TN status

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TN (Treaty NAFTA) status is a special non-immigrant status in the United States unique to citizens of Canada and Mexico. Beginning in 1988, individuals practising one of the professions identified in the Canada - United States Free Trade Agreement are able to obtain TN status for legal work in the United States and Canada, creating freedom of labor movement. TN status is recognized in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which began in 1994. It allows U.S., Canadian and Mexican citizens the opportunity to work in each other's countries in certain professional occupations. It bears a similarity, in some ways, to the H-1B visa, but also has many unique features. Within the TN set of occupations, an American, Canadian or Mexican can work for up to three years[1] at a time. However, the TN status may be renewed indefinitely in three-year increments, although it is not a 'permanent' visa and if US immigration officials suspect it is being used as a de facto green card, they may elect to deny further renewals. The set of occupations permitted to petition for TN status is also quite a bit more limited than for the H-1B visa.[2]

Spouse and dependent children of a TN professional can be admitted into the United States in the TD status.

Canadian citizens in the United States[edit]

For Canadians, TN status does not involve a visa. Canadian professionals are admitted into the USA in the TN-1 status at the border. Applying for this status is a fairly streamlined procedure. The Canadian must first obtain proof of a job offer, in the form of an employment letter detailing employment for not more than three years, and documentation (often in the form of a university degree and/or evidence of former employment) in the occupation area. This paperwork is then brought to the border (most commonly it is done upon entry to the USA from Canada, but entry in TN status is permitted at any port of entry), along with proof of Canadian citizenship and the $50 fee (plus an additional $6 at a land or sea crossing; this is included in airline tickets when arriving by air). The US immigration officer will then adjudicate the application on the spot and grant or deny TN status. If the decision is to grant TN status, the Canadian immediately enters the US and begins TN employment. If the decision is to deny, the immigration officer will often detail the shortcomings in the application; if these are relatively straightforward to correct, the Canadian will often correct the problem in a day or so and then return to the border to reapply.

Certain TN status categories are known to be more difficult than others. For example, 'Management Consultant' applicants will often be scrutinized closely to determine if they will really be serving as consultants, or are in practice simply 'managers'. (The latter is generally not allowed under TN status.) Similarly, 'Computer Systems Analysts' will often have their applications carefully examined to ensure that their qualifications and job duties truly rise to the level of Computer Systems Analyst, and that they are not in practice simply serving as computer programmers.

Once TN status is granted, it is good for three years[citation needed], but only for the specific employer for which it was originally requested. Changing employers will require the Canadian to return to the border and start from scratch with a new application. If employment with a single employer is desired for more than three years, it may be renewed indefinitely. Renewal is accomplished either by a mail-in renewal within the United States, or by returning to the border and, in effect, presenting a new application. Renewal is possible, in theory, indefinitely, but the TN status is not a substitute for permanent residency (a green card), and the border official has the discretion to refuse further renewals if she feels the ability for indefinite renewal is being abused. How this happens in practice depends largely on the mood of the individual border official. Some Canadians have successfully renewed TN status for a decade or more; others have found that after 3–4 years a border official denies further renewals.

Canadian citizenship for TN status purposes may be by descent or naturalization. Those with qualifications from sources outside Canada or the U.S. must prove equivalency to the U.S. requirements. There is no appeal recourse if one is refused TN status.

Income tax requirements[edit]

Canadian TN status workers are responsible for US Medicare, State, Federal and Social Security taxes work in the US. US TN status workers in Canada are also subject to corresponding income tax liabilities and end-of-year filing of returns in Canada. In general, there will be income tax liabilities in accordance to where the employee works regardless of where legal or physical residence is maintained during employment. This is much like US citizens who live in one state but work in another who are then subject to state income and other taxes in the state in which they work. If their legal residence is still in their home country, workers may also be required to file a return in their home country. Based on income tax treaties, credit is normally available in the home country for income and other payroll taxes paid in the foreign country. Bilateral treaties exist to allow workers to regain benefits. For example, credits for contributions into the US Social Security system for years worked in the US may be transferred to the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security eligibility with the proper paperwork under what is known in the US as a Totalization Agreement.[3]

Comparison to H-1B visa[edit]

TN status has some similarities with the H-1B visa. TN status may be easier for some Canadians or Mexicans to obtain, as they are not subject to the annual cap for H-1B visas issued. However, because the TN status is adjudicated at the border, TN status can also be revoked at any time at the border (if a Canadian is re-entering the US), even if it is not up for renewal. Thus it is important to be sure that any application is perfectly airtight. But the most important difference is that TN status does not include the doctrine of dual intent. Therefore, Canadians or Mexicans on TN status must be careful if they desire to ultimately pursue the green card. Either they should first switch to the H-1B visa before applying for the green card, or they must carefully time things to ensure they do not attempt to renew TN status after the green card application is formally pending (generally meaning that Form I-485 package has been filed for TN holder; those pursuing consular process can renew until just before the interview appointment at an Immigrant Visa issuing US Consulate).

