New TN Employees
STEP 1: Acceptance of a UH job offer
STEP 2: Determination of TN eligibility
STEP 3: TN entry or TN petition
STEP 4: USCIS processing (applies only to TN petitions and not to TN entries)
STEP 1: Acceptance of a UH job offer [top]
Prospective employees can only enter the U.S. in TN status with a job offer from a U.S. employer. Likewise, if a prospective UH employee is already in the U.S. and needs TN petition approval for a change of status, change of employer, concurrent employment, or amended employment, UH can only file a TN petition on his/her behalf if he/she has accepted a job offer from a UH department (i.e. an employment relationship exists between the UH department and the foreign national).
Once a UH department enters into an employment agreement with a foreign national, the department must determine whether he/she is eligible to work in the U.S. If he/she does not already have employment authorization that will allow him/her to work at UH, he/she will need the proper authorization before employment can begin.
Tenure-track positions: TN classification is not an option for tenure-track positions. For tenure-track positions, UH units must request H-1B or O-1 classification.
NOTE: UH does not classify stipend recipients (e.g. post-doctoral fellows) as employees. This means UH cannot seek TN classification for foreign nationals coming to UH as stipend recipients. Instead, the J-1 Exchange Visitor classification may be the most appropriate immigration status for such positions.
STEP 2: Determination of TN eligibility [top]
Minimum TN eligibility requirements:
- The foreign national must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
- The foreign national must have a job offer from a U.S. employer
- The profession must be on the NAFTA professions list
- The foreign national must possess the required education and skills for the profession
- The position must require an individual in that professional capacity
STEP 3: TN entry or TN petition [top]
After the UH department has determined that TN classification is proper, the department should assist the individual with the appropriate procedures below so he/she can obtain TN status:
OPTION 1: Employee enters the U.S. in TN status
If the employee will enter the U.S. to obtain TN status, no prior petition needs to be filed. The employee should review the TN entry procedures for more information.
After the TN employee arrives in the U.S., departments should send the following items to FSIS:
- Copy of UH department’s support letter used for entry
- Copy of passport biodata/expiration page
- Copy of both sides of the I-94 card (entry date stamp & notations must be clear)
- Copy of TN visa in passport (if applicable)
- Completed Contact Information Form
OPTION 2: UH files a TN petition with USCIS
UH is permitted, but not required, to file a TN petition with USCIS on behalf of Canadian citizens
who are outside the U.S. and will seek TN admission. TN entry (Option #1 above) is still available to individuals who would prefer to
apply for TN entry without TN petition approval.
UH must file a TN petition on behalf of an employee before he/she can begin UH employment in the following situations:
- The person is currently in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status (e.g. F-1, J-1), needs to change to TN status, and will not depart and reenter the U.S. before UH TN employment will begin.
- The person currently holds TN employment with another U.S. employer, will be changing employers to UH, and will not depart and reenter the U.S. before UH TN employment will begin.
- The person currently holds TN employment with another U.S. employer, will be concurrently holding UH employment, and will not depart and reenter the U.S. before UH TN employment will begin.
FIRST, if a TN petition is required, the UH department should complete/gather the following documents for the TN request:
SECOND, the department should forward the TN request to the college/school/unit’s Administrative/ Personnel Officer (AO/PO). The AO/PO should review the request, attach any necessary documents, and send the complete request to FSIS, Attn: Signe, PSB 102-106.
THIRD, FSIS will prepare the TN petition and return it to the AO/PO with instructions on payment of fee(s) and mailing to USCIS.
- Petitions for TN changes of status and changes of employer must be received by USCIS no later than the business day on or before the employee’s current status end date. If USCIS these types of TN petitions late, the person will no longer be in valid status and may begin accruing unlawful presence.
- When preparing a TN request, the department should ask the foreign national whether he/she has any family members who will require a TD change of status or extension.
- UH can request periods of up to 3-years on each TN petition.
- UH can submit a petition to USCIS up to 120 days prior to the intended TN start date.
- Once the petition is sent to USCIS, adjudication through regular processing takes 2-3 months on average. Premium Processing Service is available for an additional fee – USCIS will act on the petition (i.e. approval, denial, or a request for additional evidence) within 15 calendar days of receipt.
- AOs/POs should consult with FSIS if either of the following situations apply:
- The foreign national is currently in F-1 status with a graduation date or F-1 status/OPT end date that will occur more than 60 days prior to the intended TN start date.
- The foreign national is currently in J-1 status with a program end date that will occur more than 30 days prior to the intended TN start date.
STEP 4: USCIS processing [top]
These procedures apply only to TN petitions filed with USCIS. Ignore this section if the employee obtained/will obtain TN status by entering at a U.S. port of entry.
USCIS will mail a receipt notice to FSIS if the TN petition is properly and timely filed.
Change of status to TN: If UH is filing a petition for a change of status to TN from another nonimmigrant status (e.g. F-1, J-1), the employee should not leave the U.S. until the petition is approved by USCIS. If he/she leaves the U.S. while a change of status petition is pending with USCIS, the change of status will be considered abandoned. If an employee knows he/she will need to travel abroad while the petition is pending, the UH department must notify FSIS BEFORE the petition is sent to USCIS.
Change of TN employer or concurrent TN employment: The employee may not begin UH employment until USCIS approves our petition.
TN extension: The employee may continue UH employment from
the petition start date once FSIS receives the USCIS receipt notice.
Departments can use a copy of the USCIS receipt notice to show
employment eligibility for up to 240 days from the prior TN end date while the petition is pending. Receipt notices are often delayed. To ensure the receipt notice arrives in time to begin UH employment, departments should send the TN petition to USCIS at least 3 weeks prior to the requested start date.
USCIS processing time
- Regular Processing: Normally takes 2-3 months on average.
- Premium Processing: USCIS will act on the petition (i.e. approval, denial, or a request for more evidence) within 15 calendar days of receipt. This service is available for an additional fee.
See the USCIS Case Status Service website to check the status of pending petitions and to see average processing times.
When the petition is approved, USCIS will send a TN approval notice (Form I-797A Notice of Action) to FSIS. The original bottom portion of the approval notice belongs to the employee and should be kept in his/her passport. FSIS will keep the original top portion of the notice, which is the employer’s copy. FSIS will notify the AO/PO/contact when the approval notice has arrived.
TN status will automatically begin/continue upon the TN approval notice start date. The employee does not need to leave the U.S. and reenter to begin the TN period.
If an employee cannot begin employment at UH for any reason, the UH department must notify FSIS immediately.