land Border Crossing
A Canadian / U.S. land border crossing. There are many border crossings and not all of them process TN Visas, so plan ahead. Check with the border crossing to see if you can apply for the TN Visa. The TN Visa Expert Kit has a list of all the valid border crossings where you can apply with your TN Visa Application.
TN VISA EXPERT TIP
(Found in the TN Visa Kit)
A little known fact that we tell our customers and now you will know, is a Canadian working in California, can drive down to the San Diego / Tijuana border crossing (officially the San Ysidro crossing) and can renew their TN Visa without returning to Canada.
These are the great types of tips you will receive when you download the TN Visa Expert Kit.
2. Pre-clearance Center (or Pre-flight station)
A U.S. Pre-clearance center is usually found at a Canadian international airport. If you have flown out of a major Canadian city, you may go through US Customs and Immigration after the ticketing desk and before you go to your gate. This area is considered “US soil” and you will submit your TN Visa Application to the US Immigration Officer on duty.
Remember to arrive early to provide sufficient time for the Officer to review your application. We normally recommend arriving at 3 to 4 hours before your flight.
TN VISA EXPERT TIP
(Found in the TN Visa Kit)
If you have the first flight in the morning, the Pre-clearance center may not be open this early, so book a flight later in the morning or afternoon if you can rather than the first flight of the day.
3. U.S. International Airport
If the airport you departed for doesn’t have a pre-clearance center, then you will do your customs and immigration when you arrive at a U.S. International Airport. At this time, you will present your TN request and submit your application.
We suggest you attempt to avoid this situation for your first application, because if you are denied, you will not be allowed entry and you will need to purchase a flight back home. This is a very stressful situation to be in, so be careful.
Scenario: Canadian Citizen applying by Mail to USCIS office
Initially, Canadian citizens could only apply by mail to USCIS if they already had an existing TN Visa, resided in the US and were renewing their TN Visa for the same position.
As of October 2012, Canadian citizens can apply by mail from outside the US for their initial TN Visa. This consists of filing a Form I-129 form, the Free Trade Supplement and the above mentioned supporting documents.
You can mail your application to the Vermont Service Center. Obtain the I-129 address details.
Do not make the mistake thinking you only need to file the Form I-129. You will need to still submit the TN Visa Application letter and all the supporting documents similar to if you were applying at a Port of Entry.
Some applicants believe this is easier, but do not be fooled. It may be convenient, but when you cross the border via land or at an airport an Immigration Officer will still interview you and can deny you entry even if you possess and approved application that you mailed in. So be prepared for the border interview.
There is also a filing fee for the Form I-129 which is in US dollars and must be paid when you mail your application. You can find the details for applying by mail at the USCIS Form I-129 web page.
Scenario: Mexican Citizen applying to Work in the US
The biggest difference between a Mexican citizen and a Canadian citizen applying for the TN Visa is the Mexican citizen needs to do these additional steps when apply for a TN Visa stamp prior to leaving Mexico:
- File your application at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico
- Complete the DS-160 application
- Schedule an appointment and be interviewed
- Pay the interview fee
This should be planned for and can take some time. Because of the extra time, sometimes a US employer is not willing to wait or is surprised that they cannot have you start immediately.
The best thing to do, is set your employer’s expectation that there will be a delay – but you will attempt to obtain the TN Visa as quickly as possible and you will provide them regular status updates. This helps them know you are actively moving forward and you will be joining the team soon.
You should be prepared for the following when attempting to obtain your TN Visa in Mexico:
- There is a fee for obtaining this visa from the US Consulate.
- You will need to wait for an available appointment time at the consulate to submit your TN Visa application.
- You will need to will additional time after your interview while the Consulate adjudicates (reviews and approves) your application.
- If you do not live near a US Consulate, be prepared to travel to the nearest Consulate. Plan to arrive a day early and leave the following day to deal with any delays, etc.
We explain the exact steps you need to take in the TN Visa Kit – Platinum Edition as a Mexican for your application.
Once you download the Kit and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
Scenario: US Citizen applying to Work in Canada
Applying to work in Canada requires a little bit of extra work for American and Mexican citizens, don’t worry the TN Visa Kit will explain the differences and guide your through the application process.
Normally, Canada requires employers to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for foreign workers but under NAFTA this is waived for Americans and Mexicans. This allows you to apply at the Port of Entry so your application process is very easy and quick.
