PROFESSIONAL WORKERS FROM CANADA AND MEXICO
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on October 14, 2008 that it has increased the maximum period of time a Trade-NAFTA (TN) professional worker from Canada or Mexico may remain in the United States before seeking readmission or obtaining an extension of stay. The final rule changes the initial period of admission for TN workers from one to three years, making it equal to the initial period of admission given to H-1B professional workers. Eligible TN non-immigrants may now be allowed to receive extensions of stay in increments of up to three years instead of the prior maximum period of stay of one year. The TN nonimmigrant classification visa category is available to eligible Mexicans and Canadians with at least a bachelor’s degree or appropriate professional credentials who work in certain qualified fields pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Qualified professions identified within NAFTA include, but are not limited to, accountants, engineers, attorneys, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. The final rule eases administrative burdens and costs on TN workers. It also benefits U.S. employers by increasing the amount of time TN non-immigrants are able to work for them before having to seek an extension of status. Spouses and unmarried minor children of TN non-immigrants in their corresponding nonimmigrant classifications also are eligible for three-year extensions. If you would like more information about the new three-year TN, please contact one of our attorneys.