On May 9, 2008, Citizenship and Immigration Services published a proposed regulation to extend the permitted period of admission in TN status for Canadian and Mexican professionals under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) up to three-years. NAFTA allows individuals from Canada or Mexico to enter the United States to work for or provide services to an organization in the U.S. provided the proposed services fall within one of the designated occupations, including Computer Systems Analysts, Economists, Engineers and Management Consultants.

At present, the maximum period of admission in TN status is one year. The new regulation would apply both to applications at the border as well as to applications filed with CIS to extend TN status for individuals already present in the United States. The goal of the new regulation is to reduce the administrative burden of annual renewal applications. If the regulation eventually becomes effective, it will be a welcome change to many individuals who either make annual trips to the border or file applications to extend their TN status.

There is no limit on the period of time an individual may qualify for TN status, provided the nature of the services continues to be temporary. In this regard, however, the commentary to the new regulation specifically confirms that the doctrine of “dual intent” does not apply to TN professionals. Dual intent allows a foreign national to be in the United States temporarily yet at the same time pursue lawful permanent resident status (i.e. “a green card”) to be able to remain indefinitely. Currently, only the H-1B and L-1 visa categories benefit from dual intent. Accordingly, individuals with TN status need to continue to plan carefully if they desire to obtain lawful permanent resident status.

The comment period ends June 9, 2008. Comments may be submitted via the Internet at  http://www.regulations.gov or by e-mail to rfs.regs@dhs.gov. Comments need to include a reference to “DHS Docket No. USCIS-2007-0056.” There also is the option to submit comments by mail or courier.