TN Visas: Visas for Canadian and Mexican NAFTA Professional Workers
The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa designed for Canadian and Mexican professionals, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA professionals (Canadian and Mexican professionals) are allowed to work in the United States for a U.S. or foreign employer. The NAFTA professional must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico in order to qualify; permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are unable to apply for TN visas.
In order to qualify for a TN visa, all of the following must apply:
- The applicant must be a Canadian or Mexican citizen
- The job offer in the United States must require a NAFTA professional
- The applicant’s profession must be on the approved NAFTA list
- The applicant must work for a U.S. employer in a full-time or part-time job. Applicants are not allowed to be self employed while in the U.S.
- The applicant must have the necessary qualifications to be classified as professional in their field
- Canadian professionals should obtain a TN visa if they are residing in a another country with a non-Canadian spouse and child. In this case, obtaining the visa would allow the professional’s spouse and child to enter the United States under TD visas, otherwise the spouse and child would not be allowed entry. Canadians do not need to obtain a visa to enter the United States, however, the TN visa will grant them the above stated privileges. Canadian Professionals may simply apply at the border and obtain TN status, instead of obtaining a TN visa.
Mexican Professionals: Mexican professionals must first obtain a visa in order to enter the United States. Unlike Canadian citizens, Mexican citizens must obtain a visa in order to enter the U.S.
- Applying for an interview is the first step in the TN application process. Waiting times vary between locations, so it is imperative that the applicant apply for an interview as soon as possible
- The applicant should file form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa.
- The applicant should pay the nonimmigrant visa application processing fee of $140 USD for TN visas
- The applicant should include a letter of employment from a U.S. company, providing the following information
- Evidence that the position offered required a NAFTA professional
- The applicant must provide evidence that they will be working in the U.S. in a professional capacity. The applicant should provide evidence that they have been working in a professional capacity either in Canada or Mexico as a citizen of that country. The employee may either work part-time or full-time but may not be self-employed
- Qualifications of the applicant, including their educational and professional background indicating their they are qualified for the position as a professional
- Documentation on the duties and responsibilities of the applicant as an employee in the United States
- The applicants expected length of stay
- Arrangements by the U.S. employer to pay the employee
- Proof of licensure of the anticipated employee along with any other supporting documentation should be included
- Evidence that the company has complied with Department of Homeland Security regulations and any state laws
- The applicant must have a valid passport with an expiration date at least 6 months after the intended period of stay in the United States
- The must provide a 2x2 color photograph. A photograph is not required for those applying for TN visas in Mexico.
The applicant must show that their stay in the United States is only temporary. The applicant should include a list of any social and economic ties to their country of permanent residence, such as family members and any employment positions waiting for them when they return. Evidence of property and a permanent living arrangement in the applicant's country of permanent residence should be included.
The applicant and employer must show that the applicant has the appropriate educational requirements for the position, according to North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Evidence should include degrees or other certificates. If the degree is from a foreign institution, then it must be evaluated from an accredited credentials evaluation service, to determine its equivalency in the U.S.
The applicant must also provide evidence that they are experienced in their field. Evidence should include letters, contracts, and other records from previous employers. If the applicant is self-employed, then they should include records that prove this.
If your TN visa application is denied, you may reapply as long as you can provide new evidence to overcome the previous decision.
Licensure is not required in order to obtain a TN visa. Licensure is a post-entry requirement, however, once the applicant has entered the U.S. they must provide proof of licensure in order to abide by the state and other sub-federal authorities that enforce this requirement.
Click here for a complete list of NAFTA professional occupations
TN visas are valid for up to 3 years and may be renewed indefinitely, however, it may be difficult to renew if the border official believes that the visa is effectively being used instead of a green card. To apply for an extension of stay, the applicant should file Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status along with the I-539 filing fee of $290 USD.
The spouse and children under 21 years of age are able to enter the United States with the TN visa holder and will be given TD status. Spouses and children of TN visa holders do not need to be Canadian or Mexican citizens in order to enter the U.S. with the primary visa holder. TD visa holders are not allowed to work in the United States, however, they are free to study.
Please note that spouses and children entering the United States to join the TN visa holder must present a valid I-94 at the Consulate or Embassy in order to show that the TN visa holder is in the United States under valid TN status.
Canadian Spouse and Children of TN Visa Holder:
Canadian spouses and children of a TN visa holder do not need to obtain TD visas in order to enter the United States.
Mexican Spouse and Children of TN Visa Holder:
Mexican spouses and children of a TN holder must obtain TD visas from a U.S. embassy or consulate. Mexican professionals must obtain a TN visa upon entry to the United States.