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Department of State provides option of four-year TN Visa for Mexican Citizens

The U.S. State Department recently updated its visa reciprocity schedule for citizens of Mexico, and now provides two visa validity period options for TN visa applicants. Mexican citizens may request a 48-month TN visa validity period by paying a visa reciprocity fee of $382. Alternatively, they can request a 12-month TN visa validity period by paying a reciprocity fee of $104. This option also applies to TD visa applicants (the dependents of TN visa holders). The visa reciprocity fees are in addition to the $160 visa application fee (MRV fee). The visa reciprocity fee is only charged if the visa is approved.

Background

Pursuant to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) (previously the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)), TN status is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who desire to work in the United States in one of the occupations listed in the USMCA schedule.  A TN worker can enter the United States to work for up to three years at a time, and TN status may be extended for three-year periods for as long as the person maintains “nonimmigrant intent” – the intent to depart the United States at the end of their stay in TN status. Dependents are not authorized to work while in the United States. Canadian citizens are visa exempt and are granted TN status at a port of entry or preflight inspection station, but Mexican citizens are required to obtain a TN / TD visa from a U.S. Consular Post abroad prior to entering the U.S.

Effect of the new Four-Year Visa Option

This State Department offering is a welcome change for Mexican TN visa applicants. Prior to this change, the reciprocity schedule only allowed for the issuance of a 12-month visa. The 12-month visa required considerable effort by the visa holder to schedule and attend annual visa renewal interviews in order to maintain the ability to travel internationally. The 12-month visa validity also commonly caused I-94 admission errors when entering the United States. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers would on occasion erroneously limit the TN workers’ period of stay as indicated on the I-94 to one year (to coincide with the TN visa validity period), rather than the permissible 3-year period of stay (which remains unchanged). Now that Mexican TN visa workers can be issued TN visas valid for 48 months, this error will likely occur less frequently.

If you have any questions regarding the updates to the reciprocity schedule, or applying for a TN visa, please contact your Mintz Immigration Attorney.

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Author

Lindsey H. Steinberg

Practice Group Associate

Lindsey H. Steinberg is an attorney at Mintz who focuses her practice on complex corporate immigration matters. Lindsey handles work-related visas, including both nonimmigrant and immigrant applications and petitions; responds to federal agency audits and requests for evidence; and counsels employers on PERM supervised recruitment and other immigration issues.