Clarification of Interview Waiver for TN Visa Applicants

In 2012, the U.S. Department of State started to exempt some individuals seeking a renewal of their visa stamps from the in-person interview required during the DS-160 visa application process. While still requiring applicants to drop-off their visa application materials with the Applicant Support Center (ASC), some Mexican citizens were allowed to renew their TN visa stamps under this program without being subject to an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Although initial rules in 22 CFR 41.102 purported to state the requirements for this interview waiver program, who exactly qualified for the program was not entirely clear. Information on the program requirements provided in various Embassy and Consulate websites did not always fully explain eligibility for the program especially for TN visa applicants.

With a new rule effective Nov. 10, 2015, the Department of State has attempted to clarify the instances where it will allow an individual to avoid the in-person interview normally required during the DS-160 application process. With respect to Mexican citizens seeking to renew their TN visa stamps, the following individuals may be eligible for a waiver of their in-person interview when:

  • They are applying for the new visa within 12 months of the expiration of their old visa.
  • They are seeking the re-issuance of another TN visa stamp.
  • They are applying at the consular post located in their usual residence.
  • There is no indication of visa ineligibility or of noncompliance with U.S. immigration laws.

There are 3 cases where the interview will not be waived:

  • When individuals are applying at consular posts located in countries where they are not nationals or residents.
  • For individuals who were previously refused a visa (unless the refusal was overcome or a waiver of inadmissibility was obtained) or who are subject to more heightened security reviews.
  • For individuals from countries designated as sponsors of terrorism.

The DOS’ amended 22 CFR 41.102 rule is available here.

I-129 TN Visa Extension Approval for Mexican Engineer

TN VisaCase Info.
Background: The applicant, a citizen of Mexican, had previously obtained a TN visa stamp and status to work for his employer, which now wanted to renew his TN status. A citizen of Mexico has 2 options to renew: (1) file an I-129 petition with USCIS; or (2) file a DS-160 application for a new TN visa stamp at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. The applicant did not want to depart the U.S., and preferred to file an I-129 extension petition with USCIS. While this allowed him to remain in the U.S., the drawback of the I-129 for Mexican citizens is that the approval of the petition does not result in extended travel authorization. This would have to be obtained afterwards by filing a DS-160 application for a TN visa stamp.
TN Category:Engineer
Job title / duties:The job offered was titled Operations Engineer. The position involved the planning, designing, coordinating, and enhancement of the operational procedures and continuous improvement programs for the company’s manufacturing facility.

Education:The applicant possessed a Licenciatura in Electronic and Computer Engineering.
Filing Process:TN I-129 extension petition filed @ USCIS – Vermont Service Center
Processing time:4 months
Approval period:3 years

TN Visa to Green Card (Marriage USC) - Approx. 3 Months

Green CardCase Info.
Case History / Issues:Applicant was a Canadian citizen, and was working in the U.S. under valid TN visa status. Applicant was married a U.S. citizen.
Strategy:Reviewed case for adjustment of status eligibility, and to ensure no preconceived intent issues, or potential employment gap or travel issues. The applicant had last entered the U.S. under his TN status over 6 months ago. As such, there was minimal concern for preconceived intent issues. The applicant still had more than 2 years of work authorization remaining on his TN, and so there was little risk of him facing a gap in status or work authorization. (Once an adjustment of status application is filed, an individual may not be able to obtain a new TN.) The applicant also did not have any urgent travel plans. (Departing the U.S. after filing for adjustment of status and before receiving advance parole travel authorization would result in an abandonment of the adjustment application.) The applicant was, therefore, a good candidate for Adjustment of Status.

Reviewed case to assess the merits of the green card application. The applicant and her spouse had sufficient documentation evidencing the bona fides of their marriage, and therefore, should not have an issue securing approval of the I-130 petition. The U.S. citizen was employed, and had sufficient income to meet the I-864, Affidavit of Support income requirements.
Filing Process:I-130 / I-485 application @ USCIS
Filed:June 2015
Biometrics Scheduled:July 2015.
Employment Authorization / Travel Card Issued:August 2015.
Interview Date:August 2015 at USCIS' Philadelphia, PA local office.
Green Card Received:Sept. 2015
Processing Time:Approx. 3 months