The TN Category for Canadian and Mexican Citizens

The TN category was established as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Citizens of Canada or Mexico coming to the U.S. on a temporary basis for professional employment with a specific employer may use this immigration option. Departments must complete and submit to the ISSO the Department Information for O-1, P-1, TN.

Canadian and Mexican faculty members, research fellows, and other post-doctoral researchers may now choose among J-1, H-1B and TN visa statuses, with the advice and assistance of the ISSO. The TN status is similar to the H-1B except that it is also available to non-academic professionals at Columbia, e.g., computer programmers, technicians, and research assistants. A baccalaureate degree is the minimum requirement to qualify for TN status in certain professions.

This nonimmigrant visa category will allow a Mexican or Canadian citizen (but not a Canadian landed immigrant) to enter the U.S. temporarily to engage in activities at the professional level. These activities have been defined as employment which requires at least a bachelor's degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as professional and are on the list of allowable professions as defined by the Treaty at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1274.html.

To enter the U.S. in TN status, a Canadian citizen should make an application at a port of entry to the United States. Canadians do not apply for a visa. Mexican citizens make an application at a United States Consulate for a TN visa.

When entering the U.S., a Canadian citizen must present the following documents:

  1. Passport that is valid for at least six (6) months after the date of entry to the U.S.
  2. Documentation of professional qualifications. Provide three copies of certified diplomas and certified transcripts in the original language. Provide three copies of certified translations of diplomas and transcripts if the original language is not English. Copies can be certified by signing the Certification of Documents statement. Translations must be certified by an official translator. Columbia University has a student-run Translation Agency. You may contact them at (212) 854-4888. If the degree does not appear to be equivalent to a comparable U.S. degree, it must be evaluated by an outside agency to determine U.S. equivalency. Two reputable firms to contact are Trustforte Corp or Morningside Evaluations
  3. Documentation of intent to engage in an activity a professional level: letter from the hiring Columbia department that lists the salary, job details, length of stay and any requirements for degree or licenses. Please follow this sample letter.
  4. $56 fee per information on U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site. (Fees are subject to change. Verify the current fee on the Department of State Web site for TN visas.)

Mexican applicants must submit the following documents when applying for a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate:

  1. A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's expected date of entry to the United States.
  2. Documentation of professional qualities, i.e. diplomas, degrees, etc. (If the diploma does not state the field of study, a transcript must be provided)
  3. Documentation of intent to engage in an activity a professional level, such as letters from a prospective employer in the U.S. that lists the salary, job details, length of stay and any requirements for degree or licenses

Please check the State Department website on Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker for complete information on the TN visa application process and documentary requirements.

Those entering in TN status can apply for permission to stay for up to three years. No maximum limit on the number of extensions has been established. Dependents of the person holding TN status enter in TD status and are not allowed to work. Dependents applying for the TD visa or entering the US in TD status should provide proof of familial relationship.

Rather than traveling outside the United States, applicants in the U.S. in another status or TN holders who want to extend TN status may work with the hiring department and the ISSO on the filing of an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The fee is $325, made payable to Department of Homeland Security.
The following documents should be sent to the ISSO by the department for a change of status to or an extension of TN status:

  1. Department Information for O-1, P-1, TN
  2. Three copies of passport ID page showing identity and dates of validity. The passport must be valid for at least six (6) months after the requested TN start date.
  3. Documentation of professional qualifications, i.e. diplomas, degrees, etc. (If the diploma does not state the field of study, a transcript must be provided)
  4. Documentation of intent to engage in an activity ar a professional level:. This is a letter from the Columbia hiring department that lists the salary, job details, length of stay and any requirements for degree or licenses
  5. $325 fee made payable to Department of Homeland Security. When preparing a Check Request to submit to Accounts Payable, use the vendor "US Dept of Homeland Security, USCIS Service Center, 75 Lower Weldon Street, St. Albans, VT 05479 and use only "hold for pick up" when requesting these checks.
  6. Three copies of C.V., including list of publications
  7. Three copies of front and back of your I-94 Card. If your last entry was after May 1, 2013, you must go to the electronic I-94 web site at www.cbp.gov/I94 to print out your most recent I-94 Admission Record and make three copies of this print out.
  8. the Certification of Documents and Data Sheet for TN Applicant

If a dependent (spouse and/or children) needs a change of status or an extension of stay, the petition must include

  1. Completed form I-539
  2. Two copies of passport ID page showing identity and dates of validity.
  3. Two copies of front and back of I-94 card. If the last entry was after May 1, 2013, you must go to the electronic I-94 web site at www.cbp.gov/I94 to print out your most recent I-94 Admission Record and make three copies of this print out.
  4. Copy of visa stamp, if previously required for entry into the US in TD status
  5. Fee of $290, made payable to Department of Homeland Security
  6. Proof of relationship to TN applicant (marriage certificate of birth certificate)

Reporting requirements for those in TN status:

  1. Print your I-94 Admission Record from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) I-94 web site at www.cbp.gov/I94 and fax it to the ISSO as soon as you arrive at Columbia. Our fax number is 851-1235.
  2. All non-immigrants are required to notify the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days of a change of address. Complete Form AR-11, downloadable from www.uscis.gov, and mailing the completed form to USCIS. It is advisable to send the AR-11 by certified mail, return receipt requested. Notify the ISSO of any address change; this may be done by fax to 851-1235 or by email to isso@columbia.edu

Last reviewed: 28 April 2014 Last modified: 28 April 2014
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office