Embarking on a journey from a TN visa holder to a green card recipient opens doors to stability and long-term opportunities in the United States.
If you're ready to elevate your status from temporary to permanent, this step-by-step guide will illuminate the path and provide you with the essential knowledge to complete the complex yet rewarding process of converting your TN visa to a green card.
Let's dive in and unravel the steps that can lead you to a new chapter of your American dream.
What Is the TN Visa, and How Does It Work?
The TN visa, or non-immigrant NAFTA professional visa, is a non-immigrant visa available to citizens of Canada and Mexico. It allows professionals in certain qualifying occupations to work in the United States temporarily.
Designed to facilitate cross-border employment, the TN visa offers streamlined entry for professionals who engage in activities like business consulting, scientific research, teaching, and more.
However, the TN visa has a crucial limitation: it's a non-immigrant visa, which means TN visa holders are expected to maintain a non-immigrant intent and demonstrate that they have no intention of permanently residing in the U.S.
The Issue with Dual Intent
The process of converting a TN visa to a green card involves a crucial factor known as "dual intent."
The TN visa mandates non-immigrant intent, signifying a temporary stay in the United States. By contrast, pursuing a green card denotes immigrant intent — the aspiration to attain permanent residency.
The interplay of these dual intents presents a unique challenge during the transition from a TN visa to a green card, prompting inquiries into the applicant's underlying motivations.
An experienced dual intent status immigration lawyer can provide valuable guidance in managing this intricate transition, ensuring that your dual intent visa progress aligns with your immigration goals.
Pathways for Transitioning from TN Visa to Green Card
The goal of converting a TN visa to a green card presents various pathways, each of which has its prerequisites, procedures, and processing times. Depending on your situation and eligibility, you can consider the following options above.
Enlisting an immigration attorney can assist you in choosing the optimal route and guide you through the procedure involved in transitioning from a TN visa to a green card, ultimately helping you seek permanent residency.
Step-by-Step Guide: Converting a TN Visa to a Green Card
Converting a TN visa to a green card is a significant step toward achieving permanent residency in the United States. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the process, taking you through each essential step.
Keep in mind that there are various categories of green cards available, and selecting the right one is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition.
Step 1: Select the Right Green Card Category
The first and arguably most critical step is identifying the best green card category for your situation. The choice largely depends on your qualifications, employment type, family relationships, and other factors.
There are several employment-based and family-sponsored categories, each featuring specific eligibility criteria.
It's wise to familiarize yourself with the nuances of these categories, such as EB-2 for professionals with advanced degrees, EB-3 for skilled workers, EB-1 for individuals with extraordinary abilities, and family-based categories like F1 for unmarried children of U.S. citizens.
Step 2: Choose Between Employer-Sponsored Petition or Self-Petition
Once you've identified the appropriate green card category, you must determine whether you'll use an employer-sponsored petition or a self-petition.
Employer-sponsored green cards typically involve your employer initiating the process on your behalf, while self-petitioning requires meeting specific criteria without employer sponsorship.
Step 3: Obtain a Labor Certification (If Required)
Labor certification might be mandatory for certain employment-based green card categories, especially those under EB-2 and EB-3. This process serves to verify that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the job you're seeking.
Your prospective employer must obtain a certified labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor before proceeding.
Step 4: File Form I-140 or I-485
After completing the preliminary steps, you'll need to file either Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), depending on the green card category you're pursuing.
The employer typically files Form I-140 as part of the application process, while Form I-485 is for applicants who are already in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa and wish to adjust their status to permanent residency.
Step 5: Seek Adjustment of Status or Undergo Consular Processing
If you're in the U.S. and eligible for adjustment of status, you can submit Form I-485 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Doing so allows you to transition from a nonimmigrant status to a green card holder while remaining in the U.S.
If you're outside the U.S., you'll need to go through consular processing, which requires attending an interview at a U.S. consulate in your home country.
Step 6: Attend a Biometrics Appointment
Once Form I-485 has been filed, you'll receive a notice for a biometrics appointment. Your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be documented during this appointment for screening and security purposes. This information helps verify your identity and ensure that you meet the requirements for obtaining a green card.
Step 7: Complete a Green Card Interview
For many applicants, an interview with a USCIS officer is a mandatory part of the green card application process. The interview allows the USCIS officer to verify the information provided in your application and assess your eligibility for a green card.
You must prepare thoroughly for this interview and bring along all required documentation.
Step 8: Receive a Decision and Follow Up
After your green card interview, USCIS will decide on your application.
If it's approved, you'll receive a welcome notice, and your green card will be mailed to you. If additional documentation or information is needed, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). It's essential to promptly respond to any requests from USCIS to avoid delays in processing.
How much does it generally cost to convert a TN Visa to a green card?
The expenses of transitioning from a TN visa to a green card can fluctuate based on the chosen green card category, the accompanying legal charges, and additional considerations. Typically, Canadian or Mexican citizens seeking this conversion might anticipate attorney fees and application costs ranging from $5,000 to $7,000.
What are the application fees for Form I-140 or Form I-485?
Application fees for Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) differ depending on whether you're a Canadian or Mexican citizen. As of 2023, the filing fee for Form I-140 in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories is $700.
Similarly, the total filing fee for Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) stands at $1,225 for applicants aged 14 to 78, which includes the biometrics fee.
Are there any government fees for consular processing?
There is a fee requirement for individuals outside the U.S. seeking to adjust their TN visa status through consular processing. This fee, amounting to $325 as of 2023, is paid to the U.S. Department of State for processing the immigrant visa petition.
To ensure a smooth transition from TN status to permanent residency, it's advisable to consult an immigration lawyer familiar with TN visas and the path to seeking permanent residency.
Ready to Secure Your Future? Partner with SimVisa for TN Visa to Green Card Conversion!
Each step in your journey from a TN visa to a green card plays a vital role in securing your permanent residency in the United States.
Remember, this is a transformative process that demands attention to detail and adherence to specific requirements. Whether you're seeking an employer-sponsored pathway or planning on taking the self-petition route, having the right guidance can make all the difference.
SimVisa specializes in immigration law and offers seasoned services to guide you through this intricate process. Our experienced immigration lawyers are dedicated to providing you with the knowledge and support you need to successfully convert your TN visa to a green card.
Contact us today and let us help you achieve your goal of securing permanent residency in the U.S.