As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a special visa qualification was offered to citizens of Canada and Mexico who qualify for temporary employment positions that can be categorized into certain professional classifications as defined by the NAFTA agreement. This immigrant visa is known as the TN visa, and includes a wide variety of positions in diverse fields such as social work, accounting, science, mathematics, and nursing. These visas are issued for one-year durations, but can be extended indefinitely.
In order to qualify for a TN visa, a candidate must have at least the U.S.equivalency of a Bachelor Degree in the professional area for which he or she applies. To prove that the foreign degree is equivalent, a foreign education credentials evaluation must be done by a qualified agency, such as Career Consulting International. These educational evaluations are then submitted, along with other documentation, to USCIS officials to determine whether the visa application will be approved or denied.
Professionals who apply for TN Visas may apply for TD visas to allow spouses or dependents to accompany them and reside with them during their stay in the United States. People who hold TN visas, however, may not seek employment within the United States. Canadian citizens are referred to as TN-1 Visa applicants, while citizens of Mexico are designated as TN-2 applicants. The most recent change in policy directly affects TN-2 visa applicants. The application process differs between Canadian and Mexican citizens, however. TN-1 Visa applicants may apply for this immigrant visa either at a US-Canada border crossing, or at most Canadian international airports. In this case, the TN visa may be granted on the day upon which the candidate submits the visa application, a foreign education credentials evaluation report, and accompanying documentation.
Recently, the procedure has changed for citizens of Mexico applying for TN-2 Visas through the Matamoras, Mexico Consulate. Although this change has not yet been reflected on the consulate’s website, these new changes became effective on September 10, 2008. Visa applicants must now call for an appointment or schedule one online at the consulate website, located athttp://matamoros.usconsulate.gov/matamoros/nafta_visas_tn.html.
Previously, applicants were able to submit their foreign education credentialsand evaluation reports prior to the interview. This is no longer true. Now, applicants are required to submit their foreign credential evaluations and other documents at the time of the interview appointment with the consulate.
The employer is still required to submit the employee’s work credentials to the USCIS to demonstrate that the employee is qualified for the TN-2 Visa. Only after approval may the employee schedule an appointment to have his or her visa stamped at the consulate. The employee’s start date will only be determined after these steps have been completed.