Employers nationwide have been left struggling to meet their hiring needs, with manufacturing companies have been no exception. However, there is a solution for these companies to find the new talent they need to fill specialized occupations, the TN work visa.
The TN work visa is available for citizens of both Canada and Mexico and is often overlooked amidst the jumble of temporary employment visas amongst the Immigration and Nationality Act. These alternatives include the H-1B, O-1, and L-1, which are often not feasible because of immense competition, shortages of availability, and long wait times.
The TN visa, on the other hand, offers an appealing option due to the ease it provides employers in recruiting foreign national workers as well as the considerable variety of occupations it permits. These occupations are provided as “professional” by the former North American Free Trade Agreement, now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
This includes one category of professions that is often useful for manufacturers, the engineering category. This is a broadly defined category covering all positions with a minimum educational requirement of at least a bachelor’s or Licenciatura degree within an engineering field or an officially offered license. Including various fields, such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, or even software engineering.
The process of receiving a TN visa is relatively simple and can be quickly performed by visiting a United States Consulate for Mexican workers or from a port-of-entry for Canadians. The process is generally far faster than other visa options and is offered for three-year periods with indefinite renewal options allowing these workers to be retained for the long haul.
Another benefit is that these workers are permitted to bring their family members along. However, it is essential to note that the spouse of a worker with TN status will not be granted employment authorization which could dissuade many workers. However, for those close enough to the border to allow an employee to travel into the U.S. for work, this may not present any problem.
A TN visa is a compelling option for many employers, particularly those in manufacturing who can use the engineering category. However, TN visas, as with all temporary employment authorization, can add unique complexity to completing the Form I-9 process. The best way to handle this is with an electronic I-9 management tool. This can guide employers on what amount to acceptable sources of verification and store documents securely for future review.
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