Many foreign workers come to Illinois and the Chicago area for jobs. Those holding Canadian or Mexican passports can seek special TN nonimmigrant classification permits to live and work for three years. Here is how the TN designation works under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Professionals eligible for the TN status
TN professionals are technically not seeking immigration to the United States but a chance to work for companies here. The types of professionals eligible for the TN designation are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, teachers and similar professionals. Your profession qualifies under the regulations, and the position you seek must require a NAFTA professional. The applicant must have pre-arranged a full- or part-time job in the United States and must have the qualifications to work in that position. Self-employed individuals do not qualify.
Some differences exist between Canadian and Mexican citizens, as Canadians do not have to apply for a visa yet Mexicans must. Canadians need only show proof of their citizenship and an approval notice from USCIS for Form I-12. Your prospective employer may also apply for your visa. Mexican citizens should apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.
Conditions of a TN designation
TN permits allow you to live and work in the United States for three years. During that period your spouse and family can live with you. They may not work but may attend school. You can also apply for an immigration extension at the end of your initial time period.
After working in Illinois for a time, you may want to make your immigration status permanent. Those wishing to do so should ensure that they go through the appropriate channels to ensure that they remain here legally by following all procedures and filling out the proper forms.