The United States Department of Homeland Security has issued a new rule increasing the period of admission and extension for TN visa holders from one (1) year to three (3) years. The effective date of this rule is October 16, 2008.
TN visas are available for Canadian and Mexican workers who seek temporary entry to the United States as professionals under the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). The TN visa is a special visa created under NAFTA for citizens of Canada and Mexico who are entering the United States to engage in a defined employment profession listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA. In addition, TN employees must possess the required credentials listed by NAFTA for their profession, such as a degree, a diploma, or related employment experience, in order to qualify for TN visa status in the United States.
The dependants (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of TN visa holders are entitled to obtain derivative TD visa status in the United States with the same restrictions as the principal TN visa holder. The dependants may be students in the United States, but may not be employed under their TD visas.
Previously, TN and TD visas were issued in increments of one (1) year and could also be renewed in increments of one (1) year.
This new rule increases the maximum allowable period of admission for TN visa holders from one (1) year to three (3) years, and permits TN visa extensions for up to three (3) years instead of the current maximum of one (1) year. The rule also grants the same periods of admission or extension to TD visa holders.
We suggest that employers counsel current or prospective TN visa holders to apply for or extend their TN visas from one (1) to three (3) years, to avoid having to renew their visas on a yearly basis. A 3-year TN visa is a much more attractive and less expensive visa alternative for employees who would otherwise qualify, for example, for H-1B visas, which are allotted by lottery once a year and cost up to two thousand eight hundred US dollars (USD$2,800) per worker just in government filing fees.