Trade NAFTA (TN) Status
In 1993, Congress passed legislation for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The legislation contains immigration provisions for a temporary worker category for Canadian and Mexican professionals. This category allows certain Canadian professionals in selected occupations to work in the U.S. if they present a letter of offer from a U.S. employer, proof of their qualifications (usually a copy of their diploma), and proof of their Canadian citizenship at the port of entry. This status can be renewed indefinitely on a year-to-year basis. (Source: "Faculty Member's Guide to Immigration Law", Major Gooding).
J-1 Exchange Visitor Program
The purpose of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program is to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the U.S. and to return home to share their experiences. J-1 status is appropriate only for a foreign person who is coming to UAB temporarily to participate in research or teaching activities. If the person wishes to come here permanently, then efforts should be made to obtain an immigrant (Permanent Resident) visa.
The "Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement" applies to those Exchange Visitors who receive financial support from the U.S. or a foreign government, or whose skill has been listed by their country of nationality or last permanent residence as one in short supply there, or who are foreign medical graduates coming to the U.S. for graduate medical education or training. Those Exchange Visitors who are subject to this requirement, must return to their home country and remain for two years before either applying for permanent residence in the U.S. or a temporary worker non immigrant (H) visa. Waivers of the provision can sometimes be obtained, but only with difficulty.
Please note, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is the sponsoring agency that can issue the non immigrant document for a foreign medical graduate who wants to pursue medical training. Under no circumstances should an Exchange Visitor, whose objective is to pursue medical training, enter the U.S. on UAB's J-1 program as a researcher/scholar.
There are limitations on the stays of the Exchange Visitors. Short-term scholars can only stay for a six (6) month period with no possibility of extension. Professors and Research Scholars can stay for three (3) years. Students can stay for the time needed to complete their educational objective and for a period of academic training.
The processing time for J-1 Exchange Visitor status is approximately one week. For more information and the necessary paperwork needed to bring in an Exchange Visitor, please contact the IRSS staff.
H-1B Temporary Worker
H-1B status is designated for aliens employed in "specialty occupations", which require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or it's equivalent. H-1B status is valid for a maximum of six (6) years. An initial request for H-1B status may not exceed three (3) years. However, if the employment terminates prior to the H-1B expiration date, the H-1B petition is no longer valid and a notification is to be submitted to the Immigration Service. Consult the ISSS immediately if employment is terminated prior to the H-1B validity dates. The processing time for H-1B status is approximately three (3) months. The IRSS has an information packet detailing the H-1B process and the required supporting documentation which accompanies the employer petition.