A final rule published February 10, 2014 by US Department of State eliminates the need for Mexican national TN applicants to petition for a TN in the United States first. This is a significant benefit because it allows the TN applicant to just apply directly to the Consulate and save time and money by bypassing USCIS to obtain a TN visa.
TN stands for “Treaty NAFTA” applicants. The United States, Canada, and Mexico entered into The North American Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA) in 1994, following enactment of the NAFTA Implementation Act. NAFTA includes provisions for the entry of certain citizens of each respective signatory country into the country of either of the two others as “professionals.” To gain entry as “professionals,” such citizens must meet the qualification criteria for a particular profession listed in Appendix 1603.D.1, and be seeking temporary entry to engage in employment.
This change makes the procedure for Mexican nationals more similar to the process for Canadian nationals except that in Canada, TN applicants also do not need to apply for a visa at all. Canadians can apply directly at the US border. Mexican nationals still need to apply for a visa at the consulate.
TN applicants can obtain a TN visa for up to 3 years and then renew indefinitely. There is no cap imposed on TN applicants from either country. The TN is an underutilized classification. The US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs indicates a total of 7,638 issued in FY2012 compared with the more popular H-1B visa where 135,530 were issued. The TN is a nice alternative for professional Mexican and Canadian nationals as they may avoid competing for the coveted but cap-subject H-1B visa. For more questions about the TN classification or visa, please contact TN Colorado attorney Catherine Brown at 303-322-2117