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TN Visas for Mexican Nationals – How to determine the Period of Admission?

In a previous Blog post we have updated the period of Admission for Canadian Applicants, this post will provide the latest update for Mexican Professional Applicants under NAFTA.

Prior to Mexico’s accession to the U.S./Canada agreement. IMMACT90 made U.S. immigration laws more restrictive. When Congress later approved the favored relationship–NAFTA–citizens of Mexico were given the benefit of the then-current U.S. immigration law. Benefits granted to Canadian citizens of the CFTA prior to IMMACT90, therefore, were not granted to citizens of Mexico. Unlike Mexicans, Canadians are not required to have visas except in the E and K categories, although they must meet all the requirements of a visa category to be eligible for admission to the United States.

In contrast, citizens of Mexico without border crossing cards (BCCs) must have visas, and therefore, they are not eligible for the port-of-entry adjudication afforded Canadian citizens by NAFTA. Although U.S. immigration laws have become increasingly restrictive, NAFTA citizens of Canada and Mexico are favored more than businesspersons from any other country.

A TN visa issued to a citizen of Mexico by a U.S. consular officer is valid for a maximum of one year. The TN visa validity limitation is required by the U.S. Department of State’s reciprocity schedule. The validity of the TN visa, however, does not determine the period of time that a Mexican TN nonimmigrant alien may be admitted in TN status.

A citizen of Mexico with a valid TN visa may be admitted for a period of up to three years in TN status.

Determining the Appropriate Period of Admission:

A citizen of Mexico may be admitted to the United States in TN status for up to three years, provided that the individual’s passport will remain valid throughout this period and the individual is otherwise admissible.

The period of initial admission for citizens of Mexico in TN status should be for the full period of intended employment, up to a maximum of three years. The intended period of employment should be indicated in a letter or similar statement supporting the TN application for admission and signed by the prospective employer. If the period of employment will exceed the validity of the TN visa, the applicant for admission still may be admitted up to three years regardless of the expiration date of the TN visa, provided that the individual’s passport will remain valid throughout this period and the individual is otherwise admissible.

Examples help to illustrate the appropriate period of admission for a TN nonimmigrant alien.

Example #1: A citizen of Mexico may present a TN visa valid for a period of one year accompanied by a letter from the prospective employer indicating that the intended period of employment is for a period of three (3) years. The Mexican nonimmigrant alien may be admitted for a period of three (3) years, provided that the individual’s passport will remain valid throughout this period and the individual is otherwise admissible.

Example #2: A citizen of Mexico may present a TN visa valid for a period of one week after the date of application for admission accompanied by a letter from a prospective employer indicating that the intended period of employment is for a period of three (3) years. The Mexican nonimmigrant alien may be admitted for a period of three (3) years, provided that the individual’s passport will remain valid throughout this period and the individual is otherwise admissible.

Example #3: A citizen of Mexico may present a TN visa valid for a period of one week after the date of application for admission accompanied by a letter from a prospective employer indicating that the intended period of employment is for a period of one (1) year. The Mexican nonimmigrant alien may be admitted for a period of one (1) year, provided that the individual’s passport will remain valid throughout this period and the individual is otherwise admissible.

Foreign workers traveling into their destination countries can help themselves enormously by being able to articulate to border agents the specific purpose and nature of their trip or assignment and their qualifications to take on the assignment. CBP agents should be educated about the TN Admission rules, and avoid any unnecessary delays for applicants coming to work under NAFTA provisions.