TN Reference Guide
The TN classification is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who seek to enter the US on a temporary basis to work in a professional-level job under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement. You must be employed in one of the professions listed in the NAFTA Professional Job Series List and have at least a baccalaureate degree unless an alternative credential is specified. The list includes university professors and researchers.
Although the regulations do not limit the number of years you may remain in the US, TN is a nonimmigrant status. You must establish to the satisfaction of USCIS that the employment opportunity is both temporary and short-term.
- Coming to the US
- Documentation required for entry into the US in TN Status
- What to expect at the port of entry
- Transportation to campus from the airport
- Social Security number
- UW identification card (Husky Card)
- Washington State driver’s license/identification card
- Health care
- TD employment
- Study in TD status
- Childcare for young children
- Children and schools
- Family activities
- Report address changes
- Renewal of TN Status
- Work only where and when approved
- Depart the US in a timely manner
- Pay your taxes
- Registration documentation
- Travel within the US
Canadian professionals are admitted into the US in TN-1 status. Mexican professionals are admitted into the U.S. in TN-2 status. Though the procedures are similar, the procedures for Mexican citizens are a bit more complex than for Canadians.
Documentation required for entry into the US in TN status:
- Valid passport
- Diplomas, academic transcripts, and professional license (if required). Submit originals for verification purposes; they will be returned.
- Letter from the US employer (UW hiring department) addressed to the “US Department of Homeland Security” which identifies the TN profession in which you will be working, a detailed summary of job responsibilities, salary, and anticipated length of stay. The letter should state the job’s minimum degree and experience requirements and describe how you qualify to perform the job.
- Visa Screen is required for certain healthcare professionals.
- Mexican citizens must apply for and obtain a US TN-2 visa at a US consulate (generally in Mexico) before they will be permitted to enter the US in TN status. Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a visa.
- Canadians entering the US in TN status pay a $56 TN fee at the port of entry. Mexican citizens pay a nonimmigrant visa application fee when applying for the TN visa at the US consulate.
What to expect at the port of entry
- Plan to enter the US in TN status no more than 10 days prior to the employment start date indicated in the employer’s letter.
- Always hand-carry your documents and be prepared to present them to an immigration officer.
- Clearly explain to the immigration officer that you seek admission to the US in TN status.
- Be prepared to describe in detail the job offer, including a percentage breakdown of the job’s various tasks, and to provide the address where you will live in the US.
- The US immigration officer will place an entry stamp in your passport indicating your class of admission (TN) and duration of status. The officer will also issue you a Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. If you enter the US at a border crossing, you will receive a paper I-94 card; otherwise you will receive only an entry stamp and will have to access your electronic I-94 card using the Internet. Be sure that your I-94 record indicates “TN” status and reflects the validity dates requested in the employer’s letter (up to three years), the TN occupation, and the employer’s name. The I-94 is evidence of your eligibility to work in the US. Don’t lose it!
- The officer will take your fingerprints and a digital photograph.
- If the officer cannot initially verify your information, you may be directed to an interview area referred to as “secondary inspection.” Please remain patient and cooperative. If the officer has questions about your affiliation with the UW, suggest that he or she contact your UW department or International Scholars Operations (ISO).
Transportation to campus from the airport
Shuttle Express is a van service from the airport to your destination. After collecting your luggage, follow signs to “Ground Transportation”. Proceed to the Shuttle Express booth. Expect to pay at least $25 plus a 15% gratuity per person. Taxi service is available 24 hours per day. To the UW, expect to pay at least $40 plus a 15% gratuity. If you don’t have much luggage, light rail from the airport to downtown with public bus service connections to the UW is available during business hours at low cost.
Before you arrive in Seattle, ask your UW department for assistance in locating off-campus housing. Apartments in the U-District (the neighborhood surrounding the UW) are within walking or biking distance to campus. Other neighborhoods have good bus service to the UW. Useful resources include:
- UW Visiting Faculty Housing Service
- The FIUTS office in HUB 310 posts housing opportunities for international visitors
- Limited dormitory-style on-campus housing may be available during the summer months.
- UW Daily, classified ads
- Guide to Seattle neighborhoods
- Off-Campus Housing Affairs
To transfer money to the US before your arrival, your financial institution will need to make arrangements with a bank that has an office in Seattle. There may be a limit to the amount of funds which may be transferred. Banks within walking distance of the UW campus include:
- Bank of America, 4701 University Way NE
- Key Bank, 400 NE Ravenna Blvd
- US Bank, HUB ground floor
- Chase Bank, 4300 Brooklyn Ave NE
- Wells Fargo, 4100 University Way NE
Social Security number
You must apply for a Social Security number (SSN). Payment of salary may be withheld until the SSN is issued. Once you have been issued a SSN, you’ll never need to apply for one again.
