Everything you need to know about the TD Visa for TN Visa Dependents
The Treaty NAFTA (TN) visa is a nonimmigrant travel visa that is specifically available to Mexican and Canadian nationals under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico. In addition to the economic benefits derived from this agreement, it also aims to make traveling and working in the U.S. more accessible to Canadians and Mexicans. Thanks to this special visa category, thousands of people from Canada and Mexico have been able to establish long-term working relationships in the United States as NAFTA professionals.
However, that’s not the whole story. There is also the Treaty Dependent (TD) travel visa for their eligible family members. In this guide, we provide a comprehensive review of everything you need to know about the TD visa category for TN dependents.
TD Visa Overview
The TD visa allows the legal spouse and young children the primary TN visa holder to relocate to the United States. In order to qualify, the children must be unmarried and under the age of 21. While the TD visa does come with its share of advantages, such as the fact that dependents don't actually have to be Canadian or Mexican citizens to qualify, there are also limitations, which we’ll go over later.
Since it is a dependent visa, the TD visa is only valid for as long as the TN visa holder’s status remains valid as well. Like the TN, the TD visa is awarded for an initial three years after which it must be renewed. Fortunately, there is no limit on the number of renewals that one can take for their TD visa status. TD-1 visas are issued to eligible family members of Canadian citizens while TD-2 visas are issued to eligible family members of Mexican citizens.
What about extended family and domestic partners?
Parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc and domestic partners do not qualify to enter the United States as dependents in TD visa status. They will need to apply for a B-1/B-2 Visitor visa or any other available transfer category, such as the Visa Waiver Program.
TD Visa Eligibility Requirements
The paramount requirement here is that TD visa applicants should be able to demonstrate their spousal or parent-child relationship with the primary TN visa holder. If approved, TD visa holders will also receive an I-94 record governing their duration of stay in the U.S. This I-94 record will come with the same period of stay authorized for the TN visa holder.
Some of the required proof for establishing this relationship include:
Original and copies of marriage certificate (for spouses). This document must be translated and notarized if it is originally not in English.
Any other documents that prove your marriage to the TN visa holder, such as wedding photo album, wedding ceremony program, wedding invites, etc.
Original and copies of birth certificates (for children)
Valid passport of each applicant
The TN visa holder will also need to provide certain documents, including:
Copies of the TN status holder’s passport with a valid I-94
Copy of job offer or employment letter from the U.S. employer where the TN visa holder works
TN worker’s recent pay stubs and a recent letter from the TN visa holder’s U.S. employer
TD Visa Application Process
Before we delve deeper, it’s important to note that there are some distinctions when it comes to obtaining TD visa status. For one, the process is different for Canadian citizens as it is for Mexican citizens.
If you’re applying as a Canadian citizen
Typically, since the law doesn’t require Canadian citizens to have a travel visa in order to enter the United States, so you can simply apply for your TD status at a U.S. port of entry together with your TN spouse or parent. Of course, you’ll need to provide evidence demonstrating your Canadian citizenship – namely a valid passport. Canadian citizens under the age of 16 may submit a copy of their birth certificates or, alternatively, present a Canadian Citizenship Card.
Another crucial benefit of applying as a Canadian citizen for TD visa status is that if you’re entering the U.S. together with the primary TN visa holder, you don't need to bring separate pieces of evidence since it would only amount to submitting duplicate copies. As the TN visa applicant provides his or her proof of employment and other required documentation for this visa category, this already demonstrates your right and capability of obtaining a TD status.
If you’re applying as a Mexican citizen or any other non-Canadian citizen
Compared with Canadian citizens who need not worry about the visa stamping requirement, Mexican and other non-Canadian citizens do require a visa to gain entry into the United States. With that in mind, the first thing to note is that you’ll need to file for a TD visa stamp before you can enter the United States. This process is done in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the TD dependent’s home country.
In addition to gathering all the required documentation for TD status listed above, each family member must also electronically file and pay the processing fees for form DS-160, Department of State’s “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. You can submit your documents at a local Application Support Center and then schedule your consular processing at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. This is just the general process and may vary based on the nationality of the TD applicant so it is important to review any specific instructions provided.
If approved, you’ll receive the TD visa stamp on your passport. Keep in mind that for Mexican citizens, the TD visa stamp is currently valid for only one year, while validity periods for other non-Canadian citizens vary on the applicant’s citizenship.
Afterward, present your stamped passport and other required documents to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry for admission. Upon satisfactory review, the CBP officer will issue you an I-94 record.
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TD Visa Filing Fees
There are also some slight differences when it comes to necessary TD visa filing fees for Canadian and Mexican citizens. For Canadian citizens, the filing fee amounts to $6, while the fee for Mexican citizens and non-Canadian citizens is $160. These are the only application fees one has to pay for the process.
Limit on Re-entry
Mexican citizens on TD visa status who have had at least one extension to their visa and leave the U.S. must apply for a new TD visa before they can re enter. This limit is not applicable to Canadian citizens.
Change of status to TD visa
Eligible family members of TN visa holders who are already in the U.S. on a different visa category can file Form I-539, Application To Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status, to switch to TD visa status. A spouse applying for TD status in the U.S. will need to fill out Form I-539 with their own information and sign the Part 5 of the form.
For minor children, only the eldest child’s information needs to be entered on the form. Children who are 14 years or older may also sign in Part 5 of the form; if the child is under 14, the primary TN visa holder can sign the Form I-539 on their behalf and provide their own information in Part 5.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the filing process for Form I-539 will differ if the applicant is filing it concurrently with the TN visa petition or after.
