Those aliens who qualify for TN status but are in the U.S. on some other type of non-immigrant status may petition the USCIS to change their status to TN. In some circumstances, the alien may find it more convenient to change their status through a U.S. consulate abroad rather than through a COS petition in the United States.
In general, the following criteria must be met in order for an alien to qualify to change to another nonimmigrant status:
The following are the procedures for Change of Status (COS) to various TN statuses:
TN-1: Canadian Nationals
If an alien on another valid nonimmigrant visa wishes to apply for TN-1 through COS in the United States, they must file an I-129 petition with the USICS. All the required documents required to obtain TN-1 status must be submitted along with the form. There is a $325.00 filing fee for a COS petition.
The Canadian professional can avoid the application fee and wait time for a COS petition by simply returning to Canada and applying for TN-1 status at the border, where they would only have to pay a $50 filing fee. In this instance, the applicant would not fill out an I-129 but would simply present the necessary documentation to the interviewing officer at the border. The alien can be granted TN-1 status on the spot and will receive a new I-94 card with their duration of stay on it.
TN-2: Mexican Nationals
Mexican nationals seeking to change their status to TN-1, unlike Canadians, must receive a visa stamp on their passport and therefore must either apply for COS in the United States or go through consular processing. For COS, they must file I-129 petition with the USICS. All the required documents required to obtain TN-2 status must be submitted along with the form. There is a $325.00 filing fee for a COS petition.
If the alien chooses to obtain their visa stamp through consular processing at U.S. consulate in Mexico, they still must file the I-129 petition with the USCIS. Once they have been approved for COS they can receive their visa stamp on their passport and enter the United States on TN-2 status.
TD: TN Dependents
Generally speaking, dependents of TN status holders who are in TD status apply for renewal on an I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status). If filing for more than one dependent, then a supplement 1 must be attached to the I-539. The application fee is $$290. Please note that the I-539 must be filed simultaneously with the I-129. Canadian professionals on TN-1 status can avoid the extensive application fees by applying for renewals with their dependents at the border. The only fee involved in this scenario would be a $50 filing fee.
(Updated 10/10/2012 by AG)
For more information on the TN category, please click one of the following links: