The TN visa was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in order to establish temporary employment opportunities in the United States for Mexican and Canadian citizens. Valid TN visa holders are allowed to enter to reside in the United States as they engage in authorized business activities under NAFTA regulations.

Currently, two types of TN visas are available. The TN-1 visa is issued to immigrants from Canada while the TN-2 visa is issued to immigrants from Mexico.

TN visas are valid for up to three years and then the visa holder must renew it to remain in the United States. It should also be noted that a TN visa holder’s business activities must remain under the regulations which granted them a TN visa, this means that a TN visa holder who either loses their job or finds other employment may lose their TN visa and with that they will have to file for a different form of immigration.

*Effective July 1, 2020, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Who is Eligible for a TN Visa?

The first and most important criteria for obtaining a TN visa: you must be a citizen of either Mexico or Canada. Most TN visa applicants are accepted by working in a highly valuable field, such as:

  • accounting
  • engineering
  • law
  • social work
  • science
  • education

Even if your profession is not publicly listed as eligible for a TN visa, it is worthwhile to speak with an immigration attorney to find out if your specific situation qualifies.

Also be aware that you may be required to have prearranged a full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (see details below for self-employment) and prove you actually have the qualifications required to work in the profession in question.

How to Renew a TN Visa

Once the three-year length of the visa has expired, TN visa holders must renew their visa or risk losing their right to legally live and work in the United States. To renew, a TN visa holder needs to prepare and submit form I-129 before their visa expires which can be done in person at a port of entry, or by mail.

Renewing a TN Visa At The Border

Renewing your TN visa in person is the quickest and cheapest option that you may do at an authorized port of entry, but to do this you will have to leave the United States and if you are at risk of having your renewal denied, you will not be allowed reentry into the United States.

This means that before leaving the U.S. you must ensure that you have all of the necessary paperwork and that your TN visa renewal application strongly shows that your employment satisfies TN requirements — that’s why consulting with an immigration attorney before attempting to renew by any means is highly recommended.

To renew your TN visa at a port of entry, you need to be prepared with the following:

  • A valid and completed TN application that includes an employer Letter and any supporting documents
  • The filing fee ($50, at the time of this writing)
  • Any separate costs associated with obtaining an I-94 card for your dependents

You must also be prepared to be interviewed by an immigration officer before your renewal is approved.

*Due to the novel coronavirus, many in-person immigration services have been temporarily suspended. If you were planning on leaving the United States and renewing your TN visa when you return, it may be best to renew your visa by mail before leaving the United States.

Renewing a TN Visa By Mail

Renewing a TN visa by mail is typically the more expensive and time consuming option, and it may take up to three months to receive a decision regarding your renewal. TN visa renewal submissions by mail typically require:

  • A valid and completed TN application that includes an employer Letter and any supporting documents
  • Completed form I-129
  • The filing fee ($455, at the time of this writing)
  • If you have dependents, file form I-539

Once you have mailed off the essential material to the USCIS, the next step is to wait and prepare for your over the phone interview with an immigration officer. Following the interview, if your application to renew is accepted, you will eventually receive a new visa card by mail, valid for three years.

The filing fee for TN renewal by mail is expensive, so you want to get it done right the first time. An experienced immigration attorney can help you prepare your renewal to ensure that all your paperwork is in order, and that you are ready for the interview.

Can I Travel Outside the U.S. with an Expired TN Visa?

A valid TN visa allows the visa holder to travel outside of the United States and return without issue, but if your TN visa is expired you may not be granted reentry into the United States. If your TN visa has expired, do not leave the United States — instead, take the necessary steps to renew your visa.

Getting Help from an Immigration Attorney

If you are renewing your TN visa and have any question about documents or the overall process, an experienced immigration law attorney is here to help. Whether it be assisting clients to legally avoid deportation or helping clients obtain visas and green cards, the JacksonWhite Immigration Law Team is dedicated to assisting immigrants successfully navigate the US law system.

 

Call our Immigration team at (480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.

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