Sponsoring or Extending a TN

TN status is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who are coming to the U.S. to engage in specified professional activities under provisions of the NAFTA treaty.

Coming to the U.S.
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Change in USCIS Policy

As of September 11th, USCIS can deny an application or petition at its discretion when the initial documentation provided is not deemed sufficient for approval--without allowing the applicant the opportunity to submit additional evidence. Read more. Always follow instructions on our website for up-to-date information on policies and fees. 

Fee Increase

Effective October 1, 2018, the USCIS fee for Premium Processing is $1,410.

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Eligibility

TN sponsorship requires the scholar be:

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Before You Sponsor

TN sponsorship is generally applicable to salaried teaching or research positions at Columbia. For other types of positions, please contact the ISSO for guidance on eligibility. Do not consult or engage an external attorney.

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How to Sponsor

There are two ways:

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How to Sponsor, Option 1: Applying through admission at a U.S. border  

CUMC departments should contact ISSO-CUMC.

Please Note: Mexican citizens must first obtain a TN visa through application to a U.S. consulate.

Step 1.

Log in to the Scholar Sponsorship Portal (SSP) with your UNI and password to initiate an online application for TN sponsorship

This must be initiated by the department, not the scholar. Contact us if you are a department administrator requesting access to the SSP.

Step 2.

Prepare a letter for your scholar printed on department letterhead.

An individual may not enter the U.S. in TN status more than a week in advance of the employment start date and your letter should not be dated more than 30 days before your scholar presents it at the border.  Use this sample letter.

Step 3.

If your scholar is Mexican, he or she must have an unexpired TN visa for entry. They must first apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate.

The applicant must prepare the following documents:

Step 4

Both Mexicans (with a visa) and Canadians may apply for admission in TN status at a U.S. port of entry

Upon entering, the immigration officer should:

Other Notes

Canadians will need to pay a $50 fee at the border, plus $6 for an I-94 admission/departure paper card if crossing at a land border.

 Be sure your TN checks the electronic I-94 arrival/departure record for accuracy a day after admission.

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How to Sponsor, Option 2: Applying Inside the U.S.

Things to Consider

A petition requires additional documentation, and it takes USCIS a long time to process the petition. 

 

There is no way to predict when it will be approved and the scholar cannot begin to work until they are in TN status.

If you would like it to be processed more quickly, there is an optional USCIS Premium Processing fee which guarantees action on the petition within 15 days of receipt. 

How to Apply Inside the U.S.

CUMC departments should contact ISSO-CUMC.

Step 1

Login to the Scholar Sponsorship Portal (SSP) with your UNI and password to initiate an online application for TN sponsorship

This must be initiated by the department, not the scholar. Contact us if you are a department administrator requesting access to the SSP.

Step 2

Gather your documents and checks

The department must pay all required fees. When preparing a Check Request for Accounts Payable, use the ARC supplier "U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, USCIS Service Center, 75 Lower Weldon Street, St. Albans, VT 05479 Request check(s) payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Use only "hold for pick-up".  

  • $460 I-129 petition

  • $370 I-539 change of status/extension of stay application for dependents (If no spouse or children dependents, this is not a required fee).

  • $1,410 Premium Processing fee. Optional additional fee to expedite the USCIS adjudication process to 15 calendar days rather than the usual 6 months processing time.

All fees must be on separate checks.

Step 3

Hand-deliver the documents and checks to us

We're located in the Nash Building, 3280 Broadway (between 132-133rd. St.) in Suite 510 on the 5th floor.

Step 4

Wait for the approval notice

We will file the TN I-129 petition with USCIS and will inform you when the approval notice is ready to be picked up by your department. The envelope will also contain copies of petition documents for your TN employee.

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How to Extend TN Status

Extending
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How to Extend, Option 1: Extending Through Admission at a U.S. Border

Before You Extend

You may request TN status for up to three years at a time. Although there is no time limit for TN status it does require “nonimmigrant intent” and the individual may face increasing scrutiny about their intent if they continue to extend over a period of years.

How to Extend Through Admission at a U.S. Border

Please follow the same instructions for the initial application above.

CUMC departments should contact ISSO-CUMC.

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How to Extend, Option 2: Extending in the U.S. by Petition to USCIS

Before You Extend

Begin the process 6 months before your intended TN’s start date or as soon as possible within that window. It can take USCIS five months or more to adjudicate a petition

You may expedite the petition processing to a turn-around of 15 days from the date USCIS receives it for an additional USCIS Premium Processing fee.

You may request TN status for up to three years at a time. Although there is no time limit for TN status it does require “nonimmigrant intent” and the individual may face increasing scrutiny about their intent if they continue to extend over a period of years.

How to Extend in the U.S. by Petition to USCIS

Follow the same steps above.

CUMC departments should contact ISSO-CUMC.