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The TN (Trade NAFTA) status was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to enable the entry of Canadian and Mexican citizens to the United States to engage in “business activities at a professional level” on a temporary basis. The treaty specifies 63 NAFTA occupations, includes information about the minimum qualifications required and the scope of permissible activity. Landed immigrants or permanent residents of Canada or Mexico do not qualify for TN.

Only professions with the minimum qualification requirements as specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty can serve as the basis for TN employment.  The foreign national must be a member of one of the professions listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 and must possess the minimum qualifications as listed in the Appendix.

The TN category allows for admission of individuals for the purposes of:

  • Working for a U.S. employer as a professional; or
  • Working for a foreign employer (including even a non-Canadian or non-Mexican employer) to provide pre-arranged professional services to a U.S. entity.

To be eligible to for TN status, the foreign national must satisfy the inspecting immigration officer upon entry that the stay is temporary in nature “without the intent to establish permanent residence.”

There is no cumulative total limit on the amount of time a Canadian or Mexican citizen can be in TN status. TN status can be renewed indefinitely in three year increments, provided that the stay remains temporary in nature.

Ending TN Status

TN status is tied to employment as outlined in the offer of employment presented at the port of entry into the US or on subsequent Form I-129 extensions. TN status ends when the employment ends. There is no grace period for departure for TN workers. Once employment ends, the TN scholar is required to depart the United States or file for a change of immigration status with USCIS.

It is important to report the final departure to ensure the accuracy of an individual’s immigration records and in order to preserve certain future immigration options. TN Scholars must complete a Departure Notice and submit it to the department and ISSS as soon as possible before departing the University. The departure information is needed in order to accurately report it to the various immigration and government agencies.