Trump, NAFTA, TN Visas, Canadians (And Americans)

In the light of a surprising victory by Trump, groups of people are recalibrating and doing the math on what it means for them personally.

I thought it might be helpful for some for a quick recap on Trump's view on NAFTA and specifically how it affects Canadians in (or looking to come to) the U.S. Particularly, for those using or looking to use the popular TN-1 visa (which you will recall from my previous post, is a NAFTA visa).

This is usually the new grads, laterals or people who are up for renewal and still haven't gotten the H1-B, green card or citizenship yet.

Would Trump really leave NAFTA?

... Or is that an empty political promise? Keep in mind Canada is the US's largest trading partner. CIBC recently released a report speculating that if Trump moved to withdraw from NAFTA, it is likely that it could be replaced by a Canada-U.S. deal excluding Mexico (potentially similar to the one we had in place before NAFTA). So even if it went away, there is a potential it might come back in some form between us. Although, it would be challenging to watch that get sorted out.

And if He actually left?

As President, Trump could exit NAFTA without Congress. He would invoke NAFTA's Article 2205. It simply says that a party may withdraw from the agreement six months after it provides written notice. If he does that, the NAFTA TN-1 Visa would obviously disappear along with NAFTA.

Hope that helps or is at least mildly insightful. And if it all goes south... just go north. I wonder if we'll start getting questions about Americans wanting to use NAFTA to come to Canada!

Comments (19)

Nov 9, 2016

Thanks for the post. How about Optional Practical Training? Can NYC banks facilitate transfers for analysts to European offices, if FT analysts are unable to begin work due to a repeal of work visas?

Nov 9, 2016

From what I understand, the OPT (or F Visa) is based on having gone to school in the US and has less to do with where you are a citizen of and would therefore not be related to NAFTA.

F visas let you stay 18 months (but be warned, internships in the US count against this allotment I'm told). And if you want to get an H1-B while on this Visa, you'll almost certainly need to get it on the first try as applications are annual and generally oversubscribed.

Other options I've heard is banks transferring people to foreign countries for a year and bringing them back on L visas, but it is complicated, a pain and no guarantee of success.

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Nov 9, 2016

Thank you for the reply; much appreciated. I will be using CPT for my summer internship. My friend who will start FT next summer at an NYC IB plans to go on OPT first, then apply to H1-B.

We're both worried about losing our jobs / offers due to a change in Visa laws, and not being able to recruit for IB given it's too late in the process. I'm wondering what I can do to be proactive & not be blindsided next year. I'm open to a transfer back to Europe but as you said, it is complicated.

Nov 9, 2016

There are statutes that exist to put trade policy in place. Even if he ended the deal, some of it will still be left behind. The only way he could end it is by directly implementing new trade barriers. This has to go through Congress which would be scrutinized and politicized. Republicans and Dems both seem to find Trump's brilliance fleeting, so it would be a miracle if he were able to somehow end trade with our neighbors. If he worked that hard to end it, he would have a shit storm on his hands from loss tax revenues to uncomfortable relations with Canada and Mexico to businesses hitting the exits. Hard to see this play out the way he's been preaching over the past year and a half.

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Best Response
Nov 9, 2016

Immediate impact I wouldn't expect much impact in term of skilled labor Visas. The only issue that Trump has demonstrated any real interest in is unskilled, undocumented immigration and people coming in from regions with active extremist factions.

For NAFTA I think it's an overblown issue. Trump has on several occasions said that he wants to enforce protectionist policies "until China stops its unfair practices" so his goal is going to be knocking down China's protectionist policies to make investment and sale to the Chinese economy easier for US companies. I also believe that because if you watch his 90's interviews he rarely attacked the idea of free trade and would instead rant about how "unfair" the treaty was or how it's a "really bad deal".

That said the sector I'm most likely going into is one that is negatively effected by Republican administrations. If I do this it won't kill me but I could see a noticeably smaller bonus.