Filing your I-539 concurrently with the TN visa petition
The entire I-539 application packet should include the following documents and submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
Copy of current U.S. visa in your passport
Copies of current I-94 from CBP’s I-94 website
Copies of admission stamp with notations in your passport
Copies of Form DS-2019, I-20, or I-797A/I-797B (where applicable)
Copies of passport biodata/expiration page(s)
Copies of marriage certificate for the spouse
Copies of birth certificate for each child
Copies of any other required documents for filing Form I-539
It’s also a good idea to get an immigration lawyer to review these documents and make sure they are fully compliant with USCIS regulations. If everything is in order, you can then submit your petition at a USCIS lockbox facility or send it by USPS and courier deliveries mail to:
Attn: T/U-Visa Unit
75 Lower Weldon Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
Filing your I-539 after the TN visa petition
Family members will have to mail their I-539 application packets to the USCIS on their own. This packet should contain all the documents listed above for each applicant along with the approved TN visa petition and other supporting documentation, such as a letter from the U.S. employer.
Form I-539 Fees
Filing Form I-539 comes with a fee of $370 as well as an $85 biometric services fee for each applicant. These fees may be paid with a money order, cashier’s check or personal check. Applicants filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility may also pay using their credit cards by filling out Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. Check payments should be made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Keep in mind that these filing and biometric service fees are final and non-refundable, regardless of the decision of the USCIS.
Extending Your TD Visa Status
Generally speaking, TD visa holders who have committed any crimes or in any way violated the terms of their stay, and have a valid passport that will last beyond the extended stay, may apply to extend their TD status. Per the USCIS, applicants for TD status extensions should initiate the process at least 45 days in advance. Ideally, you should file the extension application before the expiration of your TD I-94 record, otherwise the USCIS may deny the petition.
That being said, while extending your TD status is a possibility, it still remains connected to the principal TN visa holder’s extension of status. If the TN visa holder applies for an extension of stay in the U.S., you can also apply for an extension by filing Form I-539 with the USCIS. If filing for more than one dependent, then you’ll need to attach a Supplement A Form to the I-539.
The extension fee is listed at $$290, but if your spouse or parent is a Canadian professional on TN-1 status, you can avoid paying this fee by applying for extension at the border. In this scenario, the only fee involved would be a $50 filing fee. Extensions for TD visa status are awarded for the same length of stay granted to the principal holder of the TN visa.
Can TD visa holders obtain employment authorization?
Unfortunately unlike other dependent visas like the L-2 and H-4 visas, TD visa holders are not allowed to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) to accept employment in the United States. In other words, if you’re looking to get a work permit and gain employment in the U.S. as a TD visa holder, you have to file a new change of status into a visa category that allows you to work in the United States. For example, if your TN spouse switches to another nonimmigrant work visa like the L-1 or H-1B visa, then your TD status will also change to the applicable dependent status.
Alternatively, if you have the necessary educational qualification for these visas on your own and are able to get an employer to sponsor your petition, you can also file the change of status for yourself and therefore become employed in the U.S.
What about studying in the U.S. on TD visa status?
TD dependents are eligible to enroll in any U.S. educational institution without having to obtain an F-1 student visa first. Nevertheless, you should note that since TD visa holders are considered to be non-residents, they might be subject to higher tuition fees. Additionally, since the TD visa is only available to children below 21 years old, it might be more ideal to switch to an appropriate student visa so that they will not be considered out of status during their studies.
At the same time, students on F-1 visa status have the possibility of getting a work permit for part-time employment during school years and holidays. Plus, switching to a student visa means you are no longer dependent on the primary TN visa holder to maintain your status. Remember that as a dependent visa, the TD visa will be affected by any changes in the TN visa holder’s status and will ultimately affect one’s possibility of pursuing their education further in the U.S.
Is the TD visa a dual intent visa?
Unlike other work visas, the TN and TD visas are not considered dual intent so the holders are not allowed to pursue a green card while holding these visas. In fact, TN and TD visa applicants may be denied if the consular officer determines that the candidate has intentions of seeking permanent residence in the United States.
If you’re looking to obtain a green card after spending a few years in the U.S. on TN or TD visa status, you will first need to file a change of status to an appropriate visa category that allows for dual intent, like the L-1 or H-1B and then apply for a green card afterward.
The Key Takeaway
The TD visa helps to keep families from Canada and Mexico together when one member has to travel to the United States for work on TN status. That’s why we hope that this comprehensive guide has at least answered some of your questions.
And while it’s vital to understand the nuances of this dependent visa category, it’s also important to consider your capability of getting financing and credit services for building your new life in the U.S. If you’re already here, then you know how challenging it can be to secure things necessary for everyday life, such as credit cards, car rentals, apartment leases and even phone/internet plans. This is because a U.S. credit score is one of the most important things that creditors and service providers look at when evaluating an application. Unfortunately, it takes years to obtain a U.S. credit history, let alone build a solid credit score. But there’s a way around it.
If you need assistance with obtaining these services, you can always consider Nova Credit, as we focus primarily on helping non-US residents transfer their international credit scores from their home countries. We do this through our Global Credit Passport® which essentially translates your credit history and credit report from Canada or Mexico into something that U.S. lenders and creditors can use to evaluate your application for credit cards, auto rentals, student loans, apartment rentals and many more.
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