TN Trade NAFTA

Overview and Eligibility

Under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican citizens who will be employed in certain professions (PDF) may be temporarily admitted to the U.S. in TN status. 

Teaching staff and paid researchers with baccalaureate degrees qualify for TN status; physicians qualify for TN status only for teaching and/or research; no element of patient care can be involved.

TN status is employer- and job-specific; to be employed at UC San Diego the TN must be admitted to the U.S. using the department invitation letter or, if currently in the U.S. in TN status and wanting to change employers without departing the country, must have IFSO file an I-129 petition to change employers. Multiple employers are allowed, but only if the TN has been admitted to the U.S. with invitation letters from both employers, or has an approved I-129 petition with the employer(s).

TN status is valid for up to 3 years (depending on the length of the job offer) and may be extended in increments of three years indefinitely.  However, it is a nonimmigrant intent status and, after many years in TN status, it may be difficult to continue proving nonimmigrant intent, and the department may wish to consider sponsoring the individual in H-1B status.

The TN status is a nonimmigrant status which requires that applicants' entries be temporary and, if required, prove at the time of entry that they have no immigrant intent (tenure-track positions should NOT use the TN).

For questions on eligibility or processing, please contact the TN advisor, Johanna Marroig (x25541)

Processing Time and Cost

TN employees can obtain or extend TN status in two ways, by applying for admission to the U.S. at a port of entry with an invitation letter from the department, or by filing an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Travel: The department needs issue only a letter on letterhead addressing specific requirements (see template below).  The prospective TN will use this letter to apply for a visa stamp (Mexican nationals only; Canadians are exempt from visa requirements) and then for admission to the U.S.  No cost to the department is associated with this route.

Petition: The department and scholar must submit TN request forms to IFSO.  IFSO internal processing time, from submission of complete request packet, is 10 business days.  The petition still will need to be adjudicated by USCIS, which can take several months.  There is an $850 recharge for IFSO services and a $460 filing fee for USCIS adjudication.  Premium Processing fee for USCIS is $1225.

Obtaining TN Status through Travel

Prospective TNs are allowed to request admission to the U.S. in TN status within the 10-day period immediately preceding the anticipated start date of the TN employment.  The following documentation must be presented at the port of entry (Mexcian nationals will also need a valid TN visa stamp; Canadian nationals are exempt from all visa stamp requirements):

  • Evidence of citizenship
  • Letter from the chair of the academic department which must state:
    • The activity to be engaged in, including a detailed job description
    • The specific TN profession to which the job offer corresponds (see list)
    • The anticipated length of stay (up to 3 years) and statement that it is temporary
    • The amount of funding, including benefits
    • Confirmation that the position requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a specified field of study
    • Confirmation of the person's academic credentials
  • Original diploma or transctript of the highest academic degree earned (and foreign credentials evaluation of it if the degree is not from a Canadian, Mexican or U.S. institution)
  • Copy of professional license, if license is required for the position
  • Copy of resume or Curriculum Vitae, including membership in professional organizations
  • Application fee of $50 (Canadian nationals only)

TN Template Letter

U.S. Embassy or Consulate [Mexican TN applicants only]

U.S. Port of Entry/Preclearance Inspection Center

To Whom It May Concern:

We would like to employ Dr. ________    _________  temporarily as a Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee [NOTE: please refrain from any references to "students," including Visiting Graduate Student appointments, as the federal official may deny entry thinking the applicant should be entering the U.S. in a student status], beginning October 1, 2013  through September 30, 2016.  Dr. _____'s appointment corresponds to the occupation "Biologist" found on the NAFTA-specified occupation list in Appendix 1603.D.1 of Annex 1603 of the NAFTA. Dr. _______'s annual salary will be $43,900, paid through the UCSD payroll system; he will be benefits-eligible.  Dr. _______ has extensive experience on the application of molecular biological techniques to study brain ion channels, the critical molecules which underlie the electrical excitability of neurons. The techniques include but are not limited to cloning, expression, mutagenesis and generation of transgenic and knockout mice models relevant to human neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson and Huntington diseases. Dr. _______’s expertise will accelerate the progress of our programs on the structure-and function of brain ion channels and to acquire insights into the alteration of channels in mutants of channels we have previously identified which are relevant to inherited forms of human epilepsy.  

Criteria for appointment at this level include possession of the Ph.D. or equivalent and ability to make original and significant contributions to a research program. University and public service are encouraged, but not required.  Dr. _________ meets the minimum requirements for this position, and possesses a Ph.D. in the field of __________.

We are truly excited about having Dr. ________ join our research team, and respectfully request that he be granted TN status.

Sincerely,

[Dept. Chair]

TN Completion

The TN status allows for a grace period of up to 60 days or the authorized validity period, whichever is shorter, from the date of "cessation of employment."  There is only one grace period per authorized validity period, and it may be eliminated or shortened at the discretion of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (US DHS).  The grace period does not grant employment authorization, but may be used, for example, to apply for a change of status, prepare to depart the country, or have another employer sponsor one for employment authorization in an appropriate nonimmigrant classification.

Contact Us

International Faculty & Scholar Office (IFSO)
Phone:
(858) 246-1448
Email:
ischolars@ucsd.edu
Hours:
M-F: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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