TN Work PermitsOctober 6, 2014
The TN work permit is available to Canadians and Mexicans who will engage in an occupation listed under the NAFTA agreement. That list is available at http://canada.usembassy.gov/visas/doing-business-in-america/professions-covered-by-nafta.html. When applicable, the TN offers some advantages over the H-1B visa. For example, it is not subject to quotas and it is renewable indefinitely in three-year increments. In contrast, the H-1B is only available certain times of the year due to quotas and it has a maximum stay of six years. The TN encounters challenges in the green card context as to dual intent and extendibility, but can serve as a good “bridge” or interim visa for a new hire, especially when H-1B quotas have been met. For example, an employer who identifies a job candidate in December can hire that candidate immediately on a TN work permit and can then file in April to convert the TN to an H-1B. If the H-1B filing is not selected in April (under the lottery system that is conducted due to the excess demand for H-1B visas), then the employee remains working in TN status for the remainder of the three-year period and can if desired file to convert on the following April for a second chance under the H-1B lottery. Canadians are visa-exempt and therefore become a TN by simply crossing the border with the correct supporting paperwork from their sponsoring employer.