DOS Updates NAFTA TN Process For Canadian And Mexican Citizens

The Department of State has issued a cable to update the processes for entry into the U.S. under TN status. The TN Visa was enabled by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed into law by President Clinton in late 1993. A portion of NAFTA was designed specifically to enable “temporary entry for business consistency persons.” Because NAFTA affected the investment, trade and professional services interplay between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the agreement directly affected a range of visas, including the B-1, E, L and TN visas as they pertain to these North American nations.

Professionals from Canada and Mexico who are members of professions listed in NAFTA are eligible to apply for TN visas. These aliens must meet a range of requirements, however, for legal admission to the United States. The overwhelming majority of these professions require that the alien have, minimally, an undergraduate degree. In these cases where an undergraduate degree is required, experience may not be substituted for that degree. In many of the professions listed under TN standards, additional experience and criteria are also required.

Employment Required: Aliens wishing to enter the U.S. under a TN classification must engage in prearranged business activity for either a U.S. or foreign employer, and evidence of this engagement must be provided in advance of entry. Self-employment is not an applicable category for the TN visa; individuals from Canada and Mexico interested in engaging in self-employment in the U.S. should pursue either a Treaty Trader or Investment visa.

Entry Documentation: Canadian citizens are not required to have a nonimmigrant visa in hand to enter the U.S. (with the exception of the E and K categories). Mexican citizens wishing to enter the U.S. under TN status, however, are required to obtain a visa prior to entry, and should seek this visa at a consular office.

Required Documentation: The following documentation is required for the TN visa:
1. Proof of citizenship;
2. Evidence of an offer of employment;
3. Proof that the alien meets the minimum education/work experience requirements of the professional category; and
4. Proof that the alien intends to temporarily stay in the United States.

In some cases, aliens may be further required to provide evidence of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States.

Fees: There is a processing fee of $50 to classify Canadian citizens as TN professionals. No fee is required of Mexican citizens.

Length of Stay: TN professionals and their derivatives may stay in the U.S. for up to one year under this classification.

Part-time employment: Part-time employment is acceptable under the TN classification. Changing or Adding Employers: Aliens under the TN classification may change or add employers while in the U.S. Aliens should file form I-129 with the Nebraska Service Center of the USCIS and provide new documentation and the $120 processing fee. Canadians may leave the U.S. and apply for readmission at a port of entry, using new documentation and a $50 fee.

Spouses and dependents: Spouses and dependents may accompany or follow a TN visa holder under the derivative TD status. Dependents may not work while in the U.S., but may attend school full-time. There is no processing fees for dependents.

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