Employing foreign nationals has become increasingly difficult. When seeking to employ individuals from Mexico or Canada employers can take advantage of temporary professional employment authorized by Treaty NAFTA (“TN”). NAFTA is a trade treaty between the U.S, Canada and Mexico which allows free movement of professionals across the borders for employment. A TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level for an initial period of up to three (3) years. There are more than sixty (60) types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants including accountants, engineers, computer system analysts, management consultant, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.
To be eligible for a TN visa, you must be a “professional” in a “qualifying position.” Canadians may apply for a TN visa directly with Customs and Border Patrol officers at the border or at the airport before they board a plane. Mexicans, however, must first apply for a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate.
Recently, President Trump has been pushing for more stringent immigration regulations which could mean an overhaul of TN visas. While TN visa cancellation requires cancellation of NAFTA through the congressional majority, ramping up the prerequisite conditions for TN visa issuance needs only a signed Executive Order. On May 18, 2017, the Trump Administration issued notice to Congress of its intention to renegotiate NAFTA. The Congressional notice does not specify whether the negotiations will address the TN visa program, but does state that the negotiations are aimed at modernizing NAFTA to “support higher paying jobs in the United States and to grow the U.S. economy.” While the broad language of the Administration’s notice to Congress makes it unclear whether or not the professional visa provisions of NAFTA will be renegotiated, it seems reasonable to expect that the provisions will at least be reviewed as part of the process.
For now, employers can continue to utilize TN visas as a means to employ professional workers coming from Canada and Mexico.
For more information about employing foreign workers, please contact our immigration attorneys Joel Pfeffer, Elaina Smiley, Gary Sanderson or Laura DeGeer. Contact information is available by clicking the links below.