The Office of Academic Personnel (OAP) and UW Human Resources (UWHR) are collaborating on a pilot program to extend H-1B and other visa sponsorship to staff positions. This program will start on July 1, 2023. For more information, click here.

Note: Most TN sponsorship steps are the same, regardless of whether it is an extension, amendment, a change of employer (or “transfer”), or a new TN. To help campus partners plan more effectively, we’ve included approximate times for external processes.

Method 1: Application at a U.S. Port of Entry or Consulate

Step 1: Provide the TN Letter

  • Provide the beneficiary a letter addressed to the Department of Homeland Security which includes:
    • Specific profession from this list in which the TN beneficiary will be working
    • Detailed summary of the job responsibilities, including a percentage breakdown of the job’s various tasks, salary, and anticipated length of stay (up to 3 years)
    • Minimum degree and experience requirements for the job
    • Description of how the beneficiary is qualified to perform the job and how their match the requirements listed on the TN list

Note: You may request a letter template for certain academic personnel titles by contacting the International Scholars Operations (ISO) team.

Step 2: TN beneficiary Applies for TN Admission and Enters U.S.

See steps on the Coming to the U.S. page. Canadian nationals may apply for TN admission directly at a U.S. port of entry; Mexican nationals must first apply for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. consulate abroad.

Method 2: Application through USCIS

Note: This option is available only for academic personnel already in the U.S. in another visa status and who want to change status to TN without leaving the U.S., or to extend or amend their current TN status.

Step 1: Review Process Timeline and Eligibility Requirements

Review the international scholar’s eligibility for a TN visa. Begin as early as possible, but at least 6 months in advance of the desired start date. Sponsors can contact ISO at any stage to get an estimate on how long the process will take.

Step 2: Gather Supporting Information

Obtain a copy of the offer letter and the ad from the recruitment (if a competitively recruited position). Have the scholar complete pages 1-3 of the H-1B/E-3/TN Visa Intake Form, then the unit must complete pages 4-7 of appointment information. Make sure the information on the intake form is consistent with information on supporting documents.

Step 3: Submit Visa Request

Enter the Visa Intake Form information into the H Visa Request Form (which is also used for TNs) online and hit “Submit”. The person who submits the visa request will receive an email from our ticketing system confirming receipt and including a visa request tracking number. Use this tracking number when inquiring about the status of the visa request.

Note: Only an authorized staff member in the UW department or program sponsoring the international scholar may submit a visa request. A UW NetID is required.

Step 4: OAP Reviews and Approves Visa Request

ISO will review for visa eligibility and timeline issues. The Academic HR team (AHR) will review for appointment issues. As part of this review, either team may reach out for more information or documentation.

After the review is complete, AHR will send the Conditionally Approved Visa Request to the person who submitted the visa request by email.

Note: Once the PDF has been sent, the visa request may not be altered without prior approval from the Office of Academic Personnel (OAP).

Step 5: Route Approved Visa Request to ISO

Assemble the Conditionally Approved Visa Request and supporting documents, following the guidelines in our TN Required Documents page. Route it for signature by the appropriate parties (usually the chair and dean), and then send it back to ISO at campus mail box 351245 by one of the following methods:

  • By campus mail to campus mailbox 351245
  • As one complete PDF by replying to the email sent with the approved visa request
  • As one complete PDF uploaded to the visa request using the “Manage Files” function

When the packet arrives at ISO, the person who submitted the visa request will receive an email confirming receipt.

Step 6: ISO Performs Initial Review and prepares to file with USCIS

ISO will review all documentation and contact the unit for any further information or additional documentation if supporting documents are missing or inconsistent.

Step 7: USCIS Adjudication (15 days to 12 months)

ISO will send the I-129 petition to USCIS for processing. ISO will send a copy of the finalized petition to the unit; the unit should provide this to the scholar for their records. USCIS will issue a receipt notice with a tracking number within a week, which ISO will forward to the unit as well.

Under regular USCIS processing, adjudication of the petition may take up to 12 months. This process can be expedited by paying the USCIS Premium Processing Fee, which guarantees action (meaning approval, request for evidence, or denial) on the petition within 15 days. If USCIS issues a request for evidence, ISO will work with the unit to prepare a response.

Step 8: USCIS Approval

Upon approval, USCIS will mail an approval notice to ISO, which ISO will forward to the unit. Give the original full-page notice to the beneficiary and retain a full-page photocopy for your records. Visa stamps cannot be issued without the original approval notice, and it can be difficult to reenter the U.S. without the original approval notice. If the original approval notice is lost or stolen, ISO may have to submit a new application to USCIS with additional associated fees and processing time.

Processing Time

In general, units should feel free to submit TN visa requests to ISO as far in advance of the requested start dates as they are able. USCIS will accept petitions for TN status up to 6 months before the requested start date.

New TN

Because they require an approval from USCIS, requests for new TNs usually take the longest to process. ISO recommends submitting visa requests for new TNs 6 or more months in advance where possible to allow plenty of time for USCIS adjudications.

For scholars changing to TN status from another visa status, the petition to USCIS must be approved for them to continue working after their current employment authorization ends. For scholars entering the U.S. in TN status for the first time, units should consider using Method 1 above rather than a TN visa request through ISO in order to avoid USCIS processing times.

Extension or Amendment of TN Status

For extensions or amendments of an existing TN, the petition to USCIS must be filed before the current TN expires. If the visa request is submitted to ISO so late that ISO is unable to file the TN petition with USCIS before the current TN expires, the employee may have to depart the U.S. and use Method 1 above.

Change of TN Employer to UW

For changes of employer (transfers), if the visa request is submitted to ISO too close to the requested start date, the start date may need to be pushed out and the scholar’s current TN employment extended; if that is not possible, the scholar may have to leave the U.S. and use Method 1 above. In general, the employee must not end their current TN employment until the UW TN petition is filed with USCIS.


See the Fees page for applicable information.