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TN Visa – Canadian & Mexican Professional Workers

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  • Canadian or Mexican citizens may enter the U.S. for temporary employment appointments based on provisions that appear in the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA formerly North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

    The nonimmigrant Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, to work in the United States in allowed professional activities listed in Chapter 16 Appendix 2 of the USMCA.  

    The status can be approved for up to 3 years at a time. Extensions can be approved in increments of up to 3 years. There is no statutory limit on how long an international employee can be in TN status.  International employees in TN status must have the intention to leave the US upon completion of their assignment. 

    For any additional questions, please email ICS at HR-ICS@ufl.edu 

    Eligibility

    International employees must be citizens of Canada or Mexico. 

    The position must meet the requirements of the TN professional activity list To determine if a university position meets the requirements for TN sponsorship, review the Temporary Entry for Business Persons – USMCA Chapter 16 – USMCA | United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement The international employee must meet the qualifications of the position as listed in USMCA  

    The position must be temporary. 

    Types of Cases

    USCIS Approved TN status

    The original TN approval notice is valid for employment. The international employee will receive a new I-94 form that is attached to the bottom of the TN Approval Notice. Mexican citizens will need to apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. consular post the next time they travel internationally.  Canadian citizens are visa exempt.

    Process to apply for TN visa at Port of Entry/Pre-Flight Inspection (Canadian citizens only):

    International employees depart the US and presents themselves to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the border or port of entry.  The actual TN period is solely up to the discretion of the CBP Officer.  Along with the TN support letter, the international employee should be prepared to present additional documents to the CBP Officer processing their entry

    Process to apply for TN visa at the US Embassy/Consulate (Mexican citizens only):

    Each US Consulate/Embassy has their own set of requirements for processing a non-immigrant visa application.  Please go to the respective U.S. Consulate/Embassy’s website for information on the requirements.  Make sure to follow all of the instructions.

    All non-immigrant visa applicants will need to go to https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ and complete the online application, Form DS-160 (the application for a nonimmigrant visa).   

    Process & Timeline
    TN visas can be processed through US Consulates/Embassies in Mexico and at the port of entry or through pre-flight inspection in Canada.  USCIS filing and filing fees are not necessary.

    Step 1:  Department completes and submits case initiation in Fragomen Portal

    The department will be responsible for gathering all the information and documentation and initiating the case in the Fragomen Portal

    Step 2: ICS Review and analysis of case initiation questionnaire (1 to 2 weeks)

    ICS will perform a review of the information and documentation provided.  We will reach out to the department with any questions.  Once the application is complete, ICS approves and submits the questionnaire to Fragomen.

    Step 3:  Preparation of the TN Petition (2 to 3 weeks)

    If processing the petition by departing the US, Fragomen will prepare the TN support letter.  ICS reviews the letter and forwards it to the department for signature.

    Step 4:  Departing the US to process the TN visa

    For Canadian citizens:  International employees depart the US and presents themselves to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the border or port of entry.  The actual TN period is solely up to the discretion of the CBP Officer. Along

    with the TN support letter, the international employee should be prepared to present additional documents to the CBP Officer processing their entry:

    • Original Canadian passport
    • Academic credentials (diploma, transcript and/or academic credential evaluation) – the CBP Office may request to see original documents
    • Current CV or resume

    For Mexican citizens:  International employees schedule a visa appointment at the US Consulate/Embassy in Mexico.  Please go to the respective U.S. Consulate/Embassy’s website for information on the requirements. Make sure to follow all of the instructions.

    All non-immigrant visa applicants will need to go to https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ and complete the online application, Form DS-160 (the application for a nonimmigrant visa).  It is up to the discretion of the consular officer whether to approve the TN visa or not.  If approved, the international employee’s passport will be returned to them by the US Consular/Embassy with a TN visa stamp.

    The international employee will not be in valid TN status until entering the US and presenting their passport containing the TN visa stamp.  International employees may enter the US as early as 10 days prior to the approved start date.

    Step 5:  Approval

    If approved, the international employee will enter the US in TN status.  Canadian citizens are visa exempt.  Upon entry, the international employee must provide the department a copy of their TN visa stamp or admission stamp and their electronic I-94. The department must forward copies of these documents to ICS.

    Filing for the TN visa through USCIS

    Step 1:  Department completes and submits case initiation in Fragomen Portal

    The department will be responsible for gathering all the information and documentation and initiating the case in the Fragomen Connect Portal.

    Step 2: ICS Review and analysis of case initiation questionnaire (1 to 2 weeks)

    ICS will perform a review of the information and documentation provided.  We will reach out to the department with any questions.  Once the application is complete, ICS approves and submits the questionnaire to Fragomen.

    Step 3:  Preparation of the TN Petition (2 to 3 weeks)

    If processing the petition through a filing with USCIS Fragomen will prepare the USCIS filing to Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and supporting documents.  ICS reviews and signs the petition and returns to Fragomen for filing.

    Step 4:  USCIS Processes TN (15 days to 12 months)

    The current processing times for TN petitions filed with USCIS is 8 to 12 months.  USCIS does post processing time information on their website, but that may not always be the most up to date information. 

    Under “Premium Processing,” USCIS will adjudicate (i.e., approve, deny, or issue a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) the petition within 15 calendar days. 

    Step 5:  Approval Notice (1 to 2 weeks)

    The original approval notices are sent from USCIS to Fragomen.  Fragomen notifies ICS when they receive the notice as well as forwarding the original notice to our office.  Once ICS receives the approval notices, we email the department with information on collecting the original notice.

