TN status was created under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement as a way to facilitate the entry of Canadian and Mexican professionals in specific occupations into the U.S. For Canadian and Mexican professionals who qualify for this classification, this is an excellent short-term employment based classification to consider. An advantage of this classification is that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not need to pre-approve these applications. TN applicants can apply directly with the U.S. consulate (Mexicans) or at the U.S. port of entry (Canadians). TN status is granted in periods of up to three years and is renewable.
TN status is employer and job specific. However, it is possible for someone to have more than one employer sponsor them for TN status concurrently.
In order to qualify, both the position and the individual must meet certain criteria.
The position must:
- be in one of the occupations listed in the Treaty
- be temporary (tenure-track positions should pursue H-1B status)
The individual must:
- be a Canadian or Mexican citizen
- must possess the minimum qualifications needed for the occupation (typically this means baccalaureate or licenciatura degree in the appropriate field and any required licensure by the occupation)
- intend to leave the U.S.
Applying for TN Status
The following documents are needed when applying for TN status:
- Proof of citizenship
- Detailed letter from the employer that:
- indicates it is an occupation covered by the treaty
- describes the job duties
- describes the educational/professional qualifications of the individual
- describes the terms of employment (length of appointment, salary, etc.)
- Evidence that the job is one of the occupations covered by the treaty
- Evidence that the individual has the required education, license, etc for the position (diplomas, transcripts, licenses, etc.)
- statement that this is a temporary employment
- application fee
Extensions of TN status can be done either through a formal petition to USCIS or through travel. Many TN status holders find it convenient to apply for their extensions during a trip to their home country. However if travel is not a convenient option, then it is possible to apply for an extension through USCIS by filing an application for extension of nonimmigrant status (Form I-539) with the Vermont Service Center.