The TN visa enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to be admitted to the United States to engage in "business activities at a professional level" in certain occupations.
The TN visa program is the immigration component of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to be admitted to the United States to engage in "business activities at a professional level" in certain occupations, for one or more specific employers (provided that each employer applies for a separate TN visa). Legal permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not eligible for the TN visa.
TN status may be granted for an initial period of up to three years, and this status may be extended indefinitely in three-year increments.
- The profession must be on the list of qualifying positions.
- The individual must have at least a bachelor's degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional.
- The individual possesses the requisite educational background and experience for that position.
- The individual must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
- The individual must have a prearranged job that is not self-employment.
- Canadian citizens apply for TN visas at the U.S. port of entry.
- Mexican citizens must apply for TN visas in a U.S. embassy or consulate in advance.
The HIO staff can assist the Harvard community in making the determination whether the TN visa is appropriate for an employee. The TN visa is a temporary visa category and is not appropriate for permanent positions.
For the additional information regarding TN status, please contact the HIO and review the NAFTA handbook.
In order to maintain TN status, individuals are expected to engage in employment only with the sponsoring employer through which the TN status was obtained.
As TN status is employer specific, individuals may not accept compensation, including honoraria, from any other entity. Individuals in TN status invited to give a lecture, collaborate, conduct research or present at other institutions can receive reimbursement for reasonable living and transportation costs only. An individual may work for more than one employer, but must obtain a separate TN based on each employer.
The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of a TN visa holder are eligible for TD status. Individuals in TD status are not permitted to work, but they may engage in part-time or full-time study. If an individual in TD status is a Canadian citizen, he or she is exempt from the consular visa requirement.
TD Travel Abroad and Reentry
For information on TD travel see the Travel section below.
The TN visa is employer specific, which means that the DHS approved status authorizes the TN visa holder to work only in the position specified in the Harvard employer letter or an Affiliated hospital letter. An individual who has an TN approval from another employer is not eligible to work at Harvard. A TN worker may work for more than one employer, but TN status must be approved for each.
Social Security Numbers
TN visa holders are eligible for social security numbers.
How to Apply
You must take your passport, your Form I-94, and your letter of employment to the Social Security Administration Office located at 10 Fawcett Street, 1st Floor, Cambridge.
At the Social Security Administration office, you must complete the SSN application form. You will receive notification of your SSN in the mail. The process usually takes four to eight weeks. If you have not heard within this time period, please contact the HIO. You may call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Administration website with any questions. Once you have obtained a U.S. Social Security Number, it is not necessary to apply for a new one if the employment changes. If you lose your SSN Card and need to apply for a replacement card, you must prove that you are employed in the United States at the time of your re-application.
When to Apply
You must have been in the United States for at least ten days in TN status. This waiting period assures that your record will have been updated in the Government's database.
The following is general information regarding taxation of international scholars. To review detailed tax information (including tax return filing during tax season) please visit the tax section of this website.
International scholars should be aware that taxes may be deducted from salaries if funds are from U.S. sources. The available income after taxes may be less than anticipated as scholars may be subject to federal, state, and/or Social Security taxes which can range from 14-30% of one's total income. The amount of taxes scholars may pay depends on the type of income they receive and their tax status in the United States. In addition, there are many tax treaties between the United States and other countries which may exempt certain earnings from taxes. Those who receive funding from Harvard will receive information from the University Financial Services office.
All international scholars and their dependents with U.S source income are required to report their annual income by completing tax forms between January 1 and April 15 of the following year. Accompanying dependents on TD visas must complete at least one tax form as well.
To help guide individuals through the tax filing process, the HIO has purchased Sprintax, a web based tax return preparation software designed exclusively for international students, scholars, and their dependents who are nonresidents for tax purposes. It is available to anyone with a valid Harvard ID and PIN. Users will need their HUID and PIN to access the software.
Due to legal restrictions, the HIO staff is not able to answer questions regarding individual tax situations. For more information, visit the tax section of our website.
For travel outside the U.S. the following documents are required for re-entry to the U.S.
TN Visa Holders
- Unexpired passport
- Employer letter that was used in obtaining the most recent TN status
- Your original diploma or degree certificate
- Citizens of Mexico: must have a valid TN visa stamp in their passports
TD Dependent Visa Holders
- Unexpired passport
- Proof of relationship with TN visa holder (marriage certificate or birth certificate)
- Citizens of Mexico: must have a valid TD visa stamp in their passports
Individuals are admitted in TN visa status in three-year increments initially, but the TN status may be renewed indefinitely. The more expeditious way to extend TN visa status or to move to a different employer in TN status is to travel outside the United States and obtain the TN visa status by reentry. The process is identical to that of the original TN application. The longer way to extend TN status is to have the HIO file for an extension application with a USCIS center. It could take up to four months for the process. Although there is no fixed time limit on the TN visa, individuals are required to have a residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning.
Transfers and Leaving Harvard
Individuals in TN status are required to leave Harvard on or before the end date indicated on their Form I-94. They should make sure that their departments are informed of their intending departure and their future contact information.
Remaining in the United States
Individuals intending to remain in the United States after leaving Harvard should take the initiative to prepare and submit proper paperwork to maintain lawful immigration status. This may involve applying for TN status with another employer or changing to an entirely different visa category.