Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) TN status permits temporary stay and employment in the U.S. for citizens of Mexico and Canada. The main purpose of this visa program is to facilitate temporary employment in the U.S. for qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens, as well as to strengthen business and trade relations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Many foreign nationals on TN status question what would happen if they were to lose their jobs. Will their TN status be automatically terminated? Will they be forced to leave the U.S. right away?
The answer to the questions above is NO. In January 2017 USCIS introduced a new ruling (see “Final Rule For Certain Employment-Based Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs”), according to which individuals on TN status is eligible for 10-day and/or 60-day grace periods. Grace period is a limited amount of time a foreign national is allowed to stay for in the U.S. in addition to his/her authorized stay (to i.e. enter/depart the U.S., extend/change lawful status).
10-Days Grace Period
The rule allows a second grace period of up to 10 days after the end of an authorized validity period, which provides a reasonable amount of time for such nonimmigrants to depart the United States or take other actions to extend, change, or otherwise maintain lawful status. 8 CFR 214.1(l)(1).
60-Days Grace Period
The final rule also establishes a 60-days grace period during each authorized validity period. The purpose of this grace period is to enhance job portability and allow foreign workers on TN status to pursue new employment, should their job be terminated. This means that even if you lose your job while on TN status, you will still have up to 60 consecutive days to find a new employer or to adjust/change your status.
Grace periods present high-skilled nonimmigrant workers with more flexibility in maintaining their lawful status in the U.S., as well as provide an opportunity to extend/adjust their status should they be eligible for other employer-sponsored nonimmigrant classifications or employment in the same classification with a new employer.
If you are currently on TN visa and considering changing an employer or changing your status, it is highly recommended to consult with an expert in immigration law before taking any actions. At Root Law Group, we offer free in-office consultations with our experienced immigration attorneys. Call us today at (323) 456-7600 and schedule your appointment!