Navigating the TN Visa for Physical and Occupational Therapists

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Hiring a foreign physical therapist (PT) or occupational therapist (OT) does not have to be nerve-wracking. It can be a rewarding experience that can allow you to fill these valuable and understaffed roles.

As a hiring manager, you have several sponsorship options when deciding whether to hire a qualified applicant. The TN visa is one great option for sponsoring a Canadian or Mexican national for a PT or OT position.

Under the NAFTA Treaty, Canadian and Mexican citizens may work in in the United States for a temporary period. The TN visa can be granted for up to 3 years, and it is renewable. For healthcare employers, this visa can offer a relatively simple way to hire a qualified foreign physical therapist or occupational therapist.

What Are the TN Visa Requirements for Physical or Occupational Therapists?

There are 3 general requirements to obtain a TN Visa:

  • Citizenship
  • Education
  • Employment offer

TN visa documentation is the same for occupational and physical therapists. Requirements include:

  1. Proof of Canadian or Mexican Citizenship
  2. Baccalaureate or Licenciature Degree; Or state/provincial license.

A baccalaureate is the Canadian equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree. Likewise, the Licenciature degree is the Mexican equivalent.

If the candidate’s degree is not from the United States, Canada, or Mexico, you will need to obtain an education evaluation to show that the candidate satisfies the education requirement.

Proof of licensure is not required to obtain a TN visa, but it may be required by the state to work as a PT or OT.

  1. Proof of employment offer (such as a letter from the employer), including:
  • Explanation of the job duties,
  • Duration of employment
  • Education/licensing credentials, which show that the candidate qualifies as an OT/PT

How Fast is the TN Visa Process for Physical and Occupational Therapists?

Obtaining a TN visa is a relatively quick process since the candidate only has to apply at the US consulate (Canadian or Mexican citizens) or appear at the US Border (only Canadian citizens).

Appointment times for the US consulate vary by location. For example, on August 27, 2018 Mexico City’s wait time for an appointment was three calendar days. The US Department of State publishes wait times on its website.

What Are the Downsides of the TN Visa?

Not all healthcare fields are included in the current version of the NAFTA Treaty. For example, Speech and Language Pathologists generally will not qualify for a TN visa since the occupation is not referenced in the NAFTA temporary entry statute (8 CFR § 214.6).

A TN visa holder’s dependents can also reside in the US, but they cannot obtain an Employment Authorization Card (EAD).

How an Attorney Can Help You Obtain a TN Visa for Your Employee

Occupational and physical therapist employers should work closely with an experienced attorney to obtain the TN visa for their employees. A Chugh, LLP attorney can ensure that the visa process is as smooth as possible by providing guidance on each step and confirming the candidate’s qualifications.  Contact your Chugh, LLP attorney for more information.