Basic Requirements for Obtaining TN Classification

TN Classification Requirements:

indexBasic Requirements

To qualify for TN status, the intended U.S. activity must be in a profession and the alien must possess the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Appendix 1603.D.1 fields. The alien must actually perform professional-level activities in the United States. With regard to the alien’s qualifications, a bachelor’s or higher degree is usually required, unless Appendix 1603.D.1 lists alternative qualifications. Equivalency to a required degree through a combination of experience and education will not be accepted for TN purposes; aliens in this situation must apply for H-1 status.

Designated TN professions

The Canadian or Mexican professional qualifying for the TN category must be engaged in a profession included in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA. Among the most useful occupations in Appendix 1603.D.1 are accountants, engineers, registered nurses, architects, lawyers, university-level teachers and research assistants, hotel managers, librarians, systems analysts, and management consultants.

  • USCIS issues final rule adding actuaries and plant pathologists to list of TN professionals.
  • The minimum requirement for a plant pathologist would be a baccalaureate or licenciatura degree.
  • The final rule also removes a requirement under prior regulations that a Canadian present a license to be admitted as a TN non-immigrant in those situations in which a license is required to practice the profession in the locality in which services will be provided.

Qualifications of TN professional

To qualify for TN status the alien must possess the necessary credentials. When a bachelor’s or a licenciatura degree is required under Appendix 1603.D.1, a combination of education and experience equivalent to a bachelor’s degree will not be accepted. If the alien must rely on a combination of education and experience, H-1 status should be sought for the alien. Additional points related to specific professions are discussed below:

1.  Canadian Bachelors Degree

A Canadian three-year bachelor’s degree program satisfies the degree requirement the important element is the requisite degree and not the length of the course of study.

2.  Nurses

Canadian nurses may have a Canadian provincial license or a state license issued in the United States to qualify for TN status. In addition, the nurse must have a license in the state of intended employment suitable for commencement of employment.

3.  Scientific Technician/Technologist

A general offer of employment by a professional in one of the qualifying disciplines is not sufficient, by itself, to establish eligibility will be inter-related with that of the supervisory professional.

4.  Post-Secondary Diplomas and Certificates

For purposes of designation as a computer systems analyst, graphic designer, hotel manager, industrial designer, interior designer, medical technologist, or a technical publications writer, a postsecondary diploma means a credential issued, on completion of two or more years of post secondary education, by an accredited academic institution in Canada or the United States.

5.  Certification Requirement for Health Care Workers

IIRIRA renders inadmissible a foreign national seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of performing labor as a health care worker (other than a physician), unless the foreign national presents certification from a credentialing organization approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

6.  Licensure Requirement for Canadian and Mexican TNs

The USCIS issued a final rule removing a requirement under prior regulations that a Canadian present a licence to be admitted as a TN non-immigration in those situations in which a license is required to practice the profession in the locality in which services will be provided.

For more Information about TN Visa Category and Requirements, Please contact Wani & Associates P.C. for a free consultation. Call now at: (703) 490-1111

Basic Information about the TN Visa Category

General Requirements and Special Conditions of TN Visa Category:

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1.  General Requirements

In August 1992, the United States entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which provides for expedited admission of business persons from each country. The immigration related provisions of NAFTA cover four categories of business persons from Canada and Mexico seeking entry into the United States:

Professionals entering in the TN category can work for a U.S. entity in several situations:

  • Qualifying professionals who are employees of U.S. companies can work for those companies on a temporary basis and be paid by them in an identical manner to H- 1B professionals
  • Qualifying professionals who are self-employed can work for U.S. companies if a service contract exists between the self-employed professional and the U.S. companies providing for the rendering of professional services.
  • Qualifying professionals who are employees of Canadian or Mexican companies can work for U.S. companies.

2.  Duration of stay

An alien may be admitted to the United States in TN status for the period of time required by the employer, up to a maximum initial period of stay of one year. TN professionals can receive extensions of stay in one-year increments, with no outside limit on the total period of stay. The only limitation on the duration of stay of TN non-immigrants is that the purpose of the stay must continue to be temporary.

3.  Procedures for the TN category

Canadian professionals are designated as TN-1 non-immigrants as distinguished from the TC classification under the FTA. Mexican nationals seeking TN status must apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate. Under prior procedures, Mexican citizens were required to comply with a procedure that was nearly identical to that for H-1B classification for nationals of other countries. The employer was required to file a petition for TN status with the USCIS, and the petition was required to be supported by a labor condition application (LCA).

4.  Special Conditions

Non-immigrant intent and permanent residence papers:

Final TN rules issued by the Service and State Department clarify that TN classification may be conferred only to persons seeking temporary entry without the intent to establish permanent residence.

