Maintaining TN Non-Immigrant Class
Required Activities For Maintaining Status
TN workers must work only for the employer and engage only in the work specified in the appointment or contract letter written by the employer. For more details, please see the Employment Authorization section below. Note that Canadian citizen TN workers and their TD dependents are not required to get visa stamps. Mexican citizen TN workers and their TD dependents are required to carry passports and get visa stamps.
TD dependent spouse and children are in status only while the TN is in status. The TD dependents cannot remain in the U.S. if the TN principal leaves the U.S. for an extended period of time. For more information, please see our 30-day Absence From the United States page.
TN workers are admitted only until the date listed on their I-94 cards and may work only until that date, which should be 3 years or less from the date of entry in TN status or the date of the change to TN status. If filing an application for extension of stay inside the U.S., the petition must be at DHS before the expiration date on the I-94 card and may be filed up to 6 months before the expiration date on the I-94. If filing for extension by exiting the U.S. and processing a new TN through admission at the border, the TN should leave the U.S. on or before the ending date of the current I-94, and must obtain a new I-94 at the port of entry. The DVS will contact your department 6 months before your current stay expires to determine if the department wants to extend your employment. There is no maximum time one can hold TN status, but TN status is given in 3-year increments, and each extension or new entry requires a showing of non-immigrant intent – i.e. the intention to return home at the end of employment.
TD dependent extensions are filed at the same time as the TN extension. A TN who chooses to process extension by exit and reentry must take the entire TD family to the port for processing. Just processing the TN extension at the port does not extend the stay of TDs who remain behind in the U.S. Remember that the ending date on the I-94 is the ruling document regarding when authorized stay ends.
TN workers are authorized only for employment described in the appointment letter and only until the ending date of authorized stay noted on the I-94 card or until the actual employment ends, whichever comes first. The TN may work only for the employer whose appointment letter accompanied the TN petition or was presented at the port of entry. If collaborative work is to be done with several employers, then each employer must write a separate appointment letter to either accompany the TN petition or to be presented at the port of entry. This is called a concurrent TN.
TN workers must file to extend their TN status before the current work permission ends in order to maintain status and continue uninterrupted work. Persons remaining in the U.S. may extend their TN work permission by filing for extension with DHS through the DVS. As travel to Canada and Mexico are relatively easy, many TN workers choose to extend their work permission by leaving the U.S. and applying for a new TN status at the port of entry. Remember that these are new applications each time and will require a new showing of appointment letter, licensure (for MDs, RNs, etc.), and non-immigrant intent each time. Mexican citizens will need to have valid visa stamps for each entry.
TD dependents are not permitted to work. A TD, however, may qualify for a separate, independent immigration class that does permit work. Examples include the F-1, H-1B, J-1, O-1, or TN. A TD dependent who works has violated status even though the TN still may be in status.