TN FOR CANADIAN AND MEXICAN PROFESSIONALS
The TN visa category is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It permits Canadian and Mexican citizens who possess specific required qualifications and credentials to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis in certain defined professional occupations. Canadian and Mexican citizens can be admitted to the United States in TN status in increments of up to three years. Extensions of stay are also granted in up to three year increments. Status can be renewed indefinitely, provided that the stay remains temporary in nature.
The regulations specify various categories of professions as well as the minimum qualifications for each profession that are covered by Appendix 1603.D.1 to Annex 1603 of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Canadian citizens are generally not required to possess a nonimmigrant visa to enter the U.S. Therefore, if currently outside the U.S., a Canadian who has a job offer may apply for TN status when requesting admission to the U.S. at the Port of Entry to the United States or at a pre-clearance/pre-flight station in Canada. A TN petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is not required; although the employer has the option of filing the petition first, and having the employee travel to the U.S. when the petition is approved. If the Canadian employee is currently in the U.S. the employer may file a petition with USCIS to change or extend their status, or as an alternative, a Canadian who has a job offer may simply depart the U.S. and apply for TN classification directly upon re-entry to the U.S.
Mexican citizens require a visa to enter the U.S. A Mexican citizen who is currently abroad must first apply for a TN visa at the U.S. Consulate before applying for admission to the U.S. in TN status. A petition with the USCIS is not required. If the Mexican employee is currently in the U.S., the employer may file a petition with USCIS to change or extend their status; alternatively, the employee may simply leave the country and apply for a TN visa at the US Consulate abroad.
A TN nonimmigrant may be employed on a part time or full time basis. A TN nonimmigrant may not start employment until they are actually in TN status. If an application for extension of TN status is received in a timely manner by USCIS (before the current I-94 expires), the TN employee can continue working for the same employer for up to 240 days while the application is pending. TN status is employer and employment specific. Therefore, TN status holders may change jobs, or have more than one job, but USCIS must approve all new employment and the new employment cannot begin until the USCIS approves the employer’s petition and the petition start date is reached, or the TN reenters the United States, with an I-94 issued for the new job.