My answer is a bit long, so please bear with me. I want to make sure you have accurate information, because the consequences are great.
There is a harsh general rule pertaining to TNs who stop employment.
If you quit, or are terminated from, your job you must leave the U.S. with your family within ten days of your last day of work. (As we will see below, there is other action you can take to avert forced departure.)
A word about the “ten day” rule:
Yes, the rule is harsh. Ten days is not much time cut your ties to the U.S. and renew links to Canada. Technically the rule is even more severe: you do not have even 10 days to act. The INS rules do not explicitly allow any additional time whatsoever!
Fortunately, In practice, INS has not acted against people who act within 10 days. The agency recognizes that a person who has been here for some time must wind down affairs. This is especially true if the NAFTA family has been here for a number of years. The agency also recognizes that job changes often come with no advance warning.
No written rules cover 10 day leave for TN terminations. In fact, some immigration lawyers feel that the rule is a "myth so prevalent that even the INS believes it." Nevertheless, the INS has some guidelines in similar non-immigrant situations. For example, when INS denies mail
extension applications, the effect is similar to lost employment—the TN is no longer valid. INS gives 10 days or even more time if warranted in these situations:
"If an extension application is denied and the applicant has 10 days or more left on his previously authorized stay, he shall be requested to effect his departure on or before the expiration of that previously athorized stay, unless there are exceptional circumstances warranting additional time. If an extension application is denied and the applicant has less than 10 days left on his previously authorized stay, or such stay has already expired, he shall be requested to effect his departure on or before 10 days from the date he is notified of the denial, unless there are exceptional circumstances warranting additional time. The alien, however, is deemed within status for the filing of an otherwise approvable new petition within a reasonable time, depending on the particular circumstances."
Nevertheless, to be safe, I encourage my clients to act well before the last day on the job.
There are strategies for remaining legal with minimum personal disruption when your job changes. Readily available procedures will preserve your legality during job transitions. These procedures include:
-a timely filing mail application of change of status from TN to B-2,
-leaving and entering the country as a non-visa Canadian and
-changing TN employer by mail or at the port of entry.
To keep this answer as short as possible, let me discuss only one strategy, the last option, "Terminated and With New Employer":
If you have a new employer ready to hire you, you can apply for another TN. You must actually have the approval before you can start work with the new employer. You can either do this at the border, or by mail. If you file a timely mail application, you can remain in the U.S. while awaiting the INS decision. Even though you can continue to work for the first employer as long as the I-94 has not expired. You cannot work for the second employer until you receive a new I-94.
It is rare that a second employer will wait for a mail application. In fact, most Canadians use the quick border procedures to get a new TN under these circumstances.
Does this answer your question?
JOSEPH C. GRASMICK, Lawyer
U.S. Business Immigration for Canadians
300 International Drive
Williamsville, NY 14221 U.S.A.
Phone: (716) 842-3100
Website: Canada to U.S. Business Immigration
Telephone consultation: http://www.grasmick.com/consult.htm
Author of "Grasmick’s TN Handbook for Canadians---How to Work in the U.S. Under NAFTA": http://www.grasmick.com/handbook.htm
Answered By: Joseph C. Grasmick - 9/16/2009