LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, but many considered the talk mere bluster. Yet, Trump’s hard-lined approach towards negotiations means that NAFTA may very well be on the chopping block. If the U.S. withdraws from NAFTA, there could be real consequences, not only to free trade, but also to immigration.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, certain professionals are permitted to work freely across the border. This means that a Canadian with a job offer in an approved profession would need nothing but the job offer to obtain a work visa under NAFTA. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, accountants, architects, computer systems analysts, economists, engineer, foresters, hotel managers, certain types of designers, lawyers, librarians, mathematicians, consultants, research assistants, social workers, urban planners, vocational counselors, and doctors, scientists, and teachers qualify for a work visa under NAFTA. These visas are known as “TN” visas, and they qualify many individuals to temporarily work in the U.S.

Trump’s NAFTA talks have raised uncertainties about whether professionals in the U.S. with a NAFTA visa will be permitted to stay if the U.S. withdraws and has raised questions about whether professionals in the future will be able to come work in the U.S. under a TN.

The New York Times reports that Trump could withdraw from NAFTA with an executive order. In light of recent executive orders that have sowed chaos for immigrants (most notably, Trump’s “Muslim ban” and his wind-down of DACA), it is quite possible that Trump might simply choose this route, meaning that Congress would have to act retroactively in order to re-establish the agreement (or discussions), if it acts at all.

If Trump withdraws from NAFTA, it could cause serious changes to supply chains. Tariffs could rise and the auto industry could be seriously impacted. The New York Times notes that Canada and Mexico may continue forward with the trade agreement, which could put the U.S. at a disadvantage when it comes to trade.

The reality is that a withdrawal from NAFTA could disrupt businesses, lives, and the cost of goods. Those who are applying for TN visas are reasonably concerned. The O’Brien Law Group is an immigration law firm in Louisville, Kentucky who works closely with individuals who want to work or immigrate to the U.S. Our firm is closely watching the implications that the NAFTA renegotiations may have on those who are currently working in the U.S. on TN visas and those who wish to work in the U.S. on a TN visa.

According to the CBC, a Canadian news source, the country currently has no intentions of leaving the negotiation table. Mexico also intends to continue to try to resolve its differences with the U.S. at the negotiation table. While Canada and Mexico are not expected to accept some of the more extreme demands expected this week, it appears that Justin Trudeau and Enrique Nieto are both committed to keeping the discussion open.

As it stands, NAFTA remains in force, as does the TN. People are still crossing freely and receiving the visas which are valid for three years. If you are considering applying for a TN, there are pre-approval processes you can use to make crossing the border easier. Visit http://robrienlaw.com/ to learn more.



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