TN Visa to Green Card

TN Visa to Green Card

What is the TN Visa?


If you are a citizen of Mexico or Canada, the TN Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for you to work temporarily in the US for certain occupations. Additionally, to be granted a TN Visa, the applicant must have a job offer from a US employer. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) governs which evidence is required to prove whether a Canadian or Mexican citizen is a professional in a qualifying profession. The TN Visa is a nonimmigrant visa, so the TN Visa holder is given a period of stay of 3 years, which can be extended indefinitely so long as the TN Visa holder demonstrates their intention to return to their home country.


What is the “dual intent” issue?


It is important to note that because the TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa, it does not automatically lead to a green card. Additionally, the TN Visa is not considered a “dual intent” visa. This means that because the TN visa holder declared to US immigration officials that they intended to depart when their period of authorized stay expires, they must maintain nonimmigrant intent. For this reason, applying for a green card while on a TN visa can be a violation of your stay.


Can I get a Green Card after a TN Visa? Answer: It Depends


There are three main options to transition from a TN visa to a green card without violating TN Visa status.


The first option is to switch from a TN Visa to a dual intent visa, and then apply for a green card. Dual intent visas that you may consider switching to include the L1 Intra-Company Transferee Visa, the H1B, and the E1/E2. Once you have obtained a dual intent visa, your employer can then file an employment-based green card on your behalf or, if you are married to a green card holder or US citizen, you can then file for a marriage-based green card without the issue of dual intent.


The second option is through family-based immigration, specifically through your spouse.  If your spouse is in the United States on dual intent visa and has the ability to opt for permanent residence, such as through their employer, then you can be included on their application for a green card as a derivative without violating the TN Visa single intent rule. Additionally, as long as you do not enter the United States with the preconceived intent to stay, your US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse can apply for your green card without you switching to a dual intent visa, so long as you apply more than 90 days after your most recent entry. Waiting 90 days overcomes the presumption of fraud (i.e. having the intent to stay), but you must be prepared to show you did not have immigrant intent when you entered.


Lastly, a TN Visa holder can transition to a green card via consular processing without violating the terms of the TN Visa. Because the terms of TN Visa require that your stay be temporary and with the intent to leave, consular processing is a natural next step to get a green card after the TN Visa. Consular processing comes into play after an immigrant petition is filed on your behalf and approved, and then requires that you leave the United States. While outside the United States, you will have a medical exam done and attend an interview. Upon a successful interview, you will be given a visa to enter the US, where you will then receive the green card. This is one of the most effective ways to transition from a TN Visa to a green card because your TN Visa will remain valid and allow you to re-enter the United States as needed until you must leave the US to complete the consular processing.


The process of transitioning from a TN Visa to a green card must be done carefully so as to avoid any immigration violations. My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.  If you have any questions about transitioning from a TN Visa to a green card, feel free to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.

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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

President of Ashoori Law

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.