Reports from Canada and CBC News have confirmed that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (“APRNs”), including Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Practitioners, who work in the United States pursuant to valid NAFTA professional (“TN”) visas have been denied entry to the United States within the past week. These APRNs have been informed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) that their TN visas are no longer valid and that they must be in H-1B status to continue working in the United States.

Overview

Who is affected?

Canadian nurses who are in valid TN status and qualify as APRNs are affected. This could include Nurse Practitioners, CRNAs, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Managers and other high skilled nursing positions. Those who are general registered nurses with valid TN status have not yet been reporting any issues at the border.

When does this go into effect?

CBP did not issue any guidance or memorandum on this change but has already begun implementing this new policy.

What can APNs expect?

Canadians who qualify as APNs and are in valid TN status are being informed by CBP that their TN visas are no longer valid and that they must be in H-1B status to work in the United States. As justification, CBP is citing their advanced education and level of care.

As a result of the suspension of premium processing on April 3, APRNs who try to change status to H-1B will likely be facing waits as long as six months for work authorization.

CBP has also stated that TN visas for these employees will not be renewed.

Practical Takeaways

APRNs working in the United States pursuant to valid TN status should refrain from exiting the country if at all possible. Employers of these employees need to consider filing for H-1B status for these employees as soon as practicable in order for the employee to be able to continue working legally in the United States.

Premium processing is a program for H-1B petitions that guarantees a decision on the case within 15 calendar days. As stated above, premium processing for H-1B petitions is being suspended on April 3, with no guarantee that petitions filed before this date will be adjudicated with premium processing. Regular H-1B processing times are currently taking around six months. Because of this upcoming suspension, it is critical that employers of APRNs who are working pursuant to valid TN status contact immigration counsel as soon as possible.