Immigration Options for Mexican Professionals – How to Be Your Own Sponsor
Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need a sponsor to live and work in the U.S. legally. I’ve met many Mexican professionals who would love to move to the U.S., seize the opportunities for growth in their careers, and provide a better life for their kids. But they don’t make the move because they mistakenly think they must have either a family member or employer to sponsor their application. That’s simply not true!
Several U.S. visa options allow you to be your own sponsor and to apply for legal status in the U.S. without a family or employer sponsor. These self-sponsored visas put you in control. You can take action on your own to seize the opportunities available in the U.S., grow your career and your business, and provide stability and peace for your family.
If you are a Mexican professional thinking about living and working in the U.S., you should consider the following self-sponsored visa opportunities, so you can pursue your U.S. legal status now and not wait any longer to start your life in the U.S.
Self-Sponsored Visa Options for Mexican Professionals
The E-2 Investor Visa and the TN Visa for Mexican professionals both provide lawful status for you to live and work in the United States and do not require an outside sponsor. While these visa options do not offer a path to a green card or citizenship, they can both be renewed indefinitely and provide lawful status for your spouse and children under 21 so your family can live together in the United States.
E-2 Investor Visa
With an E-2 visa, Mexican professionals can live and work in the U.S. while running their own business. The visa is valid for four years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business is operational. E-2 spouses have unrestricted work authorization to work for any U.S. employer, and E-2 kids can enroll in U.S. public schools.
To qualify for an E-2 investor visa you must have invested a “substantial” amount of money in a U.S. company that you own. There is no minimum investment amount, but you must invest enough to bring the business to life as a real and operating business. A franchise can be an ideal E-2 visa investment, but you can also buy an existing company, or start your own unique business.
E-2 visas for Mexican professionals have historically been processed only in Ciudad Juarez, with a professing time of 3-5 months. In December of 2020, the U.S. embassy in Mexico City began accepting E-2 cases as well. This is an exciting development, which should help Mexican investors move to the U.S. more quickly, as we expect Mexico City to move more quickly in adjudicating E-2 visa cases.
TN NAFTA Visa
TN visas were created as part of the NAFTA treaty and are only available to nationals from two countries – Mexico and Canada. Though NAFTA has now been replaced by the USMCA, the TN visa option remains unchanged and provides a phenomenal opportunity for Mexican professionals wanting to move to the U.S. quickly.
TN visas are available to Mexican professionals if 1) your profession appears in the NAFTA/USMCA treaty list of professionals, 2) you have the required experience, education, or skills required by the treaty for that job type, and 3) you have a job offer from a U.S. employer.
To get a TN visa you must have a job offer from a U.S. company, but that company does not serve as your immigration sponsor and your employer or job does not need to be pre-qualified in any way by immigration. When you apply for your TN visa the only document you need from your prospective employer is a job offer letter saying your new employer will hire you once you enter the United States. The rest of the TN visa application is focused on you and your professional qualifications for the position.
TN spouses receive a TN spouse visa (called a TD Visa), which allows the spouse to live lawfully in the United States and to attend school. A TN spouse is NOT permitted to work in the United States under the TN spouse visa. This is an important factor to consider for families in which both spouses would like to continue their careers while living in the U.S.
TN visas can be granted very, very quickly, and you could historically get approval in as little as a week, though more commonly you would receive approval in about 2-4 weeks. This timeline has slowed considerably during the coronavirus pandemic, and many consulates are not currently processing TN visa cases. We expect cases to start moving more swiftly as the situation begins to improve and consulates in Mexico are able to remain fully open for TN visa processing. For now, any qualified professional who is interested in a TN visa can begin looking for a job with a U.S. employer, as this step is often the most time-consuming part of the TN visa process.
Other Immigration Options for Mexican Professionals
Mexican professionals can always take advantage of the traditional immigration options available through family and employer sponsorship, the self-sponsored options we mentioned, and other self -sponsored options like the E-1 visa. There are also several self-sponsored green card options for Mexican professionals – the EB-1 Green Card for Individuals of Extraordinary Ability, the EB-2 Green Card for Work of National Importance to the United States, and the EB-5 Green Card for Investors. We’ll continue talking about these options in future newsletters, but I want you to be aware of these opportunities when thinking about the options for you and your family.
If you haven’t explored your options for moving to the U.S. from Mexico because you don’t have a sponsor, then I want you to forget that way of thinking and know that you can create your own path. The E-2 investor visa and the TN visa both put you in control and allow you to pursue your career and your future in the U.S. now, without the need for outside sponsorship from a family member or employer. It is within your power to take control of your life and your career and to build the life you’ve dreamed of for you and your family in the United States.