Transitioning From 1 to 3 Year TNs

Question: I just applied for and received my 1 year TN Visa renewal on Oct. 5th, 2008 at the Vancouver airport while under the impression that once the 3 year extension is approved my TN could be amended and be good for 3 years.

My lawyer has just informed me that this is not the case and in order to have a 3 year TN I would need to reapply. The costs involved in flying to Canada including legal fees involved have put me in debt. Would I really need to go through all this again in order to get my current TN visa amended to 3 years?

Reply: Unfortunately, it appears so. Your current TN may be amended, but that process involves filing new paperwork. The new rule extending TN visa status from 1 to 3 years does not provide any fast track amendment procedures or automatically extend current one year TNs to three year TNs.

In order to take advantage of the new 3 year TN, individuals will need to either (a) apply for a 3 year TN at the border or applicable airport; or (b) request a 3 year TN extension by filing an I-129 petition with USCIS. You will need new paperwork specifically requesting the 3 year period of TN status (e.g. in the employer support letter and/or in the I-129 forms).

At the moment, 3 year TNs may only be available through USCIS. According to information gathered from the Buffalo office, CBP has not received guidance from its headquarters on processing 3 year TNs. Once CBP does begin to issue 3 year TNs, it will be interesting to see whether it will allow recent TN approvals to immediately reapply for a 3 year TN or make individuals wait until their current TN status nears expiration before issuing a 3 year TN.