TN – NAFTA Professionals
The TN was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and is available for Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the U.S. in a specific set of occupations enumerated in the TN regulations. If a person qualifies as a member of a TN – approved occupation, he or she may obtain initial TN status for up to three years. Under the law the TN may be renewed for an unlimited number of times. However, TN is a status of temporary intent which requires that the TN applicant show that he or she intends to return to his or her home country at the end of TN status. As a practical matter, then, one may have difficulty renewing the TN many times if the USCIS or other adjudicating agency decides that the applicant no longer has temporary intent.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE TN
The individual must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
The position in the U.S. is for a NAFTA-approved profession.
The individual will work in the U.S. in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for a U.S., Mexican, or Canadian employer (self-employment is not permitted).
The individual has the qualifications for the profession.
The individual can demonstrate temporary intent.
PROCESS AND TIMING
Canadian citizens can apply directly for a TN by presenting documentation that outlines their qualifications for the TN to a USCBP officer at a U.S. Port of Entry. Upon approval, the officer should stamp the applicant’s passport and enter an I-94 entry document in the USCBP computer system. The applicant should then retrieve the I-94 after entering the U.S.
Mexican citizens can apply for a TN by presenting documentation that outlines their qualifications for the TN to a consular officer during a TN visa appointment. Upon approval, the officer should process the applicant’s passport for a visa which the applicant then uses to travel to the U.S. The applicant should be granted entry into the U.S. in TN status by a USCBP officer who should stamp the applicant’s passport and enter an I-94 entry document in the USCBP computer system. The applicant should then retrieve the I-94 after entering the U.S. It is very important to note that due to visa reciprocity Mexicans will only be given a visa valid for one year. However, they are eligible for a three-year period of stay in TN status provided their passport is valid for the full three years.
Employers also have the option to file a petition with the USCIS for anyone eligible for a TN, whether the individual is in the U.S. or abroad. If the individual is in the U.S. the employer can petition for a TN with a change or extension of status for the individual. If the individual is outside the U.S. then he or she takes the approval and:
- presents it at a U.S. port of entry, if Canadian;
- presents it at a U.S. consulate to apply for a TN visa, if Mexican.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TN
How Long is Someone Allowed to Stay in the U.S. in TN status?
The validity period for a TN will depend on the length of the job. The maximum period of admission into the U.S. is three years at a time. Extensions of stay can also be granted in three-year increments. Please note that due to visa reciprocity rules Mexicans will only be given a visa valid for one year. However, they are eligible for a three-year period of stay in TN status provided their passport is valid for the full three years.
Can spouses of those in TN status work in the U.S?
No. spouses and children of those in TN status are eligible for TD status and are not eligible for work authorization.
What are the Qualifying Professions for TN status?
A complete list of the qualifying professions can be found through the NAFSA Adviser’s Manual at www.nafsa.org