Mexican citizens in the United States[edit]

The procedures for Mexican citizens applying for TN status are a bit more complex than for Canadians, although they have been significantly simplified. Prior to 2004, Mexicans were subject to an annual quota and to procedures similar to an H-1B visa. Since 2004, a Mexican citizen would first obtain a US TN-2 visa at a US consulate (generally in Mexico). Once the TN visa stamp is obtained in the Mexican citizen's passport, they may enter the US in TN status in a similar manner to a Canadian citizen, and are admitted into the US in the TN-2 status.

In US Fiscal Years 2007 through 2009, between 4,000 and 5,000 TN visas (i.e., TN-2 visas for Mexicans) were issued by US consulates each year.[4]

Recognized TN professionals[edit]


A


Accountant Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.

Agriculturist
including Agronomist
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Breeder Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Apiculturist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Architect Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license[5]

Astronomer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

B


Biochemist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Biologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

C


Chemist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Computer Systems Analyst Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma[6] or Post-Secondary certificate,[7] and three years' experience

D


Dairy Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Dentist D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license

Dietitian Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster
claims adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years' experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims

E


Economist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Engineer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Entomologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Epidemiologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

F


Forester Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

G


Geneticist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geochemist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geophysicist
including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Graphic Designer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years' experience

H


Horticulturist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Hotel Manager Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years' experience in hotel/restaurant management

I


Industrial Designer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years' experience

Interior Designer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years' experience

J


K


L


Land Surveyor Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/federal license

Landscape Architect Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Lawyer
including Notary in the Province of Quebec
LL.B., J.D., LL.L., B.C.L. or Licenciatura Degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar

Librarian M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite)

M


Management Consultant Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years' experience as a management consultant, or five years' experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement

Mathematician
including Statistician
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)[8] Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years' experience

Meteorologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

N


Nutritionist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

O


Occupational Therapist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

P


Pharmacist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Pharmacologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Physician
teaching or research only
M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license

Physicist
including Oceanographer in Canada
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Plant Breeder Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Poultry Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Psychologist State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree

Q


R


Range Manager/Range Conservationalist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Recreational Therapist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Registered Nurse State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree

Research Assistant
working in a post-secondary educational institution
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

S


Scientific Technician/Technologist[9] Possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research

Social Worker Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Soil Scientist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Silviculturist
including Forestry Specialist
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

T


Teacher
College, Seminary or University teaching only
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Technical Publications Writer Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years' experience

U


Urban Planner
including Geographer
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

V


Veterinarian D.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license

Vocational Counselor Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

W


X


Y


Z


Zoologist Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Extension options[edit]

Renewal/extension of TN status can be done either by mail (which requires filing of form I-129 "Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker" by the employer, along with proof of the TN holder's citizenship and education, and an extension letter similar to the original offer letter) or by duplication of the original process (for Mexican citizens, a trip to a US consulate; for Canadians leaving and re-entering US, document requirements are similar to those for obtaining the original TN).

TN holders (and any dependents) are required to leave the US as soon as the TN status expires or the job is terminated; there is no formal grace period as there is with an H1-B. The individual is legally not allowed to remain in the USA to look for another job (unless they have an active application for B1/B2 Visitor Visa or similar before the last day of employment). If they wish to re-enter, they must secure an offer of employment from abroad. USCIS will usually allow a non-immigrant to enter the US to attend a specific pre-arranged job interview in visitor status. (Visitor status is allowed up to a maximum of six months - entry in any other non-immigrant category including TN counts against this limit.)

Dependents[edit]

The spouse (and dependent children) of someone with TN status may apply for TD status (TD-1 for the family members of a Canadian citizen worker, or TD-2 for those of a Mexican worker). TD status does not allow them to work, although they may attend school. In most states, non-resident tuition rates will apply for post-secondary institutions. If the spouse requesting TD status is not a Canadian citizen, he or she will usually still qualify for TD status, but must first request a formal TD visa at a US consulate.

The US consulates report 3,000 to 4,000 TD visas issued in each US Fiscal year from 2007 to 2009; this includes visas issued both to family members of Mexican TN-2 visa holders and to non-Canadian family members of Canadian TN-1 entrants.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 201 / Thursday, October 16, 2008, pp. 61332-6, retrieved from http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-24600.pdf
  2. ^ https://www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/oie/forscho/TNhandout.doc Carnegie Mellon University, office of Student Affairs
  3. ^ http://www.ssa.gov/international/Agreement_Pamphlets/canada.html Totalization Agreement with Canada
  4. ^ a b Table (B), Nonimmigrant Visas Issued by Classification (Including Crewlist Visas and Border Crossing Cards): Fiscal Years 2005 - 2009, in Report of the Visa Office 2009
  5. ^ "State/provincial license" and "state/provincial/federal license" mean any document issued by a state, provincial or federal government, as the case may be, or under its authority, but not by a local government, that permits a person to engage in a regulated activity or profession.
  6. ^ "Post-Secondary Diploma" means a credential issued, on completion of two or more years of postsecondary education, by an accredited academic institution in Canada or the United States.
  7. ^ "Post-Secondary Certificate" means a certificate issued, on completion of two or more years of postsecondary education at an academic institution, by the federal government of Mexico or a state government in Mexico, an academic institution recognized by the federal government or a state government, or an academic institution created by federal or state law.
  8. ^ A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to perform in a laboratory chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic or bacteriological tests and analyses for diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease.
  9. ^ A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]