As with the other scenarios mentioned above, US and Mexican citizens who wish to work in Canada must also complete the essential TN Visa Application documents listed in the beginning of this article as well as the additional supporting documents if their situation requires it.
To assist you in this scenario, we have created special TN Visa sample application letters for applying to Canada. You can find these in the TN Visa Expert Kit – Platinum Edition. Download it now and get started.
What is the Best Time to Apply With Your TN Visa Application
When you do decide to apply a good rule of thumb is to apply up to 2 weeks in advance of your employment start date.
The Officer sees this as a reasonable time to get settled in prior to starting work. There is no regulation about this, so you may be able to go earlier and still be approved. Just know that you could be asked to return later.
Know the Difference Between the Application Letter, the Employer Letter and Your Employment Contract
At TN Visa Expert, we believe it is very important to make sure you understand the difference between these documents. We have applicants who are confused about this, they submit the wrong document to the Immigration Officer as part of their application and get denied.
When they come to us and read the information in the TN Visa Kit, they realize their mistake and why they were denied. So be extra careful, know the difference and submit the correct document.
Here is what you want to know about these three documents:
The TN Visa application letter and the Employer letter is the same thing. Both names are used to mean the same thing. This can be prepared by you or your employer. You can read more about preparing this in the TN Visa Kit – Platinum Edition. We provide you step by step instructions so you and your employer know exactly what to put in the letter to meet the Immigration Officer’s concerns.
A common reason for denial is when you submit your Employment contract with your application. The employment contract is NOT the same as the Application letter. This is so important to understand that we will repeat is again:
AVOID THIS MISTAKE
Do not submit your Employment Contract thinking it is your Application letter! You will most likely run into problems.
The employment contract usually has very little information the Immigration Officer needs to verify if you or the job qualifies. Rather it sometimes has information that raises his suspicions and can cause you problems and possibly get denied.
We know the Immigration Officer has a checklist to verify if you meet the TN Visa Requirements. The TN Visa Kit provides you the information you need to meet the Officer’s checklist. We are so confident, that if you get denied when you use the TN Visa Kit, we will refund your money!
Do I Need A Lawyer to Prepare My TN Visa Application?
USCIS does not require you to have a lawyer to submit immigration applications and forms. In most instances you do not need a lawyer for your TN Visa application. We base this answer on the fact that USCIS does not require you to have a lawyer and our customers have a 99.8% success rate using the TN Visa Application Kit – Platinum Edition.
Option 1: Full Legal Support
You should consider using a lawyer if you:
- If you want someone to prepare your application for you and you want to speak to them over the phone to answer your questions.
- If your situation is complicated and you are very worried about doing it yourself.
- If you have the money to hire a lawyer. Most good lawyers will charge about $2500.
Option 2: Partial Legal Support
Each applicant is different. You have many options to create your application. You just need to decide how much support you need.
For example, many people are willing to do the application themselves but need their questions answered and would like to have their application verified to ensure it is prepared correctly.
In this case, we have created a way for you to get the support you need and not spend a lot of money. you can do the following:
- Setup a 20 minute phone consultation with a lawyer to determine if you qualify and what NAFTA Occupation to apply under.
- Complete your TN Visa Application using the TN Visa Kit – Platinum Edition.
- Setup a Lawyer Application Review consultation.
Here a lawyer will review your application, provide feedback on how to strengthen your application (if necessary) and have a phone call to prepare you for the border interview as well as answer any additional questions you may have.
The cost of obtaining this additional lawyer support is $518.
This breaks down as follows:
- $95 for the qualification phone consultation.
- $124 for the TN Visa Application Kit
- and $299 for the final Lawyer review.
Best Option 3: TN Visa Kit
The TN Visa Kit option provides you all the information you require to complete your TN Visa Application.
- Step By Step instructions to create your application.
- Custom Sample letter for you NAFTA Occupation.
- Border Preparation and sample interview questions.
The cost of this option is $149. Currently there is a special for $124.
Our goal is to save you money and give you the support you need so you feel safe and comfortable to apply. From the 3 steps above you can choose which ones you want depending on the support you feel you need to complete your TN Visa Application.
Very Important Reminder About Your Application
If you prepare your application correctly, this does not mean you will receive your visa, you still have an informal border interview that will take place with an Immigration Officer when you cross a land border or at the airport.
To be prepared for this border interview, make sure you read the special Border Preparation Chapter in the TN Visa Kit – Platinum Edition.
If after reading this, you still have questions do not hesitate to click here to send us your question