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Trump Administration Notifies Congress of Intent to Renegotiate NAFTA

Author: Kara Kelly (Raleigh)

Published Date: May 19, 2017

The White House formally notified Congress on Thursday of the Trump administration’s intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The notification letter from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer marked the start of a 90-day window to consult with members of Congress on developing negotiation priorities before beginning formal negotiations with Canada and Mexico as early as August 16, 2017.

Currently, there is no indication that renegotiations will impact NAFTA-related immigration programs. However, under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, the administration’s negotiation objectives are required to be made public 30 days before formal negotiations begin. While the letter to Congressional leadership did not discuss any specific changes to NAFTA, the administration indicated that it would aim to modernize outdated chapters of the agreement and address challenges faced by U.S. consumers, businesses, and workers.

NAFTA Immigration Programs

Among other economic and trade relationships established under NAFTA, the agreement created the TN nonimmigrant classification, which allows certain citizens of Canada and Mexico to work temporarily in the United States in a professional capacity. The agreement also provides an expanded range of permissible business activities for Canadian and Mexican citizens in B-1 visitor status and permits Canadian citizens to submit L-1 intracompany transferee petitions directly at U.S. ports of entry and pre-flight inspection stations for adjudication by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Whether the Trump administration intends to alter existing immigration programs under NAFTA is not yet known. Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor any developments which may impact Canadian or Mexican citizens admitted in TN, L-1, or B-1 status.

Kara Kelly  (Raleigh)

Kara Kelly
*Currently licensed in New York only. Kara practices primarily employment-based immigration, assisting businesses and individuals with obtaining nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for foreign nationals. Kara previously worked at a boutique immigration law firm in New York, where she handled nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications for individuals of extraordinary ability in a wide variety of creative industries. She also prepared visa applications for multinational managers, as well as...