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I am in the US on a TN visa and just got an offer from another TN employer. Can I change TN employers?

By August 19, 2022August 22nd, 2022Immigration, TN Visa
A man choosing employers

The TN visa can be an excellent option for nationals of Canada or Mexico who want to work in the United States. To qualify, the applicant must have an offer of employment from a U.S. employer to work in a listed profession, and the applicant must be qualified to work in that profession. The list of professions and their related qualifications is published in the TN regulations at 8 CFR 214.6. For more information on the TN visa and its requirements, please see our earlier post here.

It is not uncommon for those who are in the U.S. on a TN visa to receive an offer of employment from another TN employer. In this post we will discuss whether changing TN employers is permitted, and how to apply for government authorization to do so.

I am in the U.S. on a TN visa and received an offer of employment from another TN employer. Am I permitted to change TN employers?

Yes. It is permissible for someone working in the U.S. for one TN employer to accept an offer from a second TN employer. However, the TN visa holder cannot begin working for the new TN employer until the U.S. government – either U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (or USCIS, if the application is filed within the U.S.) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (or CBP, if the application is filed at the border) – approves the change of TN employer.

What are my options to apply for government approval of my new TN employment opportunity?

The TN visa holder who receives an offer of employment from a new TN employer has the same options to request authorization from the U.S. government to change employers as they had to apply for the initial TN visa: they can apply through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by filing a Form I-129, apply at a consulate through the U.S. Department of State, or, if they are a Canadian national, they can apply at a border (through U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP). In addition, in certain circumstances Mexican nationals may be able to apply for concurrent employment at the border without appearing at the consulate – these circumstances are detailed below.

Applying to change TN employers at the border or consulate

As with initial TN applications, Canadian nationals have the option to apply for authorization to work for a new TN employer at the border. To apply at the border through CBP, the applicant would present the required application materials for the new TN employment opportunity – including a letter from the new employer detailing their need for the TN employee, the applicant’s background and qualifications, the timeframe of the employment opportunity, and the salary that will be paid, among other things. Upon entry, the applicant would be able to begin working for the new TN employer.

The benefit of applying to work for a new TN employer at the border is that the applicant will receive an immediate decision. Upon being granted entry they can immediately begin working for the new TN employer. Among the disadvantages of applying at the border is that, depending on the profession, certain ports of entry can be more challenging. For example, management consultants face higher scrutiny in general, and at certain ports of entry in particular.

Fortunately, Mexican nationals who have a valid TN visa also have the option to change employers at a port of entry. At the border they would present their existing TN visa, along with an employer letter from the new TN employer. It is also recommended that they bring all supporting documentation showing that they qualify for the TN visa under the new employer.

Mexican and Canadian nationals can, in the alternative, apply for authorization to work for a new TN employer through a consulate – again, the process would be very similar to the process required for an initial TN visa application.

Applying to change TN employers through USCIS

Both Canadian and Mexican nationals can apply for authorization to change TN employers through USCIS. To do so, the new TN employer must file a Form I-129 (petition for a nonimmigrant worker). On this form, they would specify that the TN worker is seeking TN status in order to work for a new employer.

Although USCIS may require several months to adjudicate the Form I-129, applicants have the option to request premium processing, which would provide a decision within 15 calendar days for an additional fee of $2,500.

Mexican nationals who have a valid TN visa and receive an approved I-129 for the new TN employer while they are in the United States can avoid going to the consulate for a new visa by simply bringing the I-129 approval notice and visa to a port of entry.

Also important to note is that the individual’s underlying TN status should not be affected if the I-129 is denied. Unlike an application that is submitted at the border, which is submitted by the TN worker, the Form I-129 is filed by the employer. Note that the employer’s responsibilities are minimal, in spite of the fact that the employer must sign and submit the Form I-129. As we discuss in our earlier blog post here, the TN visa does not require formal sponsorship by the employer. As a result, the TN worker can continue to work for their original TN employer even if the Form I-129 requesting a change of employment to the new TN employer is ultimately denied.

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