The TN (Trade NAFTA) category was developed as part of NAFTA to facilitate the entry of Canadian and Mexican Citizens to the United States in order to engage in professional activities on a temporary basis.

  • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has issued a list of the professional occupations and minimum qualifications which serves as the basis for TN employment. Direct information about the TN category may be found at INA§214(e)(2), and at 8CFR§214.6.
  • The TN category is only available to citizens of Canada or Mexico. Landed immigrants or permanent residents of Canada or Mexico are not eligible, since the NAFTA and INA have made provision only for citizens of these two countries.

In addition to the information available in the printable TN Request Packet

Application & Processing Information

TN processing can happen from within the US or from outside.

  • ISSS recommends obtaining TN status by traveling for immigration processing at the port of entry.
  • If the TN employee does not want to travel, ISSS will need to file an I-129 Petition with USCIS. In such cases, there will be an internal processing fee of $500 for initial and extension applications. 
  • TN Processing within US
    • To pursue an extension or change of status to TN within the U.S., the hiring department must work with ISSS. 
    • If processing from within the U.S., it will involve a filing of a U.S. government petition by the employer, not by the TN employee.  
    • The government processing time will be 2-6 months, compared to immediate processing if done at the border. 

    The hiring departments and the foreign nationals are not authorized to file their own TN I-129 petitions.  Such petitions must be filed by ISSS.

    NOTE: While it may be possible to change/extend status to TN within the US, the process is costly and more time-consuming than applying for TN status at a port of entry.  Thus, TN processing from within the US is not recommended.

Conditions, Reminders & Dependents Information

  • Period, Change & Completion of TN Employment
  • Period of TN Employment

    • Canadian and Mexican citizens may be admitted to the U.S. in TN status for a period of three years to participate in a qualifying activity; however, there is no cumulative total limit on the time a Canadian or Mexican citizens can be in TN status.
    • Extensions of stay may also be granted in increments of up to three years, provided that the TN nonimmigrant is able to demonstrate that s/he does not intend to remain or work permanently in the U.S.
    • Candidates for tenure-track positions are asked to consult with ISSS on different immigration classifications which would allow permanent employment.

    Change of TN Employer

    • If an individual is already in the U.S. and in TN status but is sponsored by another employer and wishes to start employment at Penn, s/he must obtain a new TN status that is specific to Penn employment.
    • The individual must not begin working for Penn until Penn’s TN is approved.

    Completion of TN Employment

    • Unfortunately there is no grace period for the TN employees. 
    • So, the individual is expected to leave the U.S. on the last day of employment.
  • TN Employment Restrictions
    • The TN is specific to the employer and job/position for an individual TN employee. TN employment authorized for Penn does not allow employment with another department at Penn, at another location, or for a different employer.
    • Consult ISSS prior to any changes in the individual’s employment, such as change in title, academic degree required for position, number of hours worked, department, location, or position duties. In some cases, an amended petition will have to be filed with DHS.
    • Please note that failure to consult ISSS may put Penn and the individual employee at risk for sanctions and penalties by DHS or DOL.
    • TN employees are not allowed to accept honoraria or payment from outside sources.
  • Travel in TN Status
    • TN employees should always consult with ISSS before traveling outside the U.S.  
    • Furthermore, employees requesting a change of status to TN within the U.S. should not leave the U.S. while the petition is pending; DHS considers leaving the U.S. while a petition is pending to be an abandonment of the petition.
  • TN Dependents
    • The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the TN status holder are eligible for TD (Trade NAFTA Dependent) dependent status.
    • Unlike TN status, TD status is not limited to citizens of Canada and Mexico.
    • To obtain TD status, a dependent must either:
      • Apply for an TD visa stamp at the US Embassy or Consulate overseas. Canadian citizens are visa exempt. Upon entry to the US, dependents must present a copy of TN’s immigration documents, his/her passport and his/her TD visa stamp (accompanied by any supporting documents) at the US Port of Entry in order to gain TD status; or
      • Apply for a Change of Status in the US.  Meet with an ISSS advisor for further details.
    • TD dependents may study in the US, as long as their primary purpose in the US is to accompany the TN status holder.  However, the duration of their study depends on the TN’s period of stay.
    • TD dependents are not eligible to work in the US. 
    • If the TN is eligible and applies for an extension of stay, the TD dependent may also apply for an extension along with the TN status holder before the expiration of TD status.
    • A child may not continue to hold TD status upon reaching his or her 21st birthday.