The US Department of State (DOS) has updated its visa reciprocity schedule for Mexican citizens, providing two potential options for visa validity periods. First, Mexican applicants for TN status can now acquire four-year rather than one-year visas. This change will save many Mexican holders of TN status the need to renew annually while holding approval for a three-year TN visa.
TN visas are among the most convenient visas available to Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement. This treaty went into effect in 1993 and later became the United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement in 2020. Though its title has changed, it has remained virtually unchanged concerning visa requirements.
These visas allow Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in more than 60 professions for a specific employer. These visas offer employers and workers an incredibly convenient and flexible option. In addition, unlike other employment-based visa alternatives, such as the H-1B, there is no cap on the number issued annually.
As a result, these visas are particularly crucial after H-1B visas reach the annual cap. For example, under a TN visa, qualified individuals may enter and work in the US for three years. In addition, they can renew their TN status in three-year increments with no fixed limit on the number of potential renewals.
In 2016 however, the DOS reduced the validity period of most non-immigrant visa stamps for Mexican citizens from 36 months to only 12. This reduction affected Mexican TN visa holders’ ability to travel. It also led to frequent mistakes by US Customs and Border Patrol officers in issuing I-94 records at the border.
For example, records would state that the TN visa holders’ period of stay capped out at 12 months. Though this matched the validity period of the visa stamp, this timeframe did not match the permitted three-year period. This miscommunication often confused employers and workers. As a result, form I-9 would repeatedly need to be re-completed at the reported expiration date of Form I-94, and the worker would need to correct the issue before this date.
Under the new visa reciprocity schedule, Mexican TN workers can receive a TN visa stamp for 48 months rather than 12. This adjustment will likely reduce recording errors and costs for those renewing their TN visa after the three-year expiration period.
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