Vacations while on a TN/TD visa

Question: Are there any rules about how long the TN or TD visa holder can be out of the U.S. (we are Canadians)?  The children and I (TD visa holders) hope to visit Canada for a month this summer.  My husband (TN visa holder) would travel back and forth and potentially have vacation time of two weeks. Are there rules for this?  Or do our multiple entries cover this as long as the visa is valid?

Reply: There is no specific time period governing how long a TN visa worker and his/her dependents may remain outside the U.S. and then seek re-admission – provided a return is made within the validity period of the TN/TD visa status (as evidenced on the I-94).

Under the U.S. immigration regulations, citizens of Canada and Mexico receive I-94 cards evidencing their TN/TD visa status that are valid for “multiple entry” to the U.S. 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (g) (1). The regulations state that an individual “may be readmitted to the United States in TN classification for the remainder of the authorized period of TN admission on Form I-94, without presentation of the letter or supporting documentation…provided that the original intended professional activities and employer(s) have not changed, and the Form I-94 has not expired.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (g) (1).

As long as a TN visa worker continues to work for the same employer, and in the same position as described in his TN application, then he/she should be allowed to re-enter the U.S. after a vacation by just presenting an unexpired I-94 card (Mexican citizens may also need a valid TN visa stamp). Similarly, as long as a TN visa worker continues to maintain his/her TN visa status, the worker’s spouse and children should still be able to reenter the U.S. by presenting their unexpired I-94 cards (non-Canadian citizens may also need a valid TD visa stamp). 

However, following extended absences from the U.S. (e.g., months as opposed to weeks), U.S. border inspectors may request supporting documentation to confirm that the TN visa worker is still employed with the TN petitioner and in the same capacity. In fact, border scrutiny of extended absences may become more common now that TN workers can receive I-94s for up to a three year period.

When returning from extended absences, in addition to the unexpired I-94 (and visa stamp for non-Canadians), a TN visa worker should consider obtaining a letter from his/her employer explaining the absence and confirming the TN visa worker’s employment under the same terms and conditions of the original TN application.

The spouse and children of a TN visa worker traveling separately should also consider having on hand copies of the TN visa worker’s recent paystubs to confirm that the TN visa worker is still maintaining his/her nonimmigrant status.