The Trump Administration’s threats to terminate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are causing concern at companies across the United States that have long used NAFTA to recruit professional employees from Canada and Mexico under the Trade NAFTA Visa (TN Visa).
The TN Visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work temporarily in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers, as NAFTA professionals. Canadian and Mexican citizens eligible for the non-immigrant TN Visa must seek entry into the United States to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time professional position that is on the approved professions NAFTA list. The list currently comprises 67 NAFTA-approved professions, including accountants, agriculturists, astronomers, architects, chemists, dentists, doctors, engineers, graphic designers, lawyers, nurses, pharmacists, professors, scientists, software developers, social workers, and veterinarians. The TN Visa, unlike other employment-based visas, can be obtained at the U.S. border with Canada or Mexico, and there is no limitation on how long or how many times it can be renewed.
NAFTA is often thought to govern only manufacturing and trade in hard goods, like automobiles. Termination of NAFTA, however, will have implications beyond manufacturing; it will significantly impact employment-based immigration, as the TN Visa program will end upon NAFTA’s termination. This could, quite possibly, lead to the deportation or voluntary return of tens of thousands of professionally-employed individuals who are already in the United States under the TN Visa.
With the Trump Administration’s ongoing insistence on ending NAFTA, American employers have grown increasingly concerned at the possible loss of thousands of trained professional employees, the ability to quickly transfer current employees between American companies and their Canadian or Mexican subsidiaries, and the impact that the end of the TN Visa may have on their ability to recruit foreign workers.