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TN Status Information

Who Qualifies for a "TN" Visa?

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:

  1. the profession is on the NAFTA list
  2. the alien possesses the specific criteria for that profession
  3. the prospective position requires someone in that professional capacity and
  4. the alien is going to work for a U.S. employer.
The spouse and unmarried, minor children of the principal alien are entitled to the derivative status, known as "TD", but they are unable to accept employment in the United States. Aliens entering under this classification are considered non-immigrants. TN status is granted for an initial period of up to one year, with subsequent extensions possible.

How Can a "TN" Visa Be Obtained?

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:

  1. A request for "TN" status;
  2. A copy of the applicant's college degree and employment records which establish qualification for the prospective job;
  3. A letter from the alien's prospective U.S.-based employer offering him or her a job in the United States (this should be issued by the hiring department at Dartmouth College, not the Office of Visa and Immigration Services); and
  4. A fee of U.S. $50.00.

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:

  1. First, the Office of Visa and Immigration Services must file a labor condition application;
  2. Then, we will file an I-129 "Petition For Non-Immigrant Workers" with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS); and
  3. After the petition has been approved, the alien must apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico.

How Can an Application for Extension of Temporary Stay Be Bade?

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. 


Additional Notes on TN Status

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.

How Much Does It Cost?

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.

More Information on the CIS Website

Last Updated: 5/2/14