Labor Immigration Law

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TN Articles

Admission of Mexican TN Workers

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain Canadian and Mexican professionals are allowed to enter the U.S. under the TN nonimmigrant classification to engage in certain TN-eligible occupations.   We wrote recently about Admission of TN Canadian Workers in the U.S.  This article is the second of the series and pertains to requirements and procedures for admission of Mexican TN workers in the U.S.

TN Admission Requirements

It is important to note that requirements for admission of Canadian and Mexican TN workers vary.   While a Canadian citizen TN worker may apply for TN classification at the border,  Mexican TN workers must first obtain a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate.     After obtaining a TN visa from the Consulate, a Mexican citizen may apply for admission in TN status at a U.S. Class A port-of-entry, at a U.S. airport handling international traffic, or at a U.S. pre-clearance/pre-flight station.

Visa Validity and Proper Period of Admission

A TN visa issued to a citizen of Mexico by a U.S. Consular officer is valid for a maximum of one year.  The TN visa validity limitation is required by the U.S. Department of State’s reciprocity schedule.   The validity of the TN visa, however, does not determine the period of time that a Mexican TN worker may be admitted in TN status — a Mexican TN worker may be admitted for a period of up to three years in TN status, provided that the passport will remain valid for the entire period.

A key document a Mexican TN worker should be ready to present is a TN support letter, prepared and issued by the intended US employer describing how the intended position and the employee qualify for TN status.

Not all Mexican TN workers are given a 3-year TN status, however.    If the intended employment is of shorter duration, as described in the TN employer support letter, the TN worker is likely to be given TN status only for the requested work period.

Conclusion

The requirement of a passport with sufficient validity and a proper TN employer support letter makes it important for Mexican TN workers to prepare a proper application for admission into the U.S. on TN status.   Unlike Canadian TN workers, Mexican TN workers must first go through the U.S. Consular visa application review process and often can document well their employment by the time they travel to the U.S. to seek admission on TN status.   Our office routinely handles Mexican TN worker applications and we are happy to assist with the preparation of proper TN visa application and admission paperwork.    Please feel free to contact us for assistance or with questions.

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Admission of Canadian TN Workers

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain Canadian and Mexican professionals are allowed to enter the U.S. under the TN nonimmigrant classification to engage in certain TN-eligible occupations.

TN Admission Requirements

It is important to note that requirements for admission of Canadian and Mexican TN workers vary.   A Canadian citizen TN worker may apply for TN classification at the border, while Mexican TN workers must first obtain a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate.     Because it is not necessary for citizens of Canada to obtain a TN visa stamp,  Canadian TN workers can seek admission as TN worker at a U.S. Class A port-of-entry, at a U.S. airport handling international traffic or at a U.S. pre-clearance/pre-flight station.

Proper Period of Admission

A citizen of Canada may be admitted to the U.S. in TN status for up to three years, assuming that the individual’s passport will remain valid throughout the admission period.     A key document a Canadian TN worker should be ready to present is a TN support letter, prepared and issued by the intended US employer describing how the intended position and the employee qualify for TN status.

Not all Canadian TN workers are given a 3-year TN stay, however.    If the intended employment is of shorter duration, as described in a TN employer support letter, the TN worker is likely to be given TN status for the requested work period.

Conclusion

The requirement of a passport with sufficient validity and a proper TN employer support letter makes it important for Canadian TN workers to prepare a proper application for admission into the U.S. on TN status.   Our office routinely handles emergency calls from would-be-TN Canadian workers who are held at the border due to irregularity with their employer support letter or related documents.   We are happy to assist with the preparation of proper TN admission paperwork.    Please feel free to contact us for assistance or with questions.

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TN Visa Period Extended to Three (3) Years

USCIS has announced that the maximum period of time a TN visa holder can remain in the U.S. from one (1) year to three (3) years.  The TN initial period is now equal to the three (3) year initial period of admission granted to H-1B holders.

About the TN Visa

The TN nonimmigrant classification is visa category available to eligible Mexicans and Canadians ith at least a bachelor’s degree or appropriate professional credentials who work in certain qualified fields pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Qualified professions identified within NAFTA include, but are not limited to, accountants, engineers, attorneys, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.  There is no annual cap for the TN visa and during fiscal year 2006, there were a total of 74,098 TN admissions into the U.S.

About the Three-year Extension

This improvement to the TN nonimmigrant category was initially announced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on Aug. 10, 2007 and we wrote about the proposed rule in May.

One of the biggest criticisms of the TN visa’s one (1) year period was the continuing need to travel in and out of the U.S. to obtain extensions.  This has caused a great deal of lost productivity and inconvenience for employers and employees alike.  This final rule will ease administrative burdens and costs on TN workers. It will also benefit U.S. employers by increasing the amount of time TN nonimmigrants will be able to work for them before having to seek an extension of status. Spouses and unmarried minor children of TN nonimmigrants in their corresponding nonimmigrant classifications will also benefit from the new regulation.

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TN Visa Period Extension Proposed

The USCIS announced yesterday that it is publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to increase the maximum amount of time a TN visa holder can remain in the U.S. before seeking readmission or extension of stay from one year to three years. The goal behind the proposed rule is to provide TN visa holders similar visa terms as other skilled worker visas, such as H-1B.

Under the current regulations, TN visa holders must seek extensions or readmission every year. While in many circumstances such extension or readmission is without issues, TN visa holders often complain of the cumbersome yearly readmission requirements to which H-1B or L-1 visa holders are not subject. The new rule seeks to address these concerns and provide more certainty and uniformity among skilled professional visa categories.

The NPRM, once implemented as a final rule, will provide a number of benefits to all stakeholders. TN visa holders will not have to travel outside of the U.S. or seek extension every year thus saving money and time. U.S. employers will have greater certainty that TN beneficiaries will be allowed longer terms. Finally, the USCIS will have a reduced work load due to the decreased number of TN visa extensions.

Update: an advance copy of the proposed rule can be found here.

About the TN Visa. Canadian and Mexican citizens seeking temporary entry to the United States as professionals may come into the country as TN nonimmigrants under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). TN status is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, or appropriate professional credentials, who work in professions listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 to Annex 1603 of the NAFTA and under DHS regulations at 8 CFR 214.6(c). Eligible TN professions include, but are not limited to, accountants, engineers, attorneys, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.

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