The "TN" (Trade NAFTA) Non-Immigrant Category for Canadian Citizens
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) established a special "TN" non-immigrant category which enables citizens of Canada and Mexico to be admitted to the U.S. to engage in "business activities at a professional level." TN status is limited to specific occupational classifications as defined by the treaty, and is both employer- and position-specific. The TN professional is admitted to the U.S. for one year at a time. Extensions of status are permitted in additional one year increments with no limit. Requests for extensions can be made by the employee by travel to the Canadian border and re-entry into the US. Although this category may be extended indefinitely in one year increments, it is for temporary employment (that is, not for tenure track appointments, which are considered permanent). Consult the OISS for information on other more appropriate visa categories for such positions.
The process of obtaining TN status for Canadian citizens is relatively fast and simple; for citizens of Mexico it is more complex. The information contained in this document describes the process for Canadian citizens. Please contact the OISS for information regarding the TN process for Mexican citizens.
Qualifying Professions Under NAFTA
To be eligible for admission to the US in TN status, the Canadian citizen must demonstrate to the immigration service that he or she will engage in employment which is on the list of qualifying professions, that the position requires at least a baccalaureate degree (and/or other appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional), and that he or she possesses the requisite educational background and experience for the profession and the position being offered.
All applications for TN visa status must include:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship (passport, birth certificate, or certificate of naturalization);
- A letter
from the UNH department offering the employment. (Please consult the
International Faculty and Staff Advisor at the OISS to assist with the
preparation of this letter.) This letter must be written on University
letterhead and bear an original signature of the person with hiring
authority. The letter must affirm the following:
- the title of the position offered as it appears in the appendix to the NAFTA treaty;
- a description of the professional activities, including a brief summary of job duties and the minimum requirements for the position;
- a description of the applicant's professional qualifications and appropriate credentials which demonstrate that he or she has the educational background and qualifications necessary for the position;
- the anticipated length of the position (which may not exceed one year);
- the specific arrangements for remuneration during the time period requested; and,
- if required by state or local law, that the Canadian citizen complies with all applicable laws and/or licensing or certification requirements for the activity in which he/she will be engaged.
- Evidence of the appropriate degree awarded in the form of a copy of a diploma or official transcripts indicating the degree which has been awarded;
- A copy of a recent resume or C.V.;
- The processing fee.
The US immigration officer at the Canadian border will inspect the documents to determine if both the individual and the position qualify for TN status. Upon making a satisfactory determination, the Officer will issue Form I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure) to the foreign national. The I-94 will bear the notation "TN," the date of expiration (which will not to exceed one year from the date of the application), and the name of the employer. A receipt will be issued for the fee; this receipt should be retained along with Form I-94 for any future trips outside the U.S. during the designated period of stay.
A Canadian citizen seeking admission to the U.S. in TN status must apply for admission with a US immigration officer at a "Class A" port of entry if traveling by car. TN status is not processed at every US-Canada border crossing. A call placed in advance to the inspection station at the planned port of entry will verify if TN applications are accepted. Applications for TN status may also be made by arriving air passengers at US airports handling international traffic or at a US pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station at an international airport in Canada. If traveling by air, documentation must be presented to a US immigration officer at least two hours in advance of the actual flight departure time to allow sufficient time for the processing of the application.
The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21) of an individual who is admitted to the US in TN status are eligible for "TD" dependent status for the same period of admission as the TN status holder. Proof of family relationships (that is, marriage certificates for spouses and birth certificates for children) will be required. Each dependent must present proof of Canadian citizenship. Canadian citizen dependents are not required to obtain visas, but simply present themselves at the border for entry. If the dependents are entering the US separately from the principal TN holder, they should carry a copy of the I-94 card of the TN.
If one or more dependents are not Canadian citizens, the dependent(s) must apply to a US Embassy or Consulate in Canada for a visa in order to enter the US as a dependent of a TN. After obtaining the visa, the non-Canadian citizen dependent will present his/her valid passport containing the visa stamp at the US port of entry and will be admitted in TD status.
A foreign national in TN status may leave the US and be re-admitted for the remainder of the period of authorized stay as indicated on Form I-94 as long as the original intended professional activities and employer have not changed.
In these cases, the scholar should not surrender Form I-94 upon leaving the US. Upon re-entering the US, the TN holder should present the original, valid Form I-94 to the immigration officer.
If the scholar no longer has the original Form I-94, but the period of initial admission has not lapsed, alternative evidence may be presented such as the original fee receipt for admission in TN status, or a previously issued admission stamp as TN in a passport, and a letter confirming continued employment from the US employer.
TN status is renewable in one year increments. The process for extending TN status through departure and re-entry to the US is the same as that of the initial entry, i.e. individual must present:
- proof of Canadian citizenship;
- the I-94 card with the original TN notation;
- a new letter from the US employer requesting a continuation of the status and containing the same information as the initial letter described above;
- proof of educational and professional background; and
- the filing fee.
Dependents may also request an extension of TD status at the time of re-entry. If dependents travel separately from the TN scholar, proof that the TN scholar's stay has already been extended is required.
Under federal regulations, individuals in TN status are permitted to work only for the employer who sponsored their status in the specific job requested at the time of entry. Holders of TN status are not permitted to be employed or receive compensation from any other source. If an individual wishes to work for an additional employer, or to change employers, he or she must return to Canada and apply for TN status for the new employer at the time of re-entry.
It is the responsibility of the OISS to protect the University by monitoring the employment eligibility of every foreign national employee. Every UNH employee holding a non-immigrant visa is required to check in with the OISS within one week of arrival on campus. At that time, the International Faculty and Staff Advisor will check the employee's immigration documents for accuracy and employment eligibility and will provide the employee with an orientation and materials designed to facilitate cultural adjustment.
Please call (603) 862-0086 or send email to contact OISS for assistance with your immigration needs and to arrange group orientation for the TN employee on arrival.
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