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TN Visa (Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Workers)

Canadian and Mexican citizens who would like to come to the United States for work may be eligible for a TN Visa.

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What is a NAFTA Professional (TN) Visa?

The TN Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows Canadian and Mexican citizens who received a job offer from an American employer to work in a professional occupation in the United States.

The TN Visa was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This treaty took effect in 1994 and