Trade NAFTA (TN) status is based on the North American Free Trade Agreement. It 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:
The person must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
The person must have a pre-arranged offer to engage in a business activity, within a profession listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of Annex 1603 of the NAFTA
Self-employment is not permitted in TN status
The person must have the educational and professional credentials required for the profession, as listed on Appendix 1603.D.1 of Annex 1603 or the NAFTA
Among the TN professions especially common in higher education settings are the following:
College / university teacher
Scientists and scientific technicians
Medical / allied professionals, including veterinarians
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).
Benefits and Restrictions
TN employment may be part- or full-time
TN status is employer-specific; the TN professional is only permitted to work for the TN sponsor
A TN employee may have more than one employer, but each employer must request separate TN authorizations for the employee
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.
Department Processes for Requesting TN Professionals
TN Status for Canadian Citizens
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 port of entry or preclearance inspection station at a border crossing. 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 must carry documentation establishing eligibility for TN-1 status. Documentation includes:
A valid Canadian passport
A letter of employment from Tufts, on Tufts letterhead, addressed to the US Customs and Border Protection with a detailed description of primary job duties that establishes eligibility of the employee for TN-1 status under the appropriate NAFTA profession as listed under Appendix 1603.D1 of the NAFTA Treaty
The employee's CV
Original versions of the employee's educational credentials (diplomas and transcripts) that meets the educational requirements for the employee's TN profession
Original versions of other licenses and credentials as necessary for the employee's TN profession
Recommended: a printout of Appendix 1603.D1 indicating the employee's profession and the educational and licensing requirements for the profession
Step Three: 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.
International Center Processing
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:
Review the prospective employee's eligibility for entry in TN status
Facilitate preparation of an appropriate TN employment letter and additional supporting materials
Provide departments and employees guidance on requirements for initial and subsequent re-entry in TN status
Advise employees on the benefits and restrictions attached to TN status
Prepare and submit to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) a Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker*
*While Canadian citizens can request TN status at a port of entry on the basis of an employment letter and other documents, in certain cases the International Center may recommend that Tufts file a Form I-129 petition to obtain pre-approval of TN status for the employee. While this pre-approval does not guarantee that the employee will be granted TN status, it may help to reduce the possibility that the TN employee will be rejected or delayed in entering the US.
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.
Extending TN-1 Status
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.
TN Status for Mexican Citizens
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 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.