Step 1: UH job offer
UH may sponsor a prospective employee for TN employment after a job offer from a UH department has been accepted. That is, TN sponsorship may be initiated only if an employment agreement exists between a UH department and a foreign national. Once a job offer has been accepted, the department must determine whether the individual is eligible to work in the U.S. If the person does not already have employment authorization for the UH job, the proper authorization must be secured before employment can begin. The TN classification may be an option for work authorization if the initial eligibility requirements are met.
It is important to note that UH does not classify stipend or fellowship recipients (e.g., postdoctoral fellows) as employees. This means UH cannot seek TN classification for non-salaried appointments. Instead, the J-1 classification may be the most appropriate option.
Step 2: Determine TN eligibility
UH units may pursue TN sponsorship if the following minimum requirements are met:
- The foreign national is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- The foreign national has accepted a temporary or non-tenure track job offer from UH;
- The job falls within one of the USMCA professions;
- The foreign national possesses the required education and skills for the USMCA profession; and
- The position requires an individual in that professional capacity.
Step 3: Determine how to apply for TN status
After the UH department determines that TN classification is appropriate, the TN request process may begin. The department and prospective TN employee has two options to obtain TN status: (A) by applying for TN admission at a U.S. port of entry or (B) by UH filing a petition with USCIS while the worker remains in the U.S. Submission of a late request may result in a TN beneficiary’s inability to start working on time or even the loss of legal immigration status in the U.S.
|(A) TN entry||(B) TN petition request|
Use this option when the employee is outside the U.S. and will enter to start TN employment, or if they are in the U.S., but plan to travel abroad and reenter in TN status. UH does not need to file a TN petition with USCIS before a foreign national can apply for TN entry.
The department does not need to submit a prior TN request to FSIS to proceed with this option.
Canadian citizens do not need to apply for TN visas at U.S. embassies or consulates.
Mexican citizens are required to obtain TN visas from U.S. embassies or consulates. Departments need to consider the waiting periods for visa interview appointments and visa issuance. Plan ahead to allow enough time for the employee and any family members to obtain the necessary visas to enter the U.S.
See Step 4a: Apply for TN entry for the next steps.
Use this option when the employee is currently in the U.S. and cannot depart and reenter to begin UH TN employment. FSIS will prepare a TN petition that must be submitted to USCIS well before the intended employment start date.
Submit this type of request to FSIS through the college/school HR specialist no later than two months prior to the requested TN start date. Please note:
See Step 4b: File TN petition for the next steps.
Step 4a: Apply for TN entry
The information in this section applies to situations where an employee will acquire TN status by applying for TN admission at a U.S. port of entry.
To facilitate TN entry, the UH hiring unit needs to send the employee a copy of the offer letter and a TN support letter. The employee needs to follow the steps below to apply for a TN visa (if Mexican) and TN admission to the U.S.
1. Apply for a TN visa.
Canadian citizens can skip this step and proceed to “2. Apply for TN admission at a U.S. port of entry” below.
Mexican citizens must have a valid TN visa in their passports to apply for TN admission at U.S. ports of entry. Individuals who already have TN visas that will be valid on the date they arrive in the U.S. do not need to apply for new ones and may proceed to “2. Apply for TN admission at a U.S. port of entry” below.
To apply for a TN visa, the employee needs to visit the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. embassies and consulates website to view the visa application requirements and to make an appointment for a visa interview. It is best to apply at the U.S. embassy/consulate having jurisdiction over the place of residence, though they may apply at any U.S. embassies/consulates worldwide that permit third country nationals’ applications. Anyone who was ever a visa overstay in the U.S. must apply for the visa at a consular office in their country of nationality.
TN visa application requirements differ by embassy/consulate, so the employee needs to check directly with the specific U.S. embassy/consulate on the requirements for the visa application if there are any questions.
Generally, all TN visa applications must include:
- DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page;
- Visa interview appointment confirmation page;
- Proof of payment of visa fees;
- A passport-style photograph that meets DOS‘s nonimmigrant visa photo requirements;
- Mexican passport valid for at least six months beyond the approval notice’s end date;
- UH employment offer letter and TN support letter that includes:
- UH job description;
- Anticipated length of employment (duration may not exceed three years);
- Qualifications needed for the job; and
- Terms of employment (i.e., salary, full-time or part-time, worksite, etc.);
- Evidence of any applicable licensure requirements for the position;
- Proof of eligibility for employment (i.e., diploma/transcript showing the requisite degree and/or other credentials. If degree was received from an educational institution outside of Canada, Mexico or the U.S., a foreign credential equivalency statement issued by a reliable evaluator must be attached); and
- Any other documents required by the specific U.S. embassy or consulate.
If a TN worker has any family members who will come to the U.S. as dependents, they need to follow the TD entry procedures.
2. Apply for TN admission at a U.S. port of entry.
Next, the employee applies for TN admission at a U.S. port of entry up to 10 days prior to the start date on the UH letter/approval notice and bring the following items to the port of entry:
- US$50 application fee (Canadians only);
- Valid TN visa in passport (Mexicans only);
- Canadian or Mexican passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended employment end date (if the passport will expire earlier than the end date stated on the TN support letter, a shorter period of stay may be granted);
- Proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship (if no Canadian or Mexican passport);
- UH offer letter and TN support letter from a UH department;
- Documentation of license (if required for the job or USMCA profession); and
- Evidence of qualifications (diplomas, transcripts, etc.). If degree was received from an educational institution outside of Canada, Mexico, or the U.S. it must be accompanied by an evaluation from a reliable service that specializes in evaluating foreign educational credentials (see NACES or AICE member lists).
