Should I stick to TN or switch to H1B?

There are a few differences between H-1B and TN Visas that you may want to keep in mind when weighing your options. Based on the criteria you listed, I would recommend petitioning for an H-1B Visa.

First, there are filing fee requirements. Unless your employer is willing to front these costs, you will have to pay $300 to submit an I-129 application, a data collection fee between $750-$1500 (unless you are exempt), and a $500 fraud prevention fee to file for an H-1B Visa.

Second, you can only stay in the U.S. for six years on an H-1B Visa but may receive an extension if you file for a green card. TN Visas do not permit their holders to also file for green card status while in the country. If you seek permanent residence with a TN Visa you could be deported. The tradeoff is that you can apply for an unlimited amount of three year extensions with a TN Visa as long as you are working with a qualifying employer.

Third, it is easier to obtain a TN Visa than an H-1B Visa because the government caps the number of H1-B recipients at 65,000 annually. Processing times for TN Visas are also quicker than corresponding times for H-1B Visas.

Fourth, you can change your employer at any time with a TN Visa but must petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and obtain its approval before beginning work. H-1B Visas also require a petition but you can change employers and begin working after filing the petition – you do not have to wait for approval.

On the other hand, an H-1B Visa will permit you to work in any occupation requiring a bachelor’s degree whereas TN Visas only allow you to work in 63 specific occupational categories. This factor is irrelevant, though, if you are not going to switch professions.

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