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Do I need to apply for a new TN visa if I change employers?

An employee and employer having a conversation

If you are a Mexican national and you are in the U.S. on a TN visa, you may be wondering if you can change employers and if you do, whether you would need to go back to the Consulate and apply for a TN visa stamp (and potentially wait for your new interview at a Consulate for several months). This blog post will only analyze the change of employer situation for Mexican nationals.

The answer is, that you don’t necessarily need to go back to the Consulate and there are 3 ways how you can approach this situation:

1. The new employer can file an I-129 petition with USCIS

The new employer can file an I-129 petition with USCIS. Once you receive the approval notice from USCIS, you will be able to start working for the new employer. Additionally, if you have a valid visa stamp (even if it has the name of your old company on it), you will be able to travel internationally with the TN valid visa and the new I-797 Approval Notice. This approach may be quite expensive for the employer though, as there is a filing fee for the I-129 petition (currently $460), and if the employer wants to file the petition under premium processing, there is an additional fee of $2,500 for Premium Processing.

Additionally, you would need to wait until you get the Approval from USCIS to start working for the new employer (even under the Premium Processing, this would take 15 days). If the petition is filed under regular processing, you would be waiting for the decision for several months.

2. You could apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico

The second option how you can approach this is to apply for a new TN visa at a US Consulate in Mexico, and you would have to do this if your TN visa is expired/expiring and you want to travel internationally. It may take several months to get a TN visa appointment in Mexico though, so you should plan in advance. Alternatively, if your TN visa expired, the employer can file an I-129 petition with USCIS and if approved, that would allow you to stay and work in the U.S., and you can at least schedule your appointment at a Consulate and await the appointment in the U.S. You would need to bring all the supporting documentation to your visa interview such as a recent TN letter from the US company explaining your role in the US and documents showing your qualifications for the TN (e.g. Degrees).

3. Apply at a Port of entry

The third (and perhaps the easiest option) is to go to a Port of Entry and present a new Employment letter from the new employer (this needs to be the originally signed letter with wet signature, CBP does not accept scanned versions or electronic signatures) along with documents showing that you qualify under a particular TN category (such as originals of your degrees). This would only be an option if you have a valid TN visa, as you need a valid TN visa to be admitted to the U.S.

Grace period

When changing employers in the U.S., it is important to keep in mind the TN grace period. The grace period is either a 60-day period after your employment was terminated (either by you or the employer), or the day you I-94 expires. It is important that the new employer either files an I-129 Change of Employer petition with USCIS before your grace period expires, or you leave the U.S. before your grace period expires to avoid overstay.

Please see our blog post about TN categories that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree here.

Please see our blog post on Whether you can work for more than one employer on a TN here.

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