Change of Status to TN Visa
1. Changing Nonimmigrant Visa Classifications
Section 248 of the INA provides a nonimmigrant, lawfully admitted to the U.S., who is continuing to maintain his or her non-immigrant visa status, the opportunity to change from one nonimmigrant classification to another. This procedure is known as Change of Status (“COS”). This rule allows a foreign citizen to change nonimmigrant visa classifications without departing the U.S.
2. COS to TN Visa Status - Canadians
Canadian citizens physically present in the U.S. under F-1, H-1B, L-1 or most other nonimmigrant visa classifications may change to TN status pursuant to INA s. 248 by Submitting Form I-129 with the Vermont Service Center. Alternatively, if a Canadian citizen does not want to file Form I-129, he or she may effectively change to TN visa status by Applying at the Border.
3. COS to TN Visa Status - Mexicans
Citizens of Mexico may also take advantage of the COS procedure and file an I-129 petition to change their current nonimmigrant status to TN visa status. Unlike Canadian citizens, Mexican citizens generally cannot effect a COS by applying at the border. If a citizen of Mexico obtains TN status by filing for a COS, the approval of the COS does not provide for travel authorization. Unless the individual possesses a valid TN visa stamp, or the visa re-validation provisions apply, the individual must obtain a TN visa stamp at the U.S. consulate in order to depart and re-enter the U.S.
4. COS Following Maximum Use of H-1B Visa
Individuals who have already used up the maximum stay in H-1 or L nonimmigrant status can immediately qualify for TN status without fulfilling the requirement of 1-year-abroad otherwise required of them before reentering the United States in H-1 or L status. Assuming the TN applicant is able to prove continuing nonimmigrant intent in the U.S., a change of status to TN could be an alternative to departing the U.S.
5. Additional Information:
- USCIS - How do I change status? 08-2008
Revised March 2010.