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TN Visa: Self-Employment and Entrepreneurs Not Eligible

The TN visa will not work for cases involving self-employment work or for entrepreneurs seeking to start a business in the United States. Self-employment is not the purpose of the NAFTA treaty. If you have questions about the TN visa and would like to consult with an attorney, contact The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience in a wide variety of complex and immigration law matters.

Self-employment work is not permitted

A TN visa application requesting self-employment in the US will be denied. It does not matter if you are engaged in self-employment in Canada or Mexico, only if you are seeking self-employment the US. If you are seeking to come to the US to engage in self-employment or to start a business, the E-1 treaty trader, E-2 treaty investor, or one of the other several visa options discussed elsewhere on our website may be more appropriate for you.

Prearranged professional services

It is permissible for you will provide prearranged professional services for a US entity, since this is not considered to be self-employment. This is true even if you are self-employed abroad. There must be a formal arrangement that you will provide professional service to an individual or enterprise through an employee-employer relationship or through a signed contract. The formal arrangement must exist at the time the TN application is filed.

Must not have substantial control over the US entity

In order to qualify, you must not have substantial control over the US employer you will work for. You must be substantively separate from the US entity. The following factors may be considered to determine whether or not you have substantial control over the US employer: whether you have primary or sole ownership of the company, whether the income of the business is received solely or primarily by you, whether you founded the company, and whether you exercise primary or sole control over the company. It does not matter if you have an ownership interest in the Canadian or Mexican company.

Must be employed by US entity

You must be coming to the United States to be employed by a US entity. The US entity can be of any legal type provided it is created under applicable law. The US entity may be either profit or not for profit, privately owned or government owned, and may be a corporation, trust partnerships, sole proprietor ship, joint venture, or other association.

Business entrepreneur not permitted

The TN visa classification does not permit a foreign national to come to this US to engage in an entrepreneurial business startup for which he or she will be self-employed. However, it is appropriate to set up a US worksite from which to provide services based upon a formal arrangement between you and the US employer company. If you would like further information about the TN visa or any other immigration matter, please contact our immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA to schedule a consultation with an attorney at an office near you.

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