In a move that will be of significant interest to Canadians needing work permits to work in the United States, the U.S. has increased the maximum allowable validity period of NAFTA TN work visas from one year to three years.

TN status is a special non-immigrant status which allows eligible Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States in certain professional occupations that are listed under NAFTA.

Up until October 16, 2008 TN visas were granted to Canadians and Mexicans in one year increments. The new rule allows TN work visas to be issued for up to three years. TN status may then be renewed in increments of up to three years.

All other conditions of TN status remain the same.

This change is beneficial as it means that TN holders will no longer have to worry about getting a new work permit every 12 months.

It remains to be seen if Canada will amend its NAFTA rules in a similar fashion. Currently, the 12 month rule remains in place, which means that Canadian work permits issued to American and Mexican applicants under NAFTA's professional category will continue to be valid for one year.

The new U.S. rule may be may be viewed at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-24600.pdf.