TN NAFTA Professional

This information is for the University of Houston hiring departments who have hired or are interested in hiring a foreign national. This information does not constitute legal advice.

The TN is used for UH faculty and staff from Mexico and Canada.  This category permits U.S. employers to hire Mexican and Canadian professionals (including professors, researchers, and certain technical personnel) who meet the minimum qualification requirements for the pertinent NAFTA profession.

In order for a person to obtain TN classification, the prospective employer may file a petition for change of nonimmigrant status with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the foreign national may submit a visa application outside the U.S. The Immigration Specialist files all official TN requests with the USCIS for UH.
The process does not officially start until the Immigration Specialist receives the completed forms and supporting documentation from both the hiring department and the employee.  Please visit the Request Procedures section for detailed steps for submitting a request to petition for changing or extending the nonimmigrant status to TN worker.

Regular processing times (non-expedited) vary throughout the year but normally average 2 to 3 months. The consular processing time depends upon consular-interview appointment availability and security/clearance checks (the consular step does not apply to Canadians since they are visa exempt).  Please note that much of the processing time is beyond the control of the Immigration Specialist and the normal regular processing times are subject to change.

Eligibility for TN

The TN worker is required to meet the minimum qualification for the pertinent NAFTA profession.  If the actual requirements for a position include a higher degree, the foreign worker must have such a degree, or the foreign equivalent.
Equivalency in most cases is based on education, prior work experience, or a combination of both.  Foreign credentials must be evaluated by an accredited credentials evaluator for U.S. equivalency determination.

Duration of TN

TN classification can be granted in increments of up to three years at a time. An employee can hold TN status indefinitely.

TN Job Description and Requirements

The TN is restricted to employment in a NAFTA profession and the worker must meet the pertinent minimum qualification for the profession in question.

TN Filing Fees

UH is responsible for the TN fees for USCIS filing.  UH is responsible for the premium processing fee if employment of the worker in TN status is required before the TN petition can be approved under regular processing.

    * Initial TN (including change of status, change of employer, and concurrent job): $325 filing fee.
    * TN Extension and/or Amendment: $325 filing fee.
    * Optional Premium Processing fee (15 calendar day processing): $1,225.


* Fees are subject to change.
** Other fees apply for the consular processing of a TN visa (Mexican TN only).

TN Employment Start Date

The employment start date for an initial TN filing to change the nonimmigrant status, or change of TN employer, or concurrent TN employment, will be the requested starting date or the date the petition is approved, whichever is later.   When the beneficiary is coming from abroad, the employment begins when the beneficiary is in the U.S. in TN status.

Change from One TN Employer to Another

The USCIS requires that the petition to work for a new TN employer be approved. Proof of employment at the time of the new TN petition filing needs to be submitted.

TN Dependents

The spouse and/or children under 21 years of age of an TN worker are entitled to the TD classification, which grants them lawful stay in the U.S. for the duration of the worker's TN.  TD holders cannot obtain employment in the U.S., but they may attend school.  The filing fee for the TD change of status or extension application filed with the USCIS is currently $290 for all dependents included and is subject to change.  Additional fees apply when processing the TD visa at the consulate (Mexican TN only).

UH does not prepare the TD application packet for the TN worker's dependents, but will include it with the TN petition packet.

TN Visa Processing

This section applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians since the latter are visa-exempt.

The TN visa, which is the document stamped in the passport through a formal application at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, is necessary in order to be able to enter the U.S. and be assigned TN status.  The visa application normally requires the scheduling of an appointment ahead of time and presenting consulate-specific forms and supporting documentation.  UH will not prepare consular-based applications, but may provide direction to where visa application information and guidance are online.

Volunteering in TN Status

TN workers may not work for UH without pay.

Permanent Residency for TN Workers

The TN classification does not allow "dual intent," which in immigration terms means that the foreign worker cannot process a permanent residence application while in the U.S. in TN status.  Please visit the Immigrant (Permanent Visa) Worker section for details on permanent residency.