The TN visa approval process depends on citizenship (Canadian vs. Mexican), and the TN visa application filing process utilized. Individuals may be approved for TN visa status for up to a 3-year period. 73 Fed. Reg. 61,332 (Oct. 16, 2008).

U.S. Border - Canadian Citizens

  • A Canadian citizen receives a decision on the TN application at the time of presentation at a U.S. port-of-entry.
  • If the application is approved, CBP will issue an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, which provides the date the employment authorization and period of TN status expires. 8 CFR 214.6 (e). See Sample I-94 form.
  • The I-94 card is the principal document evidencing a Canadian citizen's authorization to travel to, and work in the U.S. under TN visa status. 
  • Provided an applicant satisfactorily establishes the need for his/her services in the United States, CBP will issue an I-94 card valid for a 3-year period. (In October 16, 2008, USCIS extended the authorized period of stay for TN visa status from 1 year to 3 years.)
  • If an individual’s passport is valid for less than 3 years, CBP will issue an I-94 card with an expiration date coinciding with the expiration of the passport. INA § 212(a)(7)(B)(i); Inspector’s Field Manual § 15.2. In most cases, CBP will issue a new I-94 card for the duration of the initial TN approval period after the individual has returned to the border with a new passport. However, currently policies on this differ from port to port. More on Passport/I-94 expiration.  
  • Note: CBP is in the process of phasing out its paper I-94 form and is moving to an electronic I-94 record system. More on I-94 automation

USCIS - Canadian Citizens

  • Canadian citizens who file for their initial TN by mail using form I-129 will be issued an I-797B approval notice.
  • Individuals must then present this form at a U.S. port-of-entry in order to be admitted to the U.S. under TN visa status.
  • Upon satisfactory review, a CBP Officer will then issue an I-94 card similar to the process described above. 

U.S. Embassy / Consulate - Mexican Citizens

  • Mexican citizens must first file for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • If approved, a TN visa stamp will be affixed to the applicant's passport. TN visa stamps are currently valid for only a 1-year period.
  • TN visa stamp holders must then present themselves for admission to the U.S. at a U.S. port-of-entry.
  • Upon satisfactory review, a CBP Officer will then issue an I-94 card similar to the process described above. 
  • Note: The TN visa stamp only governs the length of time an individual is allowed to travel to, and seek entry to the U.S. The visa stamp should have no bearing on the length of time an individual may be admitted to the U.S. under TN status. Like Canadian citizens, Mexican citizens may also be admitted to the U.S. for up to a 3-year period. However, citizens of Mexico continue to have their periods of stay improperly limited to the expiration date of their TN visa stamp. More on TN visa stamp / I-94 issues

Re-Admission to U.S.

Canadian Citizens:

  • Canadian citizens may be readmitted to the U.S. for the remainder of their authorized period of TN visa status by presenting their valid, unexpired Form I-94, provided that the original intended professional activities and employer(s) have not changed. 8 CFR 214.6 (g) (1). 

Mexican Citizens:

  • In addition to presenting a valid I-94, Mexican citizens generally must also have a valid TN visa stamp in their passport in order to be readmitted to the U.S. under TN visa status. 
  • Under the visa re-validation process, a Mexican citizen may be re-admitted to the United States with an expired visa stamp and a valid I-94 card in limited scenarios.
  • Visa Re-Validation: U.S. border inspectors may automatically extend the validity of an expired visa stamp so that an individual may re-enter the U.S. for the duration of his/her unexpired I-94 card. The visa re-validation provision procedure is only available under the following conditions:
    • An individual possesses a valid TN I-94 card.
    • Is visiting either Canada or Mexico for a period not exceeding 30 days.
    • Has maintained and intends to resume his/her non-immigrant status.
    • Is applying for readmission to the U.S. within the authorized period of stay (i.e. during the validity period of the I-94 card).
    • Has have a valid passport.
    • Does not need a non-immigrant waiver because of a ground of inadmissibility.
    • Has not applied for a new visa stamp while in Canada or Mexico.
    • Is not a national of a country Congress considers to support terrorism. See 22 C.F.R. § 41.112 (d); and 9 FAM § 41.112 n.8.1.
  • Mexican citizens who entered the U.S. under a different visa category (e.g. H-1B or F-1), and then change to TN visa status from within the U.S. may be able to use their previously issued visa stamp to re-enter the U.S. under the visa re-validation procedure. See 9 FAM 41.112 N8.2.

Supporting Documents:

  • While technically not required, having a copy of the initial TN application support letter available can help facilitate a TN visa worker's re-entry to the U.S.
  • Individuals who have complex cases, or who were previously denied a TN, should also travel with a copy of the documentation supplied to U.S. immigration to address any prior issue, or overcome a previous TN denial. 

Revised Oct. 8, 2014.