Now, Mexicans applying for TN status are eligible for four-year visas by paying a larger fee. This option allows Mexicans to avoid the hassles associated with having a three-year TN visa approval but only a one-year visa.

Since 1993, Canadians and Mexicans have been able to enter the United States to work in certain fields in TN status pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement. That treaty became the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement in 2020 with no major substantive changes to TN status and the process for obtaining a TN visa.

TN visas are available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who wish to work in the United States for a specific employer in more than 60 professions. There is no cap on the number of TNs available. Therefore, TN visas become particularly useful when H-1B visas are no longer available. With a TN visa, an individual who meets the eligibility requirements can enter the United States to work for up to three years at a time, and the status may be extended for three-year periods with no strict maximum limitation. Dependents may enter as well, but are not granted work authorization.

Generally, Canadians can apply directly at Class A ports of entry, or United States preclearance and preflight stations, without first having to apply through USCIS — thus expediting the process. Processing time usually is one hour to three hours, and Canadians are not required to apply for a TN visa.

For Mexicans, the process is more involved. Mexicans must apply directly at a U.S. Consulate and follow the general visa application instructions. From 2010 until 2022, TN visas for Mexicans were issued only for one year. This meant that even if the TN status was issued for three years, the holder would have to apply yearly for a new visa if they travelled internationally. Not only that, but CBP officers at the border often would mistakenly issue I-94s only for the period of the visa validity. With the change in the reciprocity tables set by the Department of State, Mexicans can receive a four-year visa for a $382 reciprocity fee, instead of the $104 fee for a one-year visa. These fees are on top of the usual $160 nonimmigrant visa application (MRV) fee.

If you have any questions about applying for or travelling in TN status, please reach out to your Jackson Lewis attorney.