Overview on INS forms for TN status maintenance in US

A special economic and trade relationship for the United States, Canada and Mexico was created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens are permitted temporary entry to US to engage in business activities using the TN non-immigrant visa classification.

For a maximum of three years the workers with TN visa are allowed to stay in U.S. For an indefinite period of time they are also allowed to extend their status in three year increments. There is no maximum time limit on the TN status as long as the U.S. Company and a TN worker can satisfactorily document the intent to remain temporarily in the U.S. In case the TN worker is no longer working in a TN designated occupation or wants to permanently immigrate to the U.S. he or she can change status to a another visa category which allows the preferred type of change.

Extension of Stay 

New application can be made at the port of entry or an application for an extension of status can be field by mail with USCIS in case stay is extended beyond the period mentioned on the I-94 card. In the case of a Canadian citizen procedure is similar to when a new application is made. Prior to entering US the admission package need to be assembled and presented to a Border Patrol agent.

Applying for a new visa with the US consulate again for a Mexican applicant with TN visa may not be easy, depending on the backlog at that consulate; a more convenient option is a mail-in extension application. By presenting a new application at the port of entry or by mailing an extension request with the appropriate USCIS office in the US an extension of TN status can be requested.

The request for extension for a maximum of three additional years should contain details regarding the need for the extension, whether it’s for the original assignment, any change in employers and if any substantial change in the position originally approved. Using INS forms I-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, with the filing fee of $320, a applicant’s passport copy and I-94 card and documentation supporting the extension also request can for TN visa status extension can be file in case applying at the port of entry is not convenient or possible. Before the expiration date listed on the I-94 card an application for extension should be submitted.

Day application reaches the appropriate USCIS office it’s considered as filed. The law allows for continued period of work authorization for the TN employee for a period of 240 days beyond I-94 expiration date while the petition is pending with the USCIS officer. After filing new application on time and before the new application is approved if the TN worker has to travel outside of the U.S. after the current I-94 has expired a new application will need to be made through the port of entry.

The TN worker will be allowed an additional 240 days of work authorization after the current I-94 expires or until the USCIS makes a final decision on the extension request, whichever occurs first when a request for an extension of TN status has been mailed to the USCIS. A new TN application will need to be made at the port of entry before the foreign national will be allowed to re-enter the U.S. if the TN worker leaves the U.S. after the current I-94 has expired and before the USCIS has processed the extension request.

The TN worker should not remain in the U.S. for longer than the period requested on the extension application in all instances even if the extension was requesting only a short amount of additional time and not the maximum three year period and even if the application continues to be pending beyond that date. Once it gets approved the date on the extension approval will be the control date beyond which the TN worker cannot stay in US.

Filing any extension request as early as possible is advisable but the law provides for continued authorization to remain in the U.S. as long as the application is received by USCIS before the expiration date listed on the I-94 card. This continued authorization is valid for a period of 240 days, until a final decision is made on the extension application filed by the TN visa worker, or until the end of the additional time requested, whichever comes first. By applying for extension as soon as possible TN worker can continue his legal stay in U.S. as long as possible.


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