Question: I am currently working on TN visa status with an early stage start-up. What happens if the company goes out of business? How will this effect my TN status? What can I do to avoid any problems with U.S. immigration?
Reply: In the event the TN petitioning company fails, or a TN visa worker otherwise ceases working for his/her employer, a TN visa worker’s status will no longer be valid and he/she will lose any authority to reside in the U.S. Such a status violation not only exposes a TN visa worker to removal proceedings, but may also complicate future immigration applications.
There is no grace period in this situation, and so whenever possible a TN visa worker should take remedial measures to protect his/her immigration status prior to the effective end-date of employment. One possible protective measure is to file for a change to visitor (B-2) status. The B-2 visa classification would allow a TN visa worker to wind-down his/her affairs in the U.S. and make preparations for departure.
As long as this application is filed prior to the effective end-date of employment, U.S. immigration will permit individuals to remain in the U.S. until a decision is made on the application. Unless they plan to make a final departure from the U.S., it is important that individuals do not depart the U.S. while the application is pending as this will result in the abandonment of the application, and the potential inability to immediately re-enter the U.S.
To file for a change to B-2 status, the basic items an individual will need to submit by mail to USCIS include:
- Completed I-539 application.
- Photocopies of valid passport(s) for the applicant and each family member.
- Photocopies of I-94 card(s) for the applicant and each family member.
- A description of the applicant’s means of financial support for the duration of the proposed B-2 stay with supporting documentation.
- A written statement explaining (i) the reason for the change to B-2 status; (ii) why the stay would be temporary including a description of arrangements for departure; and (iii) the effect the B-2 status may have on the applicant’s foreign employment or residence. (Although required by USCIS, part (iii) may not be entirely applicable to TN visa workers in the above scenario).
- $290 government filing fee (as of today).
Additional information on filing for a change to B-2 visa status is available here:
- USCIS I-539 Forms & Instructions.
- USCIS Filing Tips for I-539.
- USCIS: How to Change Status.
- USCIS Extension / Change Status Guide.
As being out of status, or having a B-2 application rejected or denied can have serious repercussions on one's immigration status, individuals in this scenario should consider speaking with an attorney to fully discuss all options and potential areas of concern.