    Fees

    Port of Entry/Pre-flight Inspection/Consulate Processing filing fees:

    TN Filing Fee – required, this is substantially less than USCIS filing fees

    Fragomen legal fees:

    • $1,000 Fragomen legal fee for case processing
    • Request for Evidence response fees: determined at time of RFE
    • Additional Rush fees – cases submitted with less than a certain number of days until the requested start date are subject to additional Rush fees. Rush fees are an employer fee. Cases requiring Rush fees should be discussed with ICS prior to initiation submission.

    USCIS filing fees:

    • TN Filing Fee – required
    • Premium Processing (PPS) fee – required for new to UF TN petitions
      • Why PPS? Under Premium Processing, USCIS will adjudicate the petition within 15 days of them receipting the petition. Adjudication can be one of 3 actions: approval, denial, or request for evidence (RFE).  In the event of an RFE, the 15-day count starts over after the response to the RFE is received.

    Fragomen legal fees:

    • $1,000 Fragomen legal fee for case processing
    • Request for Evidence response fees: determined at time of RFE
    • Additional Rush fees – cases submitted with less than (# of days) of processing until the requested start date are subject to additional Rush fees. Rush fees are an employer fee. Cases requiring Rush fees should be discussed with ICS prior to initiation submission.
    • Additional service provided – if needed, Fragomen will advance the filing fees for the department. There is an additional $100.00 processing fee if you use this service.

    For more detailed information on fees, please refer to the “ICS Fees and Rush Chart” link under the Resources section on our website.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long can an international employee be in TN status?

    There is no maximum an international employee can be in TN status. The TN status is initially valid for up to 3 years and can be extended in up to 3 year increments.

    How soon after filing a TN petition with USCIS can an international employee start to work?

    Change of Status inside the US – An international employee can begin working on TN status once the department has the approval notice in hand and the start date as occurred. If the international employee is currently working at UF under another status (J-1 or F-1 OPT) they can continue to work under that status until the TN status is approved and the start date is effective or that other status ends, whichever occurs FIRST.

    • Change of Employer inside the US – If the international employee is already in TN status with another employer, UF policy states the international employee may begin to work once the department has received the electronic approval email from USCIS. It is not advisable to leave their prior employment too soon.
    • Amendment inside the US– If the international employee is changing employment conditions (title, duties, full time equivalency, worksite in a different county), they may begin work once Fragomen submits the petition to USCIS, and the requested start date has occurred.
    What if the international employee’s job responsibilities change or they have to switch from one job location to another?

    If the international employee has a material change in job responsibilities (including promotions, FTE, etc.) and/or there is a change in location, UF will need to file an amended TN petition on their behalf.  Any change in job location or job duties should be brought to the attention of their department liaison, prior to accepting the change in employment. The amendment will need to be filed with USCIS or processed through the international employee’s home country prior to any changes in their employment. If processed inside the US, the international employee can begin the new working conditions once the petition is submitted to USCIS and the requested start date has occurred.

    How is TN status extended?

    TN extensions can be filed with USCIS up to 6 months before the expiration date of the current TN status. The international employee can also extend their status through their home country. ICS will need additional time to review and process the application.  If an extension application to continue the international employee’s current TN employment is filed with USCIS prior to expiration of the current authorized stay, the international employee may be eligible for continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending. 

    Can an international employee continue working if their TN Extension has not been approved by USCIS by the time their current TN expires?

    If an extension application to continue an international employee’s current TN employment is filed prior to expiration of the current authorized stay, they may be eligible for continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending. 

    How does an international employee or department check the status of a case after it has been filed with USCIS?

    USCIS allows you to check the status of a case by using their online Case Status tool. Please utilize this link to track the status of your application : Case Status Online – Case Status Search (uscis.gov)

    When will the international employee receive their I-797 Approval Notice?

    Once USCIS approves the international employee’s petition, they will forward the I-797 Approval Notice to Fragomen. Please note that it can take anywhere from several days to several weeks for USCIS to mail the approval notice to Fragomen. Once Fragomen receives the approval notice, they will prepare an approval packet and send it to ICS via FedEx. Once received, ICS will notify the department to pick up the original approval notice. The department will then forward the approval notice to the international employee.

    When should the department request the filing fee checks?

    Since checks are only valid for 6 months, please request the checks no earlier than 6 months prior to the desired start date.

    Who are the filing fee checks made out to?

    The filing fee checks should be made payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services 24000 Avila RD RM 2302 Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 United States

    Can an international employee get paid for outside conferences and/or complete work outside of their TN?

    A TN employee is not permitted to accept payment for any activity or services rendered outside of the approved TN.

    Can an international employee pursue green card while on TN?

    No. While on TN status, an international employee has to have the intent to depart the US. There is no dual intent while in TN status. If an international employee were to apply for permanent residency, they can have problems when trying to extend their TN status, such as their extension getting denied. An international employee can also have problems with traveling outside the US, such as being denied entry.

    Can a TD dependent work?

    No. TD dependents are not eligible for work authorization.

    Can a TD dependent volunteer?

    It depends. A TD cannot volunteer for a for-profit company. A TD can volunteer for a nonprofit or local organization where everybody would in a similar position of volunteering and as long as the work would not otherwise be paid.

    TDs cannot volunteer at UF.

    Can a TD dependent attend school?

    Yes. TD dependents may attend school.

    How long can a dependent child be in TD status?

    An unmarried child can be in TD status as long as they are under the age of 21 and their parent is maintaining their TN status.