TN status is a non-immigrant visa classification available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who are qualified members of certain pre-determined occupations (see the full list below). Qualifying professions require at least a baccalaureate or licenciatura degree and/or, in some instances, professional licensure or certification. The TN may be granted in increments of up to three years at a time and may be extended indefinitely. Although it is similar to the H-1B classification, TN status contains some notable advantages over H-1B visa status. Dependents of a TN are given TD status and may not be employed in the United States.
Advantages of TN Status
- In many instances, TN status may be obtained more quickly.
- If the individual is subject to the two-year home residence requirement [212(e)] stemming from J-1 status, s/he may be able to obtain TN status without obtaining a waiver of the requirement.
- There is no cumulative total limit on the time a Canadian or Mexican citizen can be in TN status. TN status may be granted in increments of up to three years.
Disadvantages of TN Status
- There is no dual intent like the H-1B; therefore, it may be problematic to apply for permanent residence while in TN status.
Canadians never need to obtain a visa stamp from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They may apply for TN status at the port of entry into the United States. No prior pre-approved application is needed. Mexicans must apply for a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.
Documents Needed for TN Application at Port of Entry or U.S. Consulate
1. Proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship
2. Letter or contract from the employer that outlines:
a) Job description
b) Anticipated length of stay (three-year maximum)
c) Qualifications needed for the job
d) Terms of employment (salary, hours, etc.)
e) Evidence the Canadian/Mexican meets any applicable licensure requirements for the position
3. His/her professional qualifications (diplomas, licenses, etc.)
4. Application fee
A TN has two options for extending his/her TN status:
1. (a) Canadian: Travel to the U.S.-Canadian border with a letter from his/her employer and apply for TN status. The individual must pay a processing fee at the time of application.
(b) Mexican: Travel to the U.S. Consulate in Mexico with a letter from his/her employer and apply for a TN visa renewal.
2. Apply for an extension through USCIS. To apply, complete the TN Extension Request Form and submit it to OGS with all required attachments for processing. Please allow 3-4 months for processing.
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