TN status is a type of employment authorization based on terms and conditions set out in the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (UCMCA, formerly NAFTA). TN status is available to citizens of Canada and Mexico who are seeking to enter the US to engage in pre-arranged business activities in certain professions. To qualify:
Among the TN professions especially common in higher education settings are the following:
Multiple Professions: Depending a person's primary job duties, an individual may need to establish eligibility for more than one TN profession at the same time. For example, a person whose professional duties are substantially divided between college teaching and scientific research may need to document eligibility for both the TN college / university teacher and TN scientist professions. Sponsoring departments should consult with the International Center for more details.
TN Status is granted for the length of the business activity up to a maximum of three years. It may be extended indefinitely in increments up to three years at a time (see extension information below).
TN employees may be accompanied by a spouse and/or unmarried minor children under 21; dependents are granted TD status. TD family members are not permitted to work in the US, but may engage in part- or full-time study.
In most cases, Canadian citizens will obtain TN status by requesting it upon arrival at a US port of entry or border crossing. The following outlines the steps to be taken to secure TN status.
Step One: Department submits TN Data Collection Form to the International Center
Departments who are offering employment in a TN-eligible profession to a Canadian citizen are required to submit a TN Data Collection form to the International Center. The TN collection form will provide the International Center with assistance to ensure timely information and assistance can be provided to the TN employee. See the section below on International Center processing for more information.
Step Two: Employee Requests TN Status at a US Port of Entry
Canadian citizens will generally request TN status directly at a designated US land border crossing or preflight inspection at one of the four designated international airports (Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver) . No visa application is needed, but US Customs and Border Protection will charge an incidental filing fee (currently $56) upon arrival at the port of entry or border crossing.
IMPORTANT: If the employee intends to drive to a border crossing at the US-Canadian border, the employee should call ahead to the CBP post at the specific crossing to ensure that TN processing is available at their planned arrival time. Certain crossings require appointments and/or provide TN services on specific times and days of the week. It is also further recommended that employees enter the US during regular business hours (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm) and carry contact information for their supervisor and the International Center.
Prior to arriving at a port of entry or border crossing, the employee should be sure to have documentation establishing eligibility for TN-1 status. Documentation includes:
Step Three: Notify the International Center of Arrival. Following arrival in the US, the employee should email the International Center at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide a copy of their Form I-94 admission record showing that they were admitted into the US in TN status.
The US Department of Homeland Security provides employers with the option to file a Form I-129 with USCIS, such as (1) to secure 'pre-approval' of TN-1 status or (2) to arrange for a change to TN-1 status for a person already in the US in another visa classification or an extension of someone already employed under a current TN-1 status approval. In the case of pre-approvals, TN-1 status must still be acquired at a US border crossing or port of entry. The pre-approval process is intended to facilitate entry and lessen the chances for rejection at the border crossing or port of entry. In the case of a change to or extension of TN-1 status for persons already in the US, this option is only to benefit Canadian citizens already in the US who do not intend or cannot travel back to Canada for the purpose of returning to the US in TN-1 status.
Departments should contact the International Center to request TN visa services to facilitate entry of a Canadian citizen as a TN professional. The International Center will:
To initiate TN-1 services for an employee, contact the International Center as soon as a sponsorship need is identified, and at least 60 days prior to the start of the TN-1 employee's position.
In most cases, a Canadian TN visa holder can extend TN status following the same procedures outlined above. However, if a return trip to Canada is not preferable, the International Center can facilitate an in-country extension application. Department managers should contact the International Center for more information at least 6 months before the employee's current TN status is due to expire.
Citizens of Mexico who qualify for TN status are required to apply for a TN visa at a US consulate prior to entering the US as a TN professional. The following steps should be followed.
Step One: Department Contacts the International Center
The hiring department must contact the International Center to determine if the individual and position are eligible for TN status. If eligible, the department will need to submit a completed TN Data Collection Form to the International Center.
Step Two: International Center Prepares a TN Visa Application Packet for the TN Professional
The International Center will prepare an employment letter and other materials for delivery to the TN professional to help establish the professional's eligibility for TN status.
Step Three: Employee Applies for TN Visa at a US Consulate
Upon receiving the TN Visa Application materials from the International Center, the employee applies for a TN visa at a US consulate. The employee may enter the US only after receiving a TN visa.
Step Four: Employee Requests TN Status at a US Port of Entry
The employee arrives at a US port of entry and presents the TN visa along with supporting materials and requests TN status. TN status is granted by a US Customs and Border Protection officer.
Step Five: Notify the International Center of Arrival.
Following arrival in the US, the employee should email the International Center at email@example.com and provide a copy of their Form I-94 admission record showing that they were admitted into the US in TN status.