Definition and Eligibility
Under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Canadian and Mexican professionals may apply to enter the U.S. in Trade NAFTA (TN) non-immigrant status. The TN process for Canadian and Mexican professionals is similar with only one minor exception: Mexican nationals coming to the U.S. in TN nonimmigrant status must apply for a TN-2 visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate before entering the U.S. in TN-2 non-immigrant status, whereas Canadian nationals do not require a visa stamp but simply apply at a preflight inspections area or port of entry for permission to enter the U.S. in TN non-immigrant status. TN non-immigrant status is granted in one-year increments with unlimited renewals, requires no forms to be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to entry, and is obtained when applied for at the port of entry or pre-flight inspection center (for Canadian Nationals) or at the U.S. Consulate and subsequent entry at a port of entry (for Mexican Nationals).
TN status is granted for only one employer at a time for a specific type of work. For multiple employers, multiple TN applications must be filed. TN status is employer- and job-specific; the employee may only work for the employer who issued the TN invitation letter or filed the TN petition and can only perform the job indicated in the letter/petition (concurrent employment is possible if each employer has an approved TN petition).
Requirements for TN status:
- Canadian or Mexican citizenship. Landed immigrants or permanent residents of Mexico or Canada do not qualify.
- Evidence that the intended U.S. employment and the applicant qualify under Schedule 2 of NAFTA. See Appendix 1603.D.1 for a list of qualifying occupations and required credentials.
- Applicant must intend to engage in employment at a professional level. The employment must be prearranged by a U.S. company or institution.
- A letter from the U.S. employer detailing the nature of the employment.
Employer Letter/Contract Necessary to Prove Nature of Employment:
- Exact job title and corresponding profession it relates to as listed on the Approved list of TN Professions (Appendix 1603.D.1; see above);
- Detailed description of job duties;
- Rate of pay, including benefits and any potential bonuses;
- How long services are required, not to exceed one year, with statement that employment is temporary;
- Hours projected to work (i.e. 35 hours/week)
- Background on institution, establishing that Morehouse School of Medicine is an existing institution, to include how long the institution has been in existence.
Document Checklist for TN Application:
- Employment contract/letter from U.S. employer (see above)
- Proof of Canadian or Mexican Citizenship: Original Passport and/or Birth Certificate for Canadians; Original Passport only for Mexicans
- Originals or certified copies of school records, diplomas, licenses, degrees, certificates or membership in professional organizations; or transcripts showing an appropriate degree (bachelor's degree or higher) from a recognized college or university; a statement of U.S. equivalency might be required.
- If a license is necessary in the U.S. state where employment is located (i.e., C.P.A., lawyer, nurse, medical technologist, etc.), then applicant must provide proof of possession of a license to be able to practice in the U.S. or an explanation in employer's cover letter regarding why the applicant does not need to be licensed to perform services in a particular state.
- $50.00 (cash or money order) for Canadian citizens who apply at a preflight inspections area or U.S. port of entry; Mexican citizens will pay the standard fees associated with a visa application at the U.S. Consulate and will not be charged additional fees at the port of entry to the U.S.
While a person in TN status can later apply for permanent resident status based on the same U.S. employment, at the time of the TN application, the applicant cannot intend to remain in the U.S. permanently. There must be no strike or lockout at proposed worksite. If there is, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCBP) may deny the entry.
Extension of Stay
An extension of stay for Canadian Nationals can be obtained either by returning to Canada and reapplying for admission in the TN classification (they will be given a new one-year period of admission at the port of entry or pre-flight inspection center) OR by having Morehouse School of Medicine file Form I-129 to extend TN status while remaining inside the U.S. Mexican Nationals may extend TN non-immigrant status by either returning to Mexico and reapplying for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate, OR by having Morehouse School of Medicine file Form I-129 to extend TN status while remaining inside the U.S.
The spouse and unmarried minor (under age 21) children of a TN worker are granted TD immigration status. Dependents of Mexican Nationals must apply for a TD visa before entering the U.S. in TD non-immigrant status. Dependents of Canadians who are Canadian citizens need not apply for a TD visa stamp before entering and may simply apply for such status upon entry to the U.S. at a preflight inspections area or landed port of entry to the U.S. Dependents of Canadians who are Canadian landed immigrants must apply to a U.S. consulate for a TD visa. Dependents will be admitted to the U.S. for the period of time coinciding with the TN's period of stay. Dependents entering the U.S. following the TN worker should present a certified copy of the worker's I-94 and a supporting letter from the employer. Dependents in TD status are not eligible for employment but are allowed to attend school in TD status.