Also present TD admission documents for any accompanying family members.
Individuals are not guaranteed entry to the U.S. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry will review all documents and ask about the purpose of the visit. These officers have the discretion to admit a person in TN status and any family members in TD status and may refer them to a more detailed secondary inspection.
When the TN employee is admitted into the U.S., all documents must be returned and an admission date stamp is placed in their passport with the notations “TN” (worker) or “TD” (dependents) and a date indicating the period of authorized stay in the U.S. CBP will issue an electronic Form I-94 for each person to access and print at the CBP‘s I-94 website. The admission stamp with notations and the Form I-94 printout are proof of admission to and legal immigration status in the U.S.
TN employees and TD family members need to keep copies of their passport biodata/expiration pages, visas, admission stamps, and Form I-94 records permanently in case any of these documents are lost or stolen.
Send copies of entry documents to FSIS.
After the TN employee is admitted into the U.S., send the Immigration Specialist the following documents so we can update our records and check their admission:
- Completed Contact Information Form;
- Copy of offer letter and TN support letter;
- Copy of Form I-94 printout from CBP‘s I-94 website;
- Copy of admission stamp with notations in passport;
- Copy of TN visa in passport (if Mexican);
- Copy of passport biodata page (if new/renewed); and
- Copies of the Form I-94 printout, visa, and passport biodata page for each TD dependent (if applicable).
Step 4b: FSIS processing for TN petition
The information in this section applies to situations where an employee will acquire TN status via a petition filed with USCIS.
UH colleges/schools/departments/units need to follow each step below to complete and submit TN requests to FSIS.
1. The UH department initiates a TN request.
The UH department works with the TN beneficiary to obtain the necessary information and documentation for the TN request packet. The department completes/gathers its portion of the documents listed on the TN Request Form.
If any document is not written in English, provide a translation and a translator’s certification.
2. The HR specialist reviews the TN request and attaches documents.
The UH department forwards its portion of the TN request packet to the HR specialist for the college/school/unit. The HR specialist reviews these documents and attaches any additional documents.
The HR specialist sends the complete request packet to an Immigration Specialist at FSIS.
The college/school/department (as appropriate) requests the filing fee checks, indicating that the checks be returned to the unit. The unit hand-delivers the checks and one of the following mailing materials to FSIS as soon as possible:
- Pre-paid FedEx mailing label;
- Pre-paid USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate mailing label; or
- Two bar codes for mailing USPS certified mail (Mānoa units only).
Note: The TN employee may pay for the filing fee and/or for mailing.
4. FSIS processes the request and mails the petition to USCIS.
Once FSIS receives the request from the HR specialist, we will review it. As long as all requirements are met, we will complete the following:
- Prepare USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker;
- Prepare a cover letter for the TN petition;
- Prepare USCIS Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service (if requested); and
- Review Form I-539/I-539A for any TD dependents (if applicable).
After receiving the filing fee checks and mailing label/bar codes, FSIS will mail the petition to USCIS. FSIS will file-drop a copy of the petition to the HR specialist and to the employee.
5. USCIS accepts the petition and issues a receipt notice.
Upon receiving the TN petition, USCIS will conduct an initial review to ensure the petition is being timely filed with the appropriate fee. If USCIS determines the petition has been properly filed, it will mail a receipt notice to FSIS and we will email a copy of it to the HR specialist and employee. Please note the following regarding different types of TN petitions:
|Petition type||UH employment||International travel|
|Change of TN employer||UH employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|Concurrent TN employment||UH employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|TN amendment||Changes to TN employment may take place after USCIS approves the petition.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|TN change of status||Employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition. Employment may begin prior to approval if the beneficiary has another type of valid work authorization.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|TN extension||Employment may continue for up to 240 days after the prior TN authorization end date, provided the petition was timely filed, until USCIS renders a decision on the petition.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
Under regular processing, it generally takes USCIS 2-4 months to adjudicate petitions.
If premium processing service is requested, USCIS will act on the petition within 15 calendar days (“Act on” = approve, deny, request further evidence, or notify of intent to deny). USCIS offers this service for an additional fee, which may be paid by the college/school or beneficiary.
While the petition is pending, departments can check its status using the receipt number and view average processing times on USCIS’s case status website.
If the petition is approved, USCIS will mail a TN approval notice (Form I-797A or I-797B Notice of Action) to FSIS. FSIS will send the following documents to the HR specialist for distribution:
- Memo to the employee;
- Original approval notice for the employee; and
- Contact Information Form (only for new employees), which the employee needs to complete and return to FSIS after starting employment.
TN status automatically begins/continues upon the approval notice’s start date. The employee does not need to leave the U.S. and reenter to begin/continue TN employment unless a Form I-797B has been issued. If a Form I-797B was issued, the individual must follow the TN entry procedures to begin TN employment.
Cancellation of employment
If TN employment is cancelled for any reason, the HR specialist must notify an Immigration Specialist immediately so we can withdraw the petition.