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Came to the US from Canada on a regular visa, got a job offer while I was here. Do I need to leave the country and re-enter to switch to a TN visa, or can I submit something while I am here to change my status? If so, what do I need to submit and where?

I've tried Googling around, haven't found official information on this.

  • What do you mean by "regular visa"? Canadians don't normally require a visa to enter the US. – phoog Jul 16 '15 at 21:46
  • Hm, so since I entered without a visa, then maybe I can't do the change of status... – shim Jul 17 '15 at 3:24
  • not so. Even though you don't have a visa, you still have a status. The procedure for Canadians in the US doesn't require you to have entered on a visa since the vast majority of Canadians in the US don't have visas. – phoog Jul 17 '15 at 5:32
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The term used by the US is change of status (when changing to immigrant status, the term is adjustment of status.)

The form for changing from one non-immigrant status to another is the I-539. However, you will not file I-539, because, in that form's instructions, you will find this:

An employer must file Form I-129 on behalf of a TN professional worker who is currently in the United States.

So, if you want to change status, your employer has to petition on your behalf using form I-129. If you are outside the US, it is optional for the employer to file I-129; instead, you can apply at the border. This may be easier since the form is 36 pages long, and your employer may be reluctant to deal with more paperwork than necessary.

As a Canadian, you don't actually need to get a TN visa before applying at the border; you just show up and apply. You will need certain documents and a $50 fee; information is available from several web sites:

Among the requirements are:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • Education and employment records to establish your eligibility for TN status
  • A letter from your prospective employer offering you a job, which must be listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA.
  • $50
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    It should be clarified that the correct form for this type of adjustment of status is the I-129, not the I-539. – Greg Hewgill Jul 16 '15 at 23:54
  • @GregHewgill Done, thanks. Is that sufficient? It's a rather small change. – phoog Jul 17 '15 at 1:35
  • I drove in, and looks like my I-94 doesn't list that entry, is that a problem? – shim Jul 17 '15 at 3:20
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    "The term used by the US is adjustment of status." This is wrong. "Adjustment of Status" exclusively refers to the process of getting permanent residency inside the US. The term you want is "Change of Status". – user102008 Jul 17 '15 at 4:13
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    @pericynthion I've corrected that. – phoog Jul 17 '15 at 5:29

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