The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created the TN status to facilitate the movement of workers across the shared borders.
TN’s are available to foreign nationals who are citizens of Canada or Mexico and will be employed in the United States in one of the specific occupational categories listed under NAFTA. A US company must sponsor the TN. TN status is granted for no more than three years, and in theory, it may be renewed indefinitely, as long as the position remains temporary. In order to qualify, the applicant must meet the minimum education, experience and/or certification requirements defined in the applicable TN classification. TNs are not numerically capped (H-1B Visas are numerically limited) and can be applied for at any time. Foreign nationals should be very careful if applying for a US green card (“immigrant visa”)while in TN status. TN visas cannot be obtained for “owners” of the US company sponsor. While a TN can, in theory, be renewed indefinitely, the inspecting officer must believe that the employee is coming to the United States for a temporary position, and does not intend to work in the United States permanently. A TN applicant does not need to maintain a home outside the United States to qualify for a TN.
Canadian citizens can apply for TN status at a US Port of Entry, without an appointment, or through a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Regional Service Center. A TN applicant must be intending to enter the US to work for the sponsoring US company at the time of entry. Processing of the TN application can take a few hours, and the applicant is expected to begin working with the sponsoring employer immediately after approval. Clark Hill’s Immigration Practice Group has extensive experience with TN applications, and our Detroit office is a short walk from the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel, where TN applications are processed.
Mexican Citizens must apply for TN status at a US Consulate in Mexico, prior to entry into the United States. The procedures vary slightly at each Consulate in Mexico, both in terms of the application process as well as the information that is required. However, an appointment is always required before the TN visa can be approved.
Extension or Appeal Process
Extensions for a TN can be made at a Port of Entry (Canadian citizens), at a US Consulate in Mexico (Mexican citizens), or through the USCIS Regional Service Center. Regardless of which method is chosen to apply for the initial TN or an extension, there is no appeal from a denial of a TN. This process has been affirmed by the US Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). Foreign nationals should be sure their paperwork is properly prepared prior to making an application for a TN.
TD status is available to immediate family members (spouses and children under the age of 21) who wish to accompany the TN employee to the United States. TD status is generally granted for the same period as the TN and must be extended accordingly. Family members in TD status may attend school or university, but cannot work in the United States in TD status.
TN Occupations (without degrees listed)
Here are the occupations listed in the NAFTA Professional Job Series which are eligible for TN visas:
Computer Systems Analyst
Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)
Lawyer (including Notary in the Province of Quebec)
Mathematician (including Statistician)
Range Manager/Range Conservationalist
Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)
Scientific Technician/ Technologist
Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)
Technical Publications Writer
Urban Planner (including Geographer)
Medical/Allied Professional Dentist
Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/ Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)
Physician (teaching or research only)
Agriculturist (including Agronomist)
Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and Licenciatura Degree in the United States)
Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)
Teacher (College, Seminary, or University)