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TN Status for Canadian (TN-1) and Mexican (TN-2) Nationals

* Commitment Statement
UC International Services Commitment Statement regarding employment petitions and Permanent Residence processes
Main Procedural Step: Apply at the U.S./Canadian border (Canadian Nationals)
Apply at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy (Mexican Nationals)
Initial duration of status: Three year maximum
Total time-limit cap on category: No time limitation
Major advantage: Quick processing; no DHS applications required
Major disadvantage: Not all professions qualify; position cannot be permanent


TN Application Process

Step I: The hiring Department must:

  1. Submit the TN Form in iStart.
  2. Prepare a letter signed by the Head of the Department addressed to the employee stating the dates of the employment requested for the TN status (not to exceed 3 years in duration), the salary being offered, and a description of job duties which demonstrate that the job requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study.
  3. A letter to Homeland Security describing how the employment qualifies for TN status.
  4. A check made out to the Department of Homeland Security for $325.00 (if the applicant is in the U.S. and does not plan to obtain TN status at the border).  An additional check for $1,225.00 would be necessary if premium processing is being requested.



STEP II: The prospective employee must submit the following with the eForm request:

  1. A copy of highest diploma and related transcripts.
    If the degree is NOT from a university in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia, an evaluation of the equivalent U.S. degree must be submitted. A list of companies that prepare credential evaluations is attached. An acceptable evaluation should:
    1. Consider formal education only, not practical training experience;
    2. state if the collegiate training was post secondary education, i.e., did the applicant complete the United States equivalent of high school studies before entering college;
    3. provide a detailed explanation of the materials evaluated, rather than a simple conclusive statement;
    4. briefly state the qualifications and experience of the evaluator providing the opinion.
  2. Personal information such as:
    a) Curriculum vitae;
    b) Copies of all current immigration documents (passport, visa, I-94 card) if the employee will not be applying for the TN at the border. You need to submit a photocopy of the front and back of your I-94 if your most recent entry to the U.S. was prior to April 30, 2013. If your most recent entry occurred after April 30, 2013, print out an electronic copy of the I-94 at http://www.cbp.gov/i94.
    c) If applying from within the U.S. and the applicant has dependents, Form I-539 and copies of all current immigration documents (passport, visa, I-94 card) for dependents. See above for instructions on the I-94 card.


STEP III: Upon receipt of the eForm and all documentation listed in Steps I and II, UC International Services will:

  1. Prepare the I-129 application if the employee will not be travelling to the border/embassy to obtain TN status.
  2. Send the employee instructions for check-in and onboarding if obtaining TN status at the border.

Under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Canadian and Mexican professionals may apply to enter the U.S. under the TN visa classification. The TN process does not require U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) certification of a Labor Condition Application or prior approval by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of any petition. The result is that qualifying Canadian nationals trained in one of a published list of professions may obtain TN-1 visa status and enter the U.S. in one day by applying at the U.S. port-of-entry. Mexican nationals must first apply for a TN-2 visa at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy. New applications for/or extensions of the TN status can also be filed with the USCIS by mail using form I-129, and are processed in 2-4 months (unless premium processing is paid for).

Advantages of TN-1 Status

  1. Granted in three year increments, with unlimited renewals.
  2. No forms are required. TN status can be obtained in person at the U.S. border (Canadians) or at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy (Mexican nationals).
  3. TN status is available to some people who may not qualify for H-1B status.

Requirements for TN-1 Status

  1. Proof of Canadian/Mexican citizenship. Canadian Landed Immigrants and non-Canadian citizens must apply for H-1B status.
  2. Evidence that the intended U.S. employment and the applicant quality under Schedule 2 of NAFTA. (A list of professionals who qualify under Chapter 15, Schedule 2, of NAFTA is provided in the following pages.)
  3. Applicants must intend to engage in employment at a professional level. The employment must be prearranged by a U.S. company or institution.
  4. A letter from the U.S. employer detailing the nature of the employment. 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.
  5. Self-employed professionals are precluded from obtaining TN status, and the USCIS has advised its field offices that E-2, treaty investor classification may be the appropriate alternative for these types of professionals.

Documents Necessary to Prove Nature of Employment

  1. A letter from U.S. employer detailing nature of employment in U.S. (See sample letter attached).
  2. The employment must be temporary. A letter from U.S. employer stating that employment is temporary. A person on TN status can later apply for permanent resident status based on the same U.S. employment. However, at the time of the TN application, the applicant cannot intend to remain in the United States permanently.
  3. There must be no strike or lockout at proposed worksite. If there is, the USCIS may deny the entry or employment.

Documents Necessary to Prove Applicant’s Qualifications

  1. 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 university or college; a statement of U.S. equivalency might be required.
  2. If a license is necessary in the U.S. state where employment is located (i.e., C.P.A., lawyer, professional engineer, etc.), then applicant must provide proof of possession of a license to be able to practice in the U.S. or an explanation in petitioner’s covering letter regarding why the beneficiary does not need to be licensed to perform services in the particular state.
  3. USCIS will approve an unlicensed applicant who will be under the direct supervision of licensed personnel. (This occurs only in professions that customarily permit members to practice under these conditions.)

TN-1 (Treaty NAFTA) Checklist for Canadian Professionals when Crossing the Border

  1. Proof of Canadian/Mexican citizenship: Original Passport and/or Birth Certificate.
  2. TN-2 visa stamp (for Mexican nationals only).
  3. Employment contract from U.S. Employer - detailing position responsibilities and employment dates (please note: employment must be on a temporary basis).
  4. Professional license or certification (if applicable).
  5. $56.00 customs fee (Canadian nationals only-Mexican nationals pay a $131 visa application fee).
  6. Evidence of academic qualifications: Diploma (copy and original).
  7. Export Control Issues
    When hiring someone on TN status UC is required to certify the receipt of various export control regulations to determine whether an export license is required before controlled technology or technical data is released to a foreign national during the course of their employment. In response to this regulation hiring departments will be required to complete a "Checklist for Export Control Issues For Hiring International Workers" form and submit the form as part of the TN process. The form will need to be certified at the Department/Division Head level.

NOTE: TN status may be obtained at any U.S. Port of Entry along the Canadian/Mexican border. Some border crossing posts are more experienced with the TN-1 status than others. It is always better to have too much documentation than too little. Original documents should be presented whenever possible.