A Texas attorney will be sentenced in November for up to 5 years for making false statements in connection with his TN visa status.
After obtaining TN visa status in 1997 with a law firm, the attorney purchased the law practice in 2000, and became the majority shareholder. He then apparently used that firm to sponsor his TN visa applications for the next 14 years. Questions about his ownership must have been raised as a possible violation of the self-employment prohibitions under TN status. But when asked by investigators in 2014, the attorney falsely told investigators that another attorney was the majority shareholder of the firm. The attorney was later indicted for making false statements in connection with his application.
While there is no bright line test for what will violate the self-employment prohibitions under TN status, a TN visa applicant who is the sole or primary owner of the business generally would run afoul of this restriction. Normally, if U.S. immigration determines that a TN visa applicant is engaging in self-employment, the result will simply be a denial of the application. In more severe cases, there can also be a risk of expedited removal, which carries a 5-year bar to re-entry to the U.S. These are civil penalties. It is rare to see a criminal prosecution in connection with a TN visa, but as we can see with this case, TN visa applicants can face criminal prosecution for egregious misconduct in connection with their visa applications.