Limits on self-employment:

The admission of self-employed TN professionals has raised complex issues under NAFTA. The TN rules codify agency policy on self-employment by TN professionals. In earlier directives, the Service stated that a TN professional cannot establish a business or practice in the United States in which he or she will be self-employed.

Strike provisions of NAFTA:

Both Canadian and Mexican nationals seeking entry in TN status are subject to the “strike” provisions in NAFTA. The strike or work stoppage component of the treaty provides that if the Department of Labor certifies to the USCIS that the place of employment to which a Canadian or Mexican national is destined is the subject of a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage, and the inspecting officer believes that the temporary entry of the alien may affect adversely either the settlement of such labor dispute or the employment of a person involved in the dispute, then the applicant for admission may be refused or a TN petition may be denied.

Elimination of annual numerical cap on new Mexican TN admissions:

Originally, NAFTA established an annual numerical cap on Mexican TN admissions. Specifically, only 5,500 Mexican TN were to be admitted each year, though the TN foreign national’s family members in TD status were not counted against the limitation.

Family members of TN aliens:

The family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) of the principal alien are classified in the TD category. They cannot engage in employment unless they are independently qualified. Family members can undertake courses of study in the United States while remaining in TD status.

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Basic Information about the L Category

General Requirements and Special Conditions of L Visa Category:

1.  General Requirement

The L non-immigrant visa category is one of the most useful tools available to international companies needing to bring foreign employees to the United States. If a few basic requirements can be met, many advantages exist to using the L category. Note that under the 1990 Act, a new employment-based immigrant preference category was created for managers and executives who meet the L-1 standards for those employees. These aliens are considered “priority workers” in the first preference, which has 40,000 annual immigrant visas allotted to it.

images2.  Duration of stay

An alien may be admitted to the United States in L-1 status for the period of time required by the employer, up to a maximum initial period of stay of three years. The total period of stay may reach seven years for L-1A managers and executives, and five years for L-1B specialized knowledge personnel. In a change from the law existing before the 1990 Act, additional periods of stay beyond these limits cannot be granted based on a showing of extraordinary circumstances.

3.  Application process

  • The U.S. employer must file a petition with the Immigration Service in order to obtain permission to transfer a foreign national for a temporary period.
  • Once the petition is approved, the approved petition is sent to a U.S. consulate where the alien can obtain an L-1 visa to enter the United States.
  • If the alien is already in the United States in a different non-immigrant category, his or her status must be changed to the L-1 category.
  • Under past rules, the change was made by filing a separate application for change of status with the L-1 petition; under current rules, the change of status is incorporated in the L-I petition, and a separate application form is not required.

Blanket petitions: Note that the procedures are different for employers who have received approval of a blanket petition permitting them to issue certificates of eligibility directly to their transferring employees, who take them to a U.S. consulate for L-1 visa issuance.

4.  Special conditions

The “priority worker” immigration category for L-1 managers and executives:  

L employees who are in managerial or executive roles also have an advantageous route to permanent residence. Under changes made by the 1990 Act, a new employment-based immigrant preference category is created which includes managers and executives meeting L-1 standards. The first employment-based preference for “priority workers,” including L-1 level managers and executives, is allotted 40,000 annual immigrant visas. Aliens qualifying for immigration in this category are exempted from the usual labor certification requirement, thereby abbreviating the procedures and time required to obtain permanent residence.

Non-immigrant intent and permanent residence papers:  

Another advantage for L-1 aliens is that they do not need to show that they maintain a foreign residence during their U.S. stay and they may seek permanent residence and still obtain L-1 visas, petition approvals, and extensions of stay. The 1990 Act eliminated the requirement that L-1 aliens establish their non-immigrant intent and removed the filing of permanent residence papers as a relevant factor in determining whether L-1 aliens are legitimate non-immigrant.

Limits on stay and approval of new petitions:

An L-1 alien who has been present in the United States for the full period of stay-five years for specialized knowledge personnel or seven years for executives and managers is barred from reentering the United States in either H or L status until he or she has resided outside of the United States for a full year.

Family members of the L-1 non-immigrant

Family members of the L-1 non-immigrant are entitled to admission in the L-2 non-immigrant category. Included in this category is the spouse of the visa holder, as well as minor unmarried children under the age of 21. Once children attain the age of 21 or get married, they are no longer eligible to remain in the United States in L-2 status.

The family members of the principal alien, who are admitted with the alien, but classified in the L-2 category, can undertake courses of study in the U.S. while remaining in L-2 status. Until recently, family members could not engage in employment in the U.S. unless they were independently qualified, e.g., eligible for H-1B classification or another work-authorized category.

If you have any questions, our office in Wani & Associates will be happy to help you explain the J1 Visa program requirements. Please feel free to Contact Now: 1-866-755-9264 .