TN classification is available to qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens pursuant to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The nonimmigrant USMCA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as USMCA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged, professional level, business activities for U.S. or foreign employers. TN status may be granted in three-year increments. Currently there is no limit to TN stay in the U.S. However, an individual in TN status must maintain an intent to return to his or her home country.
1) Eligibility requirements for TN classification
TN status is available only to citizens of Canada and Mexico. TN applicants must be offered a temporary position in one of the professions listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 to Annex 1603 of the NAFTA. The list of professions includes, among others, Engineer, Computer Systems Analyst, Accountant, and Scientific Technologist. Most of the listed TN professions require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in the specialized field, but in contrast to the H-1B category, work experience equivalent to a degree is not recognized.
2) How is a TN application processed?
The TN application process cannot begin until the offer of employment is made and accepted. Although the TN classification is available to Canadian and Mexican nationals, the application process and timing is different for each.
- Canadian applicants: Canadians can apply for admission to the United States in TN status at a U.S. border crossing post or pre-flight inspection at designated international airports. The application consists of a letter from the employer describing the duties of the offered employment and how the position qualifies as a TN profession. The applicant must also present his or her educational documents to satisfy the education requirement for that TN profession. These applications are reviewed by the USCIS officer at the port of entry or airport pre-flight inspection on the day of travel to the United States. No visa is required.
- Mexican applicants: Mexicans can apply for a TN visa directly at the U.S. consulate in Mexico. The application consists of a letter from the employer describing the duties of the offered employment and how the position qualifies as a TN profession. The applicant must also present his or her educational documents to satisfy the education requirement for that TN profession. Alternatively, the TN employer can file a petition with USCIS. Once the petition is approved, the Mexican national is required to obtain a visa at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico before entering the U.S.
- Change of Status: U.S. employers who wish to hire Canadian and Mexican nationals already employed in the United States in another nonimmigrant visa status (e.g. H-1B, L-1), may request a change of status to TN by filing a petition with the USCIS. The beneficiary may not commence employment until approval of the TN petition.
3) Extension of TN status
As with all work authorization status types, TN status must be renewed or extended prior to the expiration of the employee’s current TN status (evidenced by the expiration date of the I-94 card).
Canadian nationals with plans to travel outside the United States in the weeks or months immediately before the expiration of their current TN status may make a new application for admission in TN status at a U.S. port of entry or pre-flight inspection. Upon reentry, the TN employee can be admitted for another three-year period of stay in TN status.
Where a border application is not an option, TN employees must have an extension filed by the employer before the current status expires in order to preserve his/her right to continue to work at the company. Once the TN extension request has been filed, the employee will have continued work authorization for up to 240 days or upon USCIS approval of the extension, whichever comes sooner. In the event of international travel (even to Canada) while the extension application is pending, another TN application would need to be submitted upon reentry.
The employee should contact their employer approximately six months prior to expiration of their current TN status to ensure sufficient time remains to process an extension.
SUPPORT DOCUMENTATION FOR TN NONIMMIGRANT PETITION
FROM THE PETITIONING COMPANY:
- Photocopies of most recent Annual Report or Financial Statements
- Federal Tax I.D. Number (EIN)
- Name, title and address of company’s signatory for the immigration forms
- Name and address of company’s headquarters
- Year, city and state company was established
- Current number of employees
- Proposed job title for the foreign national
- Complete job description of the proposed position
- Salary offered to the foreign national
- Address of proposed work location
- Company’s minimum requirements to fill this position
- Photocopies of company’s marketing brochures, certificate and articles of incorporation, etc.
- Anticipated start date
FROM THE FOREIGN NATIONAL seeking TN status:
- Completed Immigration Questionnaire (form attached)
- Individual’s foreign address and telephone number
- Preferred place of entry/processing of TN petition, such as an airport or port-of-entry
- Evidence of individual’s Canadian citizenship, such as passport biographic page or birth certificate
- Photocopies of individual’s passport pages evidencing all prior entries into the U.S. using a U.S. visa
- If presently in the U.S., please forward copies of the front and back of the white Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record card showing most recent entry into the U.S.
- Photocopies of individual’s university or trade school diplomas and certificates, with course transcripts
- Individual’s resume, curriculum vitae, etc.
- Photocopies of the individual’s prior Form I-797 (Notice of Approval) or other immigration issued documents evidencing prior and current visa status in the United States, if applicable
- Photocopies of the individual’s last 2 pay statements with current employer
- Photocopy of most recently available governmental income tax withholding form (U.S. “W 2” Wage and Tax Withholding Statement, Canadian “T 4,” British “P60” or Australian “Group Certificate”, or similar foreign tax authority document) showing year, name of foreign employer, name of employee, salary paid, tax withheld, etc.
If possible, English translations should be provided for any foreign language document