TN Visas

Posted on: February 28th, 2014
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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1993 created the TN (Trade NAFTA) professional visa for Canadian and Mexican nationals. Foreigners in specific professional occupations may qualify for TN visa status and work in the United States. Some of the most popular professions through with Canadian and Mexican citizens enter the U.S. in TN visa status are nurses, computer systems analysts, and engineers. A wide variety of occupations are included in the list of eligible TN jobs, however.

What must I demonstrate to obtain TN Visa Status?

One may qualify for a TN visa status if:

  • the applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • the profession to be performed is listed in Appendix 1063.D.1 to Annex 1603 of NAFTA;
  • the position in the U.S. requires a professional in an occupation listed in the Appendix;
  • the applicant will work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for a U.S. employer (self-employment is not permitted);
  • the applicant has the qualifications for the profession as listed in the Appendix; and
  • the applicant can demonstrate that their stay is temporary.

How long are my family and I allowed in the U.S.?

The maximum period of admission into the U.S. in TN visa status is up to three years and extensions of stay are granted in three-year increments. There is no total limitation of stay as with some other nonimmigrant visa statuses. So long as the applicant is maintaining nonimmigrant status and the intent to depart the U.S. at the end of authorized stay, extensions can be granted indefinitely to work in TN visa status.

Spouses and children of TN visa holders are issued TD visa status. TD visa status holders may not work, but are allowed to attend school. If the spouse and/or child are not of Canadian or Mexican citizenship, they must apply for and obtain a U.S. TD visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

What does my potential U.S. employer need to give me?

The U.S. employer must provide the applicant with a letter of employment indicating that the position requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity. The letter must further include the:

  • activity in which the applicant will be engaged;
  • purpose of entry;
  • anticipated length of stay;
  • qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
  • evidence of compliance with Department of Homeland Security regulations, and/or state laws; and
  • arrangements for pay.

What professions qualify me for TN status?

A complete list of qualifying professions can be found here.

What are the specific requirements for a Canadian citizen?

Canadian citizens usually do not need to obtain a TN or TD visa at the U.S. consulate abroad for entry as a NAFTA professional. A Canadian citizen should apply for initial or extended TN visa status at a Class A U.S. port of entry with the following documentation:

  • Passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date at least six month beyond the applicants intended period of stay, which also provides proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • Letter of employment;
  • Proof of professional qualifications;
  • Proof of ability to meet license requirements, if required;
  • Evidence of nonimmigrant intent; and
  • A filing fee of $50.00 U.S. and an I-94 Arrival / Departure Form issuance fee of $6.00 U.S. for land entries only.

The Canadian citizen will not be issued a visa, per se. Instead, they will be issued a multiple entry I-94 noting the date of initial classification and entry, and the date of expiration.

The employer can file to extend the TN visa status in the U.S. by filing an I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with the Nebraska Service Center. The petition-based filing fee is currently $325.00. Alternatively, the TN visa status can be extended at the border by the employee. The employee must appear at a Class A port of entry for readmission and pay the fee over again. An updated set of documentation will be required with either the stateside or the border extension process.

What are the specific requirements for a Mexican citizen?

Unlike Canadian citizens, Mexican citizens cannot apply for TN visa status at a port of entry. They must apply for their TN visa at a U.S. consular post abroad, and must undergo an interview. Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit:

  • An online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160 found here;
  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date at least six month beyond the applicants intended period of stay;
  • One 2″ x 2″ photograph in digital format (a photograph is not required if applying in Mexico);
  • A letter of employment;
  • Proof of professional qualifications;
  • Proof of ability to meet license requirements, if required;
  • Evidence of nonimmigrant intent; and
  • A visa application fee of $190.00 U.S.

Once a TN visa is issued to the Mexican citizen, s/he must appear at a port of entry to apply for admission. There is no fee for this process. The U.S. consulate has pre-adjudicated the application and found it sufficient, so this is not usually a difficult interaction. Still, applicants and their families are advised to bring evidence of intent to return to their home countries at the end of their authorized TN stay.

The employer can file to extend the TN visa status in the U.S. by filing an I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with the Nebraska Service Center. The petition-based filing fee is $325.00. Alternatively, the TN visa status can also be extended by departing the U.S. and reapplying for a TN visa at a U.S. consular post. The nonimmigrant visa application fee will be due again. The applicant must then appear at a Class A port of entry for readmission. An updated set of documentation will be required for the stateside or the consular extension process.