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TN Status for Citizens of Canada and Mexico

The United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA), previously known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Mexico and Canada. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Mexican and Canadian citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.

TN status is employer and position specific. This means that employees in TN status may only be engaged in the activities described in the TN documentation. Each temporary entry or extension of TN status is available in three-year increments with no maximum number of entries or extensions. TN physicians cannot principally practice medicine but may have patient care activities incidental to teaching and/or research.

Permanent residents/landed immigrants of Mexico or Canada are not able to apply for TN visas to work as TN professionals.

Unlike H1B, TN is a non-immigrant status which does not allow for dual intent. TN applicants must prove that their entry to the US will be temporary.

Qualifying for TN Status - Employment Start Dates - TN Extensions - Requests for Change or Addition of Employers - Notifying DHS of a Change of Address - Spouse and Dependent Children (TD Status)


Citizens of Mexico or Canada may work in the USA in TN status under the following conditions:

  • TN Profession is on the USMCA List of Professionals;
  • Mexican or Canadian citizen meets the qualifications of the professional position at UMass Chan;
  • Mexican or Canadian citizen will work, full or part-time, for a U.S. employer. Self employment is not permitted

Procedures for Mexican Citizens
Mexican citizens applying for TN status must first obtain a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy, and then make application for entry to the United States at the U.S./Mexican border in order to be granted TN status. For an Embassy or Consulate request, the applicant will need to present the following:

    1. Valid, unexpired Mexican passport;
    2. Completed DS-160 Online Visa Application;
    3. Education documents- documents not issued in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. Additionally, any degree earned outside of the U.S., Mexico or Canada must accompanied by an academic equivalency evaluation;
    4. UMass Chan TN support letter issued by the ISO;
    5. Updated CV; and
    6. Payment of MRV and reciprocity fees.

Procedures for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens have two options for acquiring TN status at a U.S. port-of-entry or pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station:

    1. Establish eligibility for TN status at the time of seeking admission to the United States, by presenting required documentation to a *CBP Officer at a pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection. These documents include:

      1. Canadian passport;
      2. UMass Chan TN support letter issued by the ISO;
      3. Education documents. Documents not issued in English need to be accompanied by a certified English translation. Additionally, any degree earned outside of the U.S., Mexico or Canada must be accompanied by an academic equivalency evaluation;
      4. Updated CV; and
      5. $50 application fee

    2. Alternatively, a prospective TN employer may choose to file a Form I-129 petition with USCIS on behalf of the Canadian citizen who is outside the United States. Once the I-129 is approved, the Canadian citizen would then apply to CBP for admission as a TN nonimmigrant by providing the I-797 approval notice and copies of the I-129 supporting documents to CBP at the port of entry or pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.

In September 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection designated ports of entry (POEs) for optimized processing of first-time Canadian applicants for admission in the TN or L-1 categories. You can find the list of POEs here.

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Mexican and Canadian TNs cannot begin working for a TN employer until they are in TN status. That is when the individual actually is admitted to the U.S. in TN status for a particular employer, or when the I-129 petition and accompanying status change is approved, once the start date on the petition is reached.

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Extension at a Port of Entry

    • Mexican citizens may request an extension of TN status by re-applying for a new TN visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and re-entering the US following the same procedures outlined earlier for Mexican citizens. The ISO will provide an updated support letter and the applicant should bring an updated CV as well as all other documentation used for the initial visa application and entry.

    • Canadian citizens can request an extension of TN status by re-applying at a POE with the same documentation that was required for initial entry. The ISO will provide the applicant with an updated letter in support and applicant should also make sure to bring an updated CV. All other documentation should be the same from the initial request: Canadian passport, education documents and $50 application fee.

Extension at a Service Center
If an application for extension of TN status is received in a timely manner by USCIS, an individual can continue working for the same employer for up to 240 days while the application is pending. Timely filing is normally interpreted as filing with USCIS prior to the expiration of the current authorized period of TN status. Please discuss with your ISO Specialist, the process to extend your TN status in the U.S., at least 6 months in advance of your TN status end date.

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TN status holders may change jobs, or have more than one job, but since TN status is employer and employment-specific, the USCIS must approve all new employment prior to its commencement. There are two ways of changing or adding TN employers:

  1. Filing a Form I-129 with USCIS; or
  2. Exiting and reentering the United States with documentation from the new or additional employer.

Before making any changes to employment, please discuss this with the ISO.

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TN visa holders are required to notify the USCIS when there is a change in address. The law specifies that within 10 days of moving, you are required to report your change of address to USCIS by filing a Form AR-11 online. Compliance with this rule is a condition of your stay in the United States. Failure to comply could have severe consequences on your ability to obtain a future visa or other immigration benefits. You may file Form AR-11 online. 

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Dependents are defined as a spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21. Dependents of TN professionals may qualify for the TD dependent status. TD dependents may study but may not engage in any employment activities while in the US in TD status.

TD Applications by Canadian Passport Holders at the Port-of-Entry
Canadian citizens do not need visas. They may either apply for TD status at the same time as the TN or bring a copy of the TN's I-94 record and UMass Chan support letter when presenting themselves and their valid Canadian passport for admission to the US in TD status. No fee is required to request TD status at the port-of-entry, though a small $6 I-94 processing fee may be required if entering the US by land.

Note: A dependent of a Mexican citizen TN who holds an unexpired Canadian passport does not need to apply for a TD visa.

Mexican Nationals and Non-Canadian Citizens Must Apply for a TD Visa to Enter the U.S.
Dependents of Canadian or Mexican TN professionals who do not themselves hold an unexpired Canadian passport, must apply for and obtain a TD visa at a US Embassy or Consulate prior to admission to the U.S.

Dependents may apply for their TD visa at the same time as the TN, or may apply at a later date, after the TN has entered the US. Their visa application should include:

    1. The TN's UMass Chan letter in support,
    2. A copy of the TN's I-94 record (if the TN is already in the US),
    3. A copy of the marriage or birth certificate along with certified English translation if not in English.

When they present themselves for admission to the U.S., they should show these same documents in addition to their visa.

Note: A dependent of a Canadian citizen TN who holds landed immigrant status in Canada but does not hold an unexpired Canadian passport must obtain a TD visa.

Note: A dependent of a Mexican or Canadian citizen TN who is not themselves a citizen or landed immigrant of either Canada or Mexico may still apply for a TD visa.

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