TN Visa Sponsorship

The International and Postdoctoral Services Office (IPSO) has prepared this information to assist colleges/departments in determining if TN sponsorship is appropriate for their hiring needs and how to facilitate a TN sponsorship through Customs and Border Protection or adjudication by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have any questions or need additional information, please email or call Jonathan Harwood, Coordinator of International Services, at or 706-721-0670.

What is a TN?

The TN (Trade NAFTA) category was developed as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA), to facilitate the entry of Canadian and Mexican citizens to the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis.

What positions qualify for TN sponsorship?

Only occupations specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty can serve as the basis for TN employment. Appendix 1603.D.1 also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation. Commonly sponsored positions for TN status include: Teachers, Scientists, Research Assistants, Dentists, Pharmacists and Physicians (only incidental patient care allowed). If the position requires licensure, applicants must have the license when applying for TN status.

Appendix 1603.D.1 of Annex 1603 of the NAFTA listed in 8 C.F.R. § 214.6(c).

What positions are not suitable for TN sponsorship?

Occupations not listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 are not eligible for TN sponsorship

Who is eligible for TN sponsorship?

To be eligible for TN status, a potential employee must:

  • Be a citizen of Canada or Mexico. Landed immigrants and permanent residents of Canada and Mexico do not qualify.
  • Be applying for a position listed on the TN Occupations List
  • Possess the minimum qualifications for that position, as listed on the TN Occupations List
  • Have plans for a temporary stay. Longer-term positions (such as tenure-track faculty positions) are not appropriate for TN status.

Who needs to file for TN status?

As TN is an employer-sponsored status, the hiring college/department is responsible for starting the TN process by notifying IPSO of their interest in a TN candidate and submitting a TN Processing/Department Request. IPSO will evaluate the candidate and position for TN sponsorship eligibility. IPSO will only petition for qualified personnel whom the college/department wishes to employ. The hiring unit must begin this process on behalf of new and continuing personnel.

How much does sponsorship cost?

There are two paths to TN status for potential and extending employees.

  1. Travel: Applicants can apply for TN status directly at the US border with documentation provided by IPSO. This method incurs no charge to the college/department and is the fastest way to secure TN status.
  2. Petition to USCIS: If the candidate is currently in the US in a different status, a change of status request can be filed with USCIS. Sponsorship requires the college/department to pay $460 in application fees. USCIS processing varies from 3-5 months.

How long does it take to hire an employee in TN status?

Applying at the border is the quickest means of obtaining TN status. IPSO can usually review a complete processing/department request and assemble the necessary documentation within two weeks. The applicant will take the documentation to the border to apply for TN status, which is usually granted immediately. Colleges/Departments can expect to wait 3-6 months if a petition for change of status is submitted to USCIS.

How long is a TN valid?

Both Canadian and Mexican citizens can be admitted to the United States in TN status in increments of up to three years. Extensions of stay are also granted in up to three-year increments. There is no cumulative time limit on the time a Canadian or Mexican citizen can be in TN status. Status can be renewed indefinitely, provided the TN professional can still prove nonimmigrant intent each time he or she applies for admission to the U.S.

Can an employee seek both permanent residency and TN status at the same time?

No. TN status is considered temporary in nature and does not allow an employee to petition for permanent residency.

Will IPSO petition for status for the dependents of TN employees?

If a change of status petition is being submitted to USCIS, as a professional courtesy, IPSO will petition for dependents (giving them TD status). However, the USCIS filing fee of $290.00 (subject to change) is to be paid by the employee.

Who can be considered an TD visa holder?

Qualifying TD beneficiaries are the spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years of age of the principal TN visa holder.

Can an TD visa holder work while in the US?

No. A TD visa holder cannot legally work in the United States but may engage in full- or part-time study.