Can I Buy into the Company that Sponsored Me for a TN Visa?

Question: I am a Canadian Veterinarian working in the U.S. on a 3-year TN Visa.  I want to buy into the clinic where I work. Do I need a green card to do so or can this be done on the TN Visa?

Reply: Individuals should be cautious about obtaining an ownership interest in the company that has petitioned them for TN visa status.

The TN visa classification has a rule against self-employment, which generally means that an individual cannot obtain a TN through a company that he/she either solely owns, or substantially controls. See 8 C.F.R. s. 214.6 (b); and NAFTA Handbook. An individual may argue that he/she does not run afoul of this provision if he/she possesses only a minority interest in the company and lacks authority over the company’s actions.

However, applications where the applicant has an ownership interest in the petitioning company have a high denial rate. In fact, many immigration officers – improperly I might add – consider any ownership interest in the TN petitioner as improper.