Process

Your company wishes to hire a Canadian or Mexican citizen to work as a ‘professional’. You know that the foreign worker is eligible but the process seems complicated. For your information, CLG has listed the steps in the process below.

A. Canadians

  1. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

    The petitioner files a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with TN Supplement (TN petition) on behalf of the foreign worker with the USCIS Vermont Service Center. After the TN petition is filed, the USCIS will issue a receipt notice. After reviewing the TN petition, the USCIS will issue a decision.

    Timing: Currently, the TN petition is decided (on average) within 3-6 months of filing.

    *The TN petition may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

  2. Customs and Border Protection

    Assuming that the foreign worker is outside the United States at the time of approval of the TN petition by the USCIS, s/he will present the approval to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry. The CBP officer will admit the foreign worker to the United States in TN status for a 3 year period. The CBP officer also issues a TD visa to any spouse and minor (under 21 and unmarried) child(ren) of the foreign worker. Upon issuance of the TN and TD visas, the foreign worker, spouse and any child(ren) enter the United States.

    The Canadian citizen may instead apply for TN status directly with the CBP at a Class ‘A’ land port of entry or United States pre-clearance station at an airport in Canada. The Canadian citizen does not file a TN petition but must provide a letter in support along with required documentation. Again, the CBP officer will admit the foreign worker to the United States in TN status for a 3 year period. The CBP officer also issues a TD visa to any spouse and minor (under 21 and unmarried) child(ren) of the foreign worker. Upon issuance of the TN and TD visas, the foreign worker, spouse and any child(ren) enter the United States.

    Timing: The TN visa is issued the same day.

  3. Change of Status in the United States by USCIS

    Assuming that the foreign worker had previously entered the United States legally pursuant to a valid nonimmigrant visa; that the TN petition was filed and approved prior to the foreign worker’s expiration of stay in the United States; and that the foreign worker did not depart the United States during the approval process, s/he may begin employment upon issuance of the approval notice. If the foreign worker then leaves the United States after beginning employment s/he must present the approval to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry when returning.

    Timing: Currently, the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with TN Supplement (form I-129) with request for a change of status is approved (on average) within 3-6 months of filing.

    *The Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with TN Supplement and request for a change of status may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

  4. Extension of Status in the United States by USCIS

    Assuming that the foreign worker had previously been issued a TN visa and that the new TN petition was filed prior to the expiration of the current TN visa, s/he may continue employment upon filing of the TN petition. If the foreign worker then leaves the United States after beginning employment and after approval of the TN petition, s/he must present the approval to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry when returning.

    Timing: Currently, the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with L Supplement (form I-129) with request for an extension of status is approved (on average) within 3-6 months of filing.

    *The Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with L Supplement and request for an extension of status may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

B. Mexicans

  1. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

    The petitioner files a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with TN Supplement (TN petition) on behalf of the foreign worker with the USCIS Vermont Service Center. After the TN petition is filed, the USCIS will issue a receipt notice. After reviewing the TN petition, the USCIS will issue a decision.

    Timing: Currently, the TN petition is decided (on average) within 3-6 months of filing.

    *The TN petition may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

  2. United States Embassy or Consulate

    Assuming that the foreign worker is outside the United States at the time of approval of the TN petition by the USCIS, s/he will proceed to the United States embassy or consulate in Mexico with the original approval notice, complete copy of the TN petition that was filed with the USCIS, a valid passport and confirmation of completion of form DS-160 and payment of the visa fee TN (and TD) visa fees (this is a link).

    At the interview, the consular officer will verify that all required documentation has been provided. Second, and more importantly, the consular officer may question the foreign worker in detail with respect to the specifics of the position and the U.S. company.

    If the consular officer is satisfied, the TN visa is approved and placed in the foreign worker’s passport. At that time, the United States embassy or consulate will also approve any TD visa application and place TD visa(s) in the foreign worker’s spouse and/or minor child(ren)’s passport(s).

    The Mexican citizen may instead apply for a TN visa directly with the United States consulate in Mexico. The Mexican citizen does not file a TN petition but must provide a letter in support along with required documentation. Again, the Mexican citizen completes form DS-160 online and the United States consulate conducts an interview and issues the foreign worker a TN visa valid for 3 years. The United States consulate also issues a TD visa to any spouse and minor (under 21 and unmarried) child(ren) of the foreign worker. Upon issuance of the TN and TD visas, the foreign worker, spouse and any child(ren) may enter the United States.

    Timing: Currently, the scheduling of the interview depends on the individual United States Embassy or Consulate.

  3. Change of Status in the United States by USCIS

    Assuming that the foreign worker had previously entered the United States legally pursuant to a valid nonimmigrant visa; that the TN petition was filed and approved prior to the foreign worker’s expiration of stay in the United States; and that the foreign worker did not depart the United States during the approval process, s/he may begin employment upon issuance of the approval notice. If the foreign worker then leaves the United States after beginning employment s/he must follow the United States Embassy or Consulate visa procedure before s/he can reenter the United States.

    Timing: Currently, the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with TN Supplement (form I-129) with request for a change of status is approved (on average) within 3-6 months of filing.

    *The Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with L Supplement and request for a change of status may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

  4. Extension of Status in the United States by USCIS

    Assuming that the foreign worker had previously been issued a TN visa and that the new TN petition was filed prior to the expiration of the current TN visa, s/he may continue employment upon filing of the TN petition. If the foreign worker then leaves the United States after beginning employment s/he must follow the United States Embassy or Consulate visa procedure before s/he can reenter the United States.

    Timing: Currently, the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with L Supplement (form I-129) with request for an extension of status is approved (on average) within 3-6 months of filing.

    *The Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with L Supplement and request for an extension of status may be filed along with a Premium Processing Request resulting in a decision being rendered in 15 calendar days.

Additional Questions?

If you have additional questions about the TN visa process, you may wish to read our TN visa FAQs.

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