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H-1B vs TN

Many people have heard about the H-1B visa for skilled workers but less are aware of the TN Visa. While the two visas are similar, in the sense they are for non-immigrant employment, there are some notable differences. The H-1B visa allows skilled workers from any country to enter the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation. The employer has to show that the nature of the job is so complex it requires a Bachelor’s or higher degree and the H-1B applicant must demonstrate that they have the training and skills this job requires. Sample jobs are doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers and computer programmers. While this visa only applies to skilled workers, there is no definite list of specific occupations or professions that make a candidate eligible, but samples of jobs that will not be approved are factory workers, chefs and musicians. An H-1B visa is valid for three years and the recipient can extend it for another three. If a candidate wishes to extend and H-1B beyond that they must show intent to be a permanent resident, by having filed an I-140 or PERM one year before their 6th year of H-1B expires. The H-1B visa is dual intent so if the individual applies for permanent residency they can still apply to extend their H-1B without intent issues.

The TN Visa, a product of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), applies only to Mexican and Canadian citizens who work in a specific profession defined by NAFTA. The list of TN approved occupations is wide ranging, spanning medicine, law, education, finance, and other professional fields. The TN visa is also valid for three years and unlike the H-1B, it can be extended indefinitely. However, unlike the H-1B, a TN recipient cannot extend their visa if they apply for permanent residency. This is because the TN visa does not have dual intent. It is purely non-immigrant with your intentions to be to return to your home country after expiration.

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