TN Visa Professional Passport Validity Requirement for Air Travel

Question: I am traveling to Hong Kong on my Canadian passport, but my passport expires in Feb. 2008. I know for some visas it's required that your passport be valid for at least 6 months to re-enter the U.S. Will I have any problems coming back into the U.S. under TN visa status?

Answer: As of January 2007, Canadian citizens must present a valid passport when entering the United States at air ports-of-entry. Therefore, any Canadian citizen applying for a TN or applying for re-entry to the U.S. under valid TN visa status at an airport has to present a valid passport. 8 C.F.R. § 212.1 (a) (1). The general rule is that a passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the expiration date of the contemplated period of stay. See 8 C.F.R. 214.1(a)(3)(i). However, Canada is part of an agreement where its citizens do not need to have a passport valid for six (6) months beyond their period of admission. See 9 FAM § 41.104 n.2.1.

Thus, if traveling by air, your passport should be valid until the expiration date of your proposed or current TN visa status. In my experience with foreign nationals (who are not Canadian citizens), U.S. Custom and Border officials have not universally upheld the passport validity rule. Lately, they have begun to more routinely enforce the rule and have limited some foreign national’s stay in the U.S. until the validity date of their passports. As the passport rules for Canadian citizens with respect to air travel are relatively new, I haven’t seen the rule applied to Canadian citizens applying for TN visa status yet. As a precautionary matter, I would be prepared for U.S. immigration officials to start enforcing the rule on Canadian citizens.

As of yet, a passport is not required for Canadian citizens applying for TN visa status at a land-port-of entry. However, the requirement may be looming. As result, the passport validity rule may soon be applied to land border TN visa status applications and re-entries.