A Comprehensive Comparison of TN vs H1B Visa

If you are considering working in the United States, you may be considering either a TN or an H1B visa. Both types of visas provide a way for foreign nationals to work in the US. However, the eligibility requirements, application process, benefits, and drawbacks of each visa differ significantly. In this article, we will compare both visas, talk about their requirements and help you find the best option for your professional goals.

Key Takeaways

  • TN visa is exclusively for citizens of Canada and Mexico, while H1B visa holders can be from any country
  • TN visa is faster and less expensive to obtain than an H1B visa
  • H1B visa is more secure than TN visa, as it offers a longer duration of stay (up to 6 years) and has an opportunity for renewal
  • H1B visa applicants must have a minimum of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in work experience, while TN visa applicants do not require a degree
  • TN visa provides limited opportunities for dependents while the H1B visa allows dependents (spouses and children) to accompany the visa holder to the U.S

TN Visa

The TN visa category is a non-immigrant visa that permits Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work in the United States. This visa was established under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is aimed at making it easier for professionals to work between the US, Canada, and Mexico.

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Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for TN visa, the applicant must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • Job offer from a US employer in a pre-approved occupation
  • Applicant must possess the education, training or work experience required for the job
  • Proof of intent to leave the US when the TN visa expires

Application Process

The application process for a TN visa involves the following:

  • Offer of employment: The first step to applying for a TN visa is to obtain a job offer from a US employer. The job must be in one of the pre-approved TN occupations listed by U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Gather the relevant documents: Applicants must submit certain documents like their passport, offer letter and proof of education or work experience. The employer also has to provide documents such as a letter of support and a Labor Condition Application (LCA).
  • Apply for the visa: With all the necessary documents in hand, the applicant can submit their TN visa application to a US consulate or embassy. The TN visa costs around $50-$60, and the processing time can take a few days to a few weeks.


Here are some benefits of TN visas:

  • TN visas are faster and less expensive to obtain than H1B visas
  • There is no limit to the number of TN visas issued each year
  • TN visa holders do not have to worry about maintaining immigrant intent while in the United States.


Some drawbacks of TN visas include:

  • TN visa holders cannot change their employers while in the US
  • The job offer must be in one of the pre-approved TN occupations listed by U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • TN visas provide limited opportunities for dependents to travel to the US
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H1B Visa

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US employers to hire foreign nationals in specialty occupations. It is a highly sought-after visa category as it provides a longer duration of stay compared to other non-immigrant visas.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for an H1B visa, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Must have a minimum of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in work experience
  • Must have a job offer from a U.S employer in a specialty position
  • An employer must be willing to file a petition for an H1B visa
  • Proof that the applicant’s employment is purely temporary

Application Process

Here are the steps involved in the application process for an H1B visa:

  • Employer files a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL)
  • The employer then files an H1B petition with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • The applicant may apply for a visa upon receipt of the USCIS Notice of Approval


Some benefits of H1B visas include:

  • Longer duration of stay compared to TN visas (up to 6 years, with an opportunity for renewal)
  • H1B visa can be converted to a Green Card
  • Dependents of H1B visa holders (spouses and children) can accompany them to the U.S


Some drawbacks of H1B visas include:

  • More expensive and time-consuming to obtain than TN visas
  • Cap and lottery system in place, making it harder to get approved
  • H1B visa holders are subjected to a process known as wage level determination which can impact their compensation


When deciding between TN and H1B visa, you should consider various factors such as eligibility requirements, application process, benefits and drawbacks of each visa. While TN visa is faster and less expensive to obtain, H1B visa provides more job security and longer duration of stay. Ultimately, the choice of visa depends on your professional goals and personal circumstances.

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Can I change employers on an H1B visa?Yes, you can change employers while in the US on an H1B visa. However, the new employer must file a new H1B petition on your behalf.

Can my spouse work on an H1B visa?Your spouse may be eligible for an H4 visa, which does not permit them to work in the US. However, in certain circumstances, an H4 visa holder may obtain a work permit.

What are the pre-approved TN occupations?TN visa pre-approved occupations include accountants, architects, engineers, management consultants, scientific technicians, and more. A full list of jobs can be found on the USCIS website.

Can an H1B visa be extended beyond six years?Under certain scenarios, an H1B visa can be extended beyond six years. One popular option is to apply for a Green Card, which would allow you to stay and work in the US permanently.

About the Author

Latasha W. Bolt

Latasha is a travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a degree in journalism and has been traveling the world since she was a teenager. Latasha is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares her knowledge and experiences on the blog. Her articles are personal and engaging, providing readers with a unique perspective on the joys and challenges of international travel.

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