A TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows qualifying Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily enter the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level. Over 60 professions qualify for TN visa status, making it a very popular option for professionals seeking to live and work in the United States.
Benefits of a TN Visa
Reasons why the TN visa is an attractive option for Canadians include:
- Quick processing times. Canadian citizens seeking to work in the United States may get the visa processed same-day at a port of entry. This ability to avoid consular processing is a huge advantage;
- The application fees are inexpensive. Compared to other visa types, the fees for applying at a port of entry are relatively inexpensive. Attorney fees also tend to be less expensive than for other forms of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications (see Sisu Legal’s fees for your TN visa investment here);
- TN visas can be renewed indefinitely (although renewal is never guaranteed). TN visas are valid for up to three years, and may be renewed indefinitely - although this is never guaranteed. Most other employment visa categories have maximum duration caps;
- Your spouse and dependent children can live in the United States with you. Your spouse and unmarried, minor children may live with you in the United States under “TD status”. Although they may live in the U.S. with you, they will not be issued open permits;
- No labor certification (PERM) is required. The employer does not have to prove that there are no qualified U.S. citizens who can do the job, making the immigration process more straightforward, quicker, and employer-friendly.
More detailed information on the TN visa is available in our Canada & U.S. TN Visa Guide.
TN Visas for Scientific Technologist / Technician Profession
One of the most scrutinized TN visa professions is the Scientific Technologist / Technician category. In large part, this is because Scientific Technologist / Technician is one of the few TN professions that does not require a degree or post-secondary diploma. Per the USMCA agreement, the following eligibility requirements apply to this profession:
- A theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and
- The ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research.
Further guidance on eligibility has subsequently been issued via INS memo, indicating that:
- Individuals for whom scientific technicians / technologists wish to provide direct support must qualify as a professional in their own right in one of the following fields: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics;
- A general offer of employment by such a professional is not sufficient, by itself, to qualify for admission as a Scientific Technician or Technologist (ST/T). The offer must demonstrate that the work of the ST/T will be inter-related with that of the supervisory professional. That is, the work of the ST/T must be managed, coordinated and reviewed by the professional supervisor, and must also provide input to the supervisory professional’s own work;
- The ST/T’s theoretical knowledge should have been acquired through the successful completion of at least two years of training in a relevant educational program. Such training may be documented by presentation of a diploma, certificate, or a transcript accompanied by evidence of relevant work experience;
- U.S. authorities will rely on the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook to establish whether proposed job functions are consistent with those of a scientific or engineering technician or technologist. ST/Ts should not be admitted to perform job functions that are primarily associated with other job titles.
- Not admissible as ST/Ts are persons intending to do work that is normally done by the construction trades (welders, boiler makers, carpenters, electricians, etc) even where those trades are specialized to a particular industry (e.g. aircraft, power distribution, etc).
In addition to the above, the applicant will only qualify for a TN visa if:
- They are a citizen of Canada or Mexico - permanent residents of either country are not eligible;
- They are seeking temporary entry - The TN visa is a non-immigrant visa, meaning the applicant must have temporary intent. The applicant must satisfy the examining officer that they will leave the United States when their employment concludes;
- They have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer or be servicing a contract with a U.S. client. Self-employment is not allowed under TN status;
- They must perform duties consistent with the profession, as defined by the Occupational Outlook Handbook (see above); and
- The applicant meets the qualifications of the profession.