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Nov 10, 2016

If you don't mind me asking, what sector are you going into? I haven't been able to think of many sectors within finance that are going to be much worse off.

Nov 10, 2016

In 2008, Obama also pledged to repeal NAFTA. Funnily enough, he had his chief of staff or someone really senior in his campaign reach out to the Canadian government to reassure them and say this was all electoral bullshit and he didn't actually mean to repeal it. Not being huge fans of his, the Conservative government leaked it to the press, making him look really stupid.

As much as I dislike Trump and his trade policies, I don't believe he means to do a tenth of what he said he would and I don't have much fear for NAFTA. I think as with Obama, it will survive

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Nov 10, 2016

Got a source? If so I will be plastering that all over my social media.

Nov 10, 2016

From the NY Times so no one can doubt the source

Nov 10, 2016

I'm also of the belief that Trump made empty promises to appeal to specific demographics in order to win (as does every President). Time will tell.

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Nov 10, 2016

Same here. That's a good thing because his pre-candidacy positions are relatively sane.

Nov 10, 2016

I'm curious about the effects of a renegotiation versus leaving NAFTA entirely. If NAFTA is opened back up, would TN's continue to be issued/renewed during that period, even if ultimately there's no impact on them within the agreement?

Nov 11, 2016

Personally, I think the US should have complete free trade with countries in the Top 40 Human Development Index. After that, free trade reverts labor standards to a less progressive time in America. India, China, etc., are akin to The Jungle days in America. Sure, this would decrease our overall GDP growth. But as we have seen in this election, median income is much more important.


Nov 12, 2016

I can't see much changing for Canada. If anything, they could benefit.
Trump vilifies countries like Mexico and China. At the other end of that, he needs countries that he can point to as "good countries" that play fair and share American values. Canada is one such country.
(Not saying this is right, but saying it's more than likely what will happen)

E.g. see the 2009 protectionist Buy American Act.. in which they (quietly) exempted Canadian companies.
A NAFTA renegotiation could be beneficial for Canada, e.g. softwood lumber. Not sure if the Trudeau government would be willing to take advantage of the situation, as I would imagine it would involve royally screwing the Mexicans. Though, I'm sure they're screwed either way.

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Nov 14, 2016

I'm currently employed using TN Visa. If I renew my TN Visa next month for another 3 years and lets say trump exits NAFTA next year, would that make my Visa invalid?

Nov 19, 2016

I'm a Canadian looking to move to the US. With a Trump victory, what's the best way to immigrate? H1-B? TN-1? F1 visa -> H1-B -> Green Card?

Nov 19, 2016

Pertaining to my personal impact of the Trump presidency; do you guys think that the number of applications from international students for business school would be far less than previous years, due to Trumps stance on immigration? Meaning that, it would be easier to get into business school since there would be less competition.

Jan 30, 2017

Here's an update to the situation. Prioritizing Americans above all - NAFTA or not, this would affect "H1B" so obviously the TN ultimatley would get affected given it's a stepping stone.

Full article here -
Google CEO Sundar Pichai Tech titans vow to fight Trump's travel restrictions
14 Hours Ago | 01:20
President Donald Trump's next target in his administration's immigration policy will focus on what Silicon Valley fears most: the work-visa programs that tech companies rely on to hire tens of thousands of workers each year, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The executive order is still a draft, according to the report, but if enacted, it could mean major overhauls in the way tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon recruit their employees. Under the order, companies would have to prioritize hiring American workers, and if they must hire foreign workers, then they must prioritize the most highly compensated, according to the report.

"Our country's immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the U.S. national interest," the draft says, according to a copy obtained by Bloomberg.

"Visa programs for foreign workers ... should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers -- our forgotten working people -- and the jobs they hold," the draft states.
Trump's order affects a number of visa programs including H-1B, L-1, E-2, and B1. H-1B visas are commonly used among tech companies to recruit high-skilled workers from overseas when they can't find domestic talent to fill positions.

Jan 31, 2017