DOS Discusses TN Visa Stamp 1-Year Validity Rule

In early 2010, the U.S. Department of State adjusted the Mexico Reciprocity Schedule reducing the validity period of most non-immigrant visas issued to citizens of Mexico. As result, citizens of Mexico were only eligible to receive a TN visa stamp from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate for a maximum period of 1-year.

This change led to the incongruous scenario where a Mexican citizen was authorized to travel under his/her TN visa stamp only for a 1-year period, but upon entry to the U.S. could obtain authorization to remain and work in the U.S. for up to a 3-year period. This meant that while such a TN visa worker could remain and work in the U.S. for a 3-year period, he/she  generally could not travel after the 1-year expiration of his/her TN visa stamp unless a new TN visa stamp was obtained.

In a recent AILA liaison meeting, U.S. Department of State (DOS) officials from Mexico City explained the reason for this change. See AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12050245, pg. 9 (Posted 05/02/12). As Mexico issues work permits for American citizens valid for only one year, the DOS stated that U.S. law requires that similar visas for Mexican citizens be limited to one year.*

However, the DOS stated that it had previously approached the Government of Mexico about adjusting their work permit regime, but without success. Id. The DOS also indicated that it will continue to revisit the issue, as such an adjustment would benefit both U.S. and Mexican citizens, and also ease workload on both sides. Id.

*The U.S. government determines the validity period for non-immigrant visas issued to non-U.S. citizens based on the validity period of visas issued to U.S. citizens by the non-U.S. citizen’s country. See INA § 221 (c)