About TN Status

The TN status was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to facilitate Canadian and Mexican citizens to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. It allows admission for the following purposes:

  • Working for a United States employer as a professional
  • Working for a foreign employer, including a non-Canadian or non-Mexican employer, to provide pre-arranged professional services to a U.S. employer

Only occupations specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty can serve as the basis for TN employment. Appendix 1603.D.1 also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation.

Eligibility 

To be eligible for TN status, a potential employee must:

  • Be a citizen of Canada or Mexico; landed immigrants and permanent residents of Canada and Mexico do not qualify
  • Be employed (part-time or full-time) in a position listed on the TN Occupations List
  • Possess the minimum qualifications for that position, as listed on the TN Occupations List
  • Have plans for a temporary stay; longer-term positions such as tenure-track faculty positions are not appropriate for TN status

Duration

TNs can be admitted to the United States for up to three years initially and are eligible for extensions of stay in up to three-year increments. TN status can be renewed indefinitely, provided that the position remains temporary in nature. However, it is worth noting that it can become increasingly difficult for the TN to prove that the stay will be temporary the longer they remain in the U.S. Therefore, if a position is longer term, it may be more advisable to apply for another status, such as H-1B, on the individual’s behalf.

TN is a nonimmigrant status. This means that in order to be eligible for TN status an individual must have intentions of returning to their home country when the U.S. employment is finished. If, instead, the intention is for the individual to apply for permanent residency and remain in the U.S. permanently, TN status is not appropriate.

Employment

While in the United States, a TN is only permitted to be employed in the position outlined in the departmental letter presented during his initial visa appointment and/or entry. They may not accept jobs with other employers or be self-employed in TN status. If the job details will change significantly from what is listed in the departmental letter, it will become necessary to apply for an amendment to the TN status. This can be done by mail or by travel.

Dependents

Dependents of TNs hold Trade Dependent (TD) status. In order to apply for TD status, an individual must be the spouse or minor child of a TN and must have documentation to prove such (i.e., marriage or birth certificate). TDs may not work, but may study part-time or full-time.

For more details or to discuss bringing an Illinois Institute of Technology employee in TN status, please contact the International Center scholar adviser directly.