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Immigration News: TN Worker Proposal and Process Change for Reentry Permits

May 07, 2008

By The Immigration Practice Group

* Proposal to Increase Period of Stay for TN Professionals to Three Years* Process Change for Reentry Permits

Proposal to Increase Period of Stay for TN Professionals to Three Years

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") announced this week that it will soon publish a proposed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM") to increase the maximum period of admission for TN workers from one year to three years. The proposed rule will further allow individuals in TN status to be granted an extension of stay in increments of up to three years. (TN workers from Mexico may currently be issued a TN visa valid for three years, but may only be admitted for a period of up to one year.)

Once the NPRM is published, USCIS will accept public comments for 30 days. Following the comment period, USCIS will review the comments and generate a new draft for inter-agency review. A final rule will ultimately be published in the Federal Register, at which time the change will become effective.

The agency is under no particular timeline to issue a final rule. This proposal is part of a multi-pronged initiative announced by the Administration last August to implement administrative immigration reforms, after Congress failed to pass immigration reform legislation. For this reason, many anticipate that a final rule will be published prior to the end of the current Administration.

Process Change for Reentry Permits

U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") has recently announced a change to the way reentry permit applications are processed. Under the new process, applicants are now required to complete biometrics as part of the reentry permit application. A reentry permit application is a means of preserving permanent resident status when a U.S. permanent resident is going to be outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, such as for a temporary work assignment abroad. Before this process change, a reentry permit applicant simply needed to be present in the U.S. at the time the application was filed, and could then immediately depart the U.S. upon confirmation that the application had been received by USCIS. Under the new process, the applicant must not only be present in the U.S. at the time an application is filed but must also be present in the U.S. for the biometrics appointment, which involves having fingerprints, a digital photo, and a digital signature capture taken at an Application Support Center. It typically takes several weeks following the filing of an application for the biometrics appointment to be scheduled. As a result, individuals filing reentry permits will need to plan to be in the U.S. for a longer period of time before departing for an assignment abroad in order to ensure that biometrics can be completed.