Make Sure Passports Valid for Entire Period of TN Stay

CBP Enforcing Passport Validity Rule for Border TN Applications

In order to enter the U.S. a foreign citizen must present a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months from the expiration date of the contemplated period of stay. INA § 212 (a)(7)(B)(i); 8 C.F.R. § 214.1(a)(3)(i).

The law previously exempted Canadian citizens from presenting a passport in order to enter the U.S. 8 C.F.R. § 212.1(a)(1). With the full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative on June 1, 2009, citizens of Canada are now generally required to present a passport for entry to the U.S.

This has resulted in a processing change for TN border applications. In the past, Canadian citizens presented a passport only to document that the applicant met the citizenship requirements for NAFTA. The passport was not required as an entry document. As result of the WHTI, CBP now requires Canadian citizens to present a passport that is valid for the entire period of the proposed stay.*Otherwise, CBP may limit the applicant’s TN I-94 to the expiration date of the individual’s passport.

Different passport rules apply for petitions requesting an extension of or change to TN visa status. Foreign citizens applying for an extension of status (EOS) or change of status (COS) must have a passport that is valid at the time of filing the petition. 8 C.F.R. § 214.1(a)(3). The passport does not have to be valid for the entire length of time requested in the EOS or COS. The regulations only require that the individual “agree to maintain the validity of his or her passport.” Id. If the passport will expire prior to the proposed period of stay, the individual must eventually obtain a new passport. USCIS should not limit the petition’s validity period to the expiration date of the passport.

*Citizens of Canada still enjoy a partial exemption from the requirements of INA § 212 (a)(7)(B)(i). Canadian citizens only need to have a passport valid for the proposed period of stay. They do not need to have a passport valid for six months beyond their period of admission. 9 FAM § 41.104 n.2.1.