The category "Professionals Under the North American Free Trade Agreement" is available only to citizens of Mexico and Canada. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a citizen of a NAFTA country may work in a professional occupation in another NAFTA country provided that:
The requirements for Canadians and Mexicans wishing to enter under this classification are not the same. Citizens of Canada must provide the following at the port of entry:
Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa, but instead receive "TN" status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), at the port of entry. The "TN" status will only be granted if the period of stay is temporary.
The requirements for Mexican citizens are as follows:
Individuals in TN status may apply for an extension of up to three years either by reentering the U.S. at an authorized port-of-entry, or by filing a petition with USCIS and requesting an extension of status.
Port-of-entry: The documentation for an extension at the port-of-entry is the same as what is required upon initial entry, but supported by an updated letter from the U.S. employer. Both Canadians and Mexicans should ensure they have a record of the prior admission in TN status (Form I-94, admission stamp or electronic Form I-94 print-out). Mexican citizens must also carry a valid TN visa stamp in their passport.
USCIS petition filing: The U.S. employer may file a Form I-129 with required fees and supporting documentation with USCIS to request an extension of status on behalf of the TN worker.
TN status does not allow "dual intent," and to be admitted as a TN employee, the applicant must be able to establish that s/he plans to return to his/her home country at some point in the future. TN status is not compatible with tenure-track faculty appointments or plans to immigrate to the US (i.e., become a "permanent resident" and hold a "green card.")
College researchers and faculty are included in the TN list of professions, as long as the degree is held in the field in which the research / teaching will be done.
Prospective Canadian TN workers who cross the border pay $50, plus $7 for the I-94 card. Dependents pay only for the card(s). Extensions and change of status requests, which are submitted to the CIS Service Center in St. Albans, Vermont by the Office of Visa and Immigration Services, cost $130 for TN principals, and $140 for any number of dependents. Alternatively, a TN status holder may return to Canada, and re-enter, showing the same proof of eligibility for TN employment as was originally shown. The same fee-scale as noted above upon initial entry will apply.
Last Updated: 5/2/14