UW identification card (Husky Card)
After arriving at the UW, you may obtain a UW ID card, permitting access to most UW services and facilities including:
- Parking and Transportation Services
- Intramural Activities Building (IMA)
- UW Libraries
- UW Benefits / Worklife
Washington State driver’s license / identification card
For a small fee, the Washington State Department of Licensing issues driver’s licenses, and photo identification cards for non-drivers. Identification cards can be issued at any age and are valid for 5 years.
After you arrive in the US, choose a medical clinic and physician according to your health insurance provisions. The Hall Health Center, conveniently located on the UW campus, is a preferred provider for many health insurance plans. It provides service to UW students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. Its hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. 24-hour care is available at several nearby hospitals, including the University of Washington Medical Center. For life-threatening emergencies, dial 911 on any telephone (9911 from a UW campus telephone).
Your dependents (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) are eligible for TD (Trade Dependent) status. Dependents who are not Canadian citizens must apply for TD visas at a US consulate. Although the spouse and children of TN employees usually enter as TDs, they are not required to do so. They may enter in other visa classifications for which they qualify, such as F-1, J-1, TN, or H-1B. Domestic partners are not eligible for TD status but may enter and reside temporarily in the U.S. as visitors, but as such would not be permitted to work or study.
TD status prohibits employment in the US.
Study in TD status
There is no restriction on study for persons in TD status.
Childcare for young children
Many childcare services are available on the UW campus and in the community.
Children and schools
To enroll your children in school, contact the Seattle Public Schools Admissions Center after you arrive. Be prepared to provide your child’s immunization records, verification of date of birth, and prior academic records.
The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a community organization located on the UW campus, provides a variety of activities designed to enhance interactions between UW internationals and Americans. FIUTS offers programs of special interest to spouses of students and scholars from abroad. Opportunities include conversation groups, cooking classes, and trips and tours.
It is your responsibility to understand and comply with the terms of your TN status during your stay in the US. A violation of the immigration regulations could have serious consequences. Review this information carefully and contact ISO if you have questions.
Report address changes
Persons in TN status must notify US Citizenship and Immigration Services of all residential address changes using form AR-11.
Renewal of TN status
The I-94 record indicates your TN status in the US, as well as the dates, occupation, and employer associated with that TN status. To renew your TN status you may either:
- Make a timely departure and return to the US following procedures detailed under “Coming to the US in TN Status.”
- Apply by mail for a renewal of your TN status with the assistance of your hiring department and ISO. Note that this option requires the UW to file an immigration petition on your behalf, and only the UW Vice Provost for Academic Personnel has authority to sign this form. Outside attorneys are not permitted to represent the UW’s interests in immigration matters.
Government regulations do not limit the number of years you may hold TN status. However, TN status is meant to be temporary. Although TN status can be renewed in increments of up to three years, without limit, each request for extension must satisfy US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that your employment is temporary and that you will depart the US upon completion of your work assignment.
Keep your passport, I-94 record, and other important documents in a safe place. Report a lost or stolen passport to the police, as your government may require a police report before issuing a new passport. To renew or replace your passport, contact your consulate in the US. While in the US, always carry with you a photocopy of your passport’s identity page. When traveling, carry the original documents but guard them carefully against theft.
Work only where and when approved
Your TN status is job and employer-specific. It is possible to hold more than one job but each must be a TN-approved occupation and noted on an I-94 record. It is possible to change employers using the procedures described in “Renew your I-94 record when needed.”
Depart the US in a timely manner
TN does not provide any “grace period” for departure. Your lawful status in the US ends either when your paid employment ends or when your I-94 record expires, whichever comes first. Following completion of your TN employment you must depart the US immediately. You may return to the US as a “visitor.”
Pay your taxes
Recipients of US-source income are required to file a yearly tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Contact the IRS for more information.
You may be surprised to learn that US law requires foreign nationals 18 years of age and older to carry “registration” documentation with them “at all times.” For individuals in TN and TD status, evidence of registration is your most recent Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record or, if you were issued an electronic I-94 record, the entry stamp in your passport. The law is found at INA § 264(e) and the list of documents that qualify as evidence of registration is found at 8 CFR § 264.1(b).
Travel within the US
If you travel by air, train, bus or ship within the US, you may be required to show your passport and I-94 record when boarding. Keep photocopies of your passport and I-94 in a separate location from the original documents. Photocopies do not substitute for the originals but can make replacing them a bit easier in the event they are lost or stolen. Guard your documents carefully!