What happens if I get fired, lose my job, or fail to renew my TN Visa before it expires? - Resources Blog - US Immigration FAQs - Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law - Buffalo NY

Depending on the circumstances, a TN Visa holder that loses their employment or fails to renew before it expires might be eligible for a grace period allowing them to remain in the US while they take action to preserve their legal status. But there are a LOT of rules to consider, and breaking the rules could mean “unlawful presence.” Let’s find out how to avoid that worst-case scenario.

TN Visa Grace Periods

We’ll start with the good news. US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has established the following grace periods in limited circumstances for TN Visa holders:

  • 10-Day Grace Period. The 10-day grace period allows you to prepare to depart the US or take other actions to extend, change, or otherwise maintain lawful status. It is calculated from the last day of your TN Visa status from your USCIS Form I-797 Approval Notice, or your I-94 admission record, whichever comes first. If you are using the grace period for a change of employer, you CANNOT work during the grace period.
  • 60-Day Grace Period. The 60-day grace period allows you to take action to preserve your status in the US without penalty if your TN Visa status was still valid when your employment ended. The grace period is calculated from your last day of employment and cannot go beyond the expiration of either your >USCIS Form I-797 Approval Notice or your I-94 admission record, whichever comes first. If you are using the grace period for a change of employer, you CANNOT work during the grace period.

What happens if I get fired or lose my job?

TN Visa status is employer-specific. This means that a TN Visa only authorizes you to work for the employer under the conditions the TN Visa was approved. If the conditions of the employment change significantly, including termination of employment, the TN Visa becomes invalid.

What happens if I fail to renew my TN Visa before it expires?

If your TN Visa has expired or is about to expire, you automatically have a 10-day grace period to either depart the United States or file for a renewal (“Extension of Status”) with USCIS. The 10-day grace period is calculated from the last day of your TN Visa status from your USCIS Form I-797 Approval Notice or your I-94 admission record, whichever comes first.

What is “unlawful presence?”

Here’s all the bad news. Losing your job or failure to file to preserve your TN Visa status with USCIS within either the 10-day or 60-day grace periods could mean you’re out of status. It’s against the US immigration laws to remain in the United States beyond your authorized period of stay, and can result in the accrual of “unlawful presence” and a bar from re-entering the United States. According to USCIS:

Unlawful presence is the period of time when you are in the United States without being admitted or paroled or when you are not in a “period of stay authorized by the Secretary. You may be barred from being admitted to the United States for:

  • 3 years, if you depart the United States after having accrued more than 180 days but less than one year of unlawful presence during a single stay and before removal proceedings begin;
  • 10 years, if you depart the United States after having accrued one year or more of unlawful presence during a single stay, regardless of whether you leave before, during, or after removal proceedings; or
  • Permanently, if you reenter or try to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled after having accrued more than one year of unlawful presence in the aggregate during one or more stays in the United States.

Failure to renew your TN Visa in a timely manner, or to depart immediately after the loss of employment, may lead to your ineligibility for future travels to the United States.

What should I do?

In these three scenarios, the following options generally apply:

  • File for a new TN Visa through USCIS Form I-129. You will have no more than 60 days to file for a new TN Visa while applying during either the 10-day or 60-day grace period. You are NOT authorized to work for a new employer until you receive approval from USCIS.
  • File for a change of status through USCIS Form I-539. A change of status is generally filed to change to dependant status, i.e., TD Visa, H-4 Visa, etc., or to business visitor status (B-1 or B-2).
  • Depart the United States. If you are not able to find new employment or file for a change of status within the allotted grace period, you should make arrangements to depart the United States as soon as possible to avoid accruing unlawful presence.

Additional Outside Resources

How to Apply for a TN Visa Our TN Visa Lawyer Services About TN Visas

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