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H-1b vs. TN visas 


Although the TN and H-1B visas appear to share similar elements, a closer examination reveals advantages and disadvantages to both visas. We have compiled a list of the pros and cons of these two so that those interested in applying for either visa can select the better visa for his or her immigration situation. 


TN: The foreign national must be a citizen from Canada or from Mexico.

H-1B: can be a citizen of any country. 

Place of application:

TN: can be applied for at the U.S. border or a U.S. airport, prior approval from the INS is not necessary.  

H-1B: a petition must first be submitted to one of four INS services center having jurisdiction over the place of employment. After the INS service center processes it, the approval notice is sent to the individual who can present it at a U.S. port of entry. 

Filing fees: As of 3/6/00, (subject to change)

TN: $50.00, payable at the port of entry  

H-1B: Total of $610.00: $1110.00 for the INS filing fee, $100.00 scholarship fee (waivable if the petitioning organization or company qualifies)  

Substantive requirements:

TN: The applicant must fit within a specific group of professional occupations listed in NAFTA (e.g. lawyers, biologists, accountants, interior designers). In almost all cases, a degree or license is required.  

H-1B: Has more flexibility by requiring that the position be a “specialty occupation”. A specialty occupation has been defined as one that “requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge”. A degree or a combination of degree and experience is acceptable.

Processing times:  

TN: Extremely quick. With the proper documents, can be adjudicated at the border or at the airport before a free trade officer. Advantageous for companies with urgent need for employee.  

H-1B: Painfully slow. This is because the application requires gathering information for the prevailing wage, obtaining certification for the labor condition application, and then waiting for the INS service center to process.  

Length of time granted:  

TN: Only one year. Thereafter the TN must be renewed or the applicant must return to the border for a new TN which can be inconvenient. However, the TN theoretically can be renewed/applied for indefinitely.  

H-1B: Good for up to six years in three year increments. Thereafter, the applicant must change to a different status or return home for at least one year.  

Affect on green card plans:  

TN: Since the TN requires that the foreign national have temporary nonimmigrant intent, the TN cannot apply for permanent residency while holding TN status. This would be a conflict of intent.  

H-1B: Permits dual intent so that the H-1B holder could apply for a green card (intending to become a permanent resident) while maintaining H-1B nonimmigrant status.  

Number available:  

TN: There are no numerical limits on the number of TN visas that are issued each year.  

H-1B: Each year, a specific number of H-1B visas are available. View our page on H-1B visas for more information on the exact number available.  This limit quickly becomes reached during the fiscal year so that applicants and their employers must wait several months before receiving approvals for this visa category.




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