USCIS Announces Rule to Increase TN Stay

May 7th, 2008

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it is publishing a notice to increase the maximum period of admission for Trade-NAFTA (TN) professional workers from Canada or Mexico from one year to three years, the same term of admission for H-1B specialty occupation workers.

The proposed rule will also allow TN nonimmigrants to be granted an extension of stay in increments of up to three years, as opposed to the current maximum of one year.  There is no limitation on the period of stay for TN nonimmigrants and, therefore, they may seek multiple readmissions or extensions, provided their intended professional activity continues and they remain otherwise eligible. 

One of the great advantages of this rule is that TNs will no longer feel compelled to change their status to H-1B when they wish to start the process of applying for legal permanent residency (green card).  Currently, because the green card process is lengthly and usually takes several years, and because the TN is not a dual intent visa, which means that they cannot travel abroad and reenter in TN status if they are far enough along in the green card process, TNs must try to change their status to H-1B when starting the green card process.  Because of the cap on H-1B visas (65,000/20,000 for master’s degree from US), there is no guarantee that the TN will be able to change to H-1B status.  This rule allowing for an extended period of admission will allow many TNs to remain in TN status while the green card is pending without ever having to switch to H-1B status.