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NAFTA Professionals (TN)

This classification is available as a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Only Canadian and Mexican citizens are eligible for TN status. The TN classification allows Canadian and Mexican citizens to be admitted to the U.S. temporarily to engage in business activities at a professional level. “Professional level” refers to those undertakings which require that the individual has a least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials in a profession set forth in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA (see page 2). The “business activities” must be employment or other prearranged business activities in a NAFTA-eligible profession, for a United States entity. The TN status holder may not be self-employed. Temporary entry, as defined in the NAFTA, means entry without the intent to establish permanent residence. The alien must satisfy the U.S. consular officer or inspecting immigration officer that the proposed stay is temporary. A temporary period has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.

Dependents of TN status holders are granted TD status. TD status holders are not allowed to accept employment or receive payment of any kind.

There are several advantages of the TN status: (1) “relative ease” of obtaining TN status when initially entering the U.S. from abroad, (2) no total maximum time limit for holding TN status (must be renewed in 1 – 3 year increments), (3) relative ease in changing to or extending TN status within the U.S.

Obtaining TN status upon entry to the U.S.

IMPORTANT: Departments and Divisions must consult with the OIS before a prospective employee seeks entry in TN status, to determine if TN is the appropriate status in a particular case. If the OIS determines that TN is the appropriate status, we will authorize the employing department to proceed with the documents required for the prospective TN employee to obtain TN status upon entry into the U.S.

At the port-of-entry (by land or by air), Canadian TN applicants must present the documents listed below to the U.S. immigration inspector for evaluation and adjudication. Mexican applicants must first apply for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, providing the documents listed below for evaluation, as a part of the visa application. Presentation of these documents is not a guarantee that the TN visa (for Mexicans only), or TN status and entry to the U.S. will be granted. The U.S. consular official or immigration officer will evaluate each case on its own merits, and according to the federal rules governing TN status determine the admissibility of the temporary worker.

The following documents are required for granting of the TN visa (Mexican citizens only) and for entry to the U.S. in TN status:
  1. A valid unexpired Canadian or Mexican passport as proof of citizenship
  2. Proof of possession of a professional degree in a field listed in the schedule of occupations listed in the TN regulations (under NAFTA, most TN professions require at least a bachelor’s degree). Contact the OIS to confirm that the occupation for which you seek TN status is on this list; Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received by the beneficiary from an educational institution located outside of the United States, Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service which specializes in such evaluations.
  3. A job offer letter from a U.S. employer for a professional position, describing the work to be done and the beginning and ending dates of the employment. Contact the OIS for a sample TN letter. JH Departments and Divisions must consult with the OIS for authorization and issuance of a TN “job offer letter”. There have been instances where the U.S. immigration officer has denied entry to a TN applicant because the information provided in a letter not authorized by the OIS was incorrect or insufficient for TN purposes.
  4. Canadian nationals will pay a $57 (U.S.) fee to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Mexican nationals will pay a $100 fee at the U.S. consulate for the TN visa, but no fee to CBP at the U.S. port-of-entry. At the U.S. port-of-entry, if all is in order, the TN status will usually be granted within an hour of arrival at the port-of-entry. The TN status will be marked on the applicant’s Form I-94 and in the passport. It will be valid for a period of up to three years from the date of entry, and can be extended. There is no maximum amount of time that a TN status holder may hold this status. However, TN status holders must not have the intent to establish permanent residence in the U.S. The TN applicant must satisfy the consular officer or U.S. immigration officer that the proposed stay is temporary.
Upon the Arrival of the TN Status Holder

Upon the TN status holder’s successful entry to the U.S., the employing department must send the TN visa holder to the OIS to check-in. [If the TN holder will work in the School of Medicine, the OIS will also complete Form I-9].The TN visa holder should bring the completed check-in form to the OIS along with his/her passport and related immigration documents.

Changes to TN status and extensions of stay in TN status within the U.S.

To request changes to TN status, or extensions of TN status, the OIS must file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Vermont Service Center. USCIS currently charges a $460 fee for changes to, and extensions of TN (plus an additional $370 fee for all dependents seeking TD status).

Except during the last 30 days of the validity of a TN status holder’s authorized stay, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors at U.S. ports-of-entry may not extend the TN status-holder’s status at re-entry to the U.S. Before a TN employee attempts extension of TN status by re-entry to the U.S., the hiring department must contact the OIS for authorization and approval of the TN extension letter. Contact the OIS at 667-208-7001 or e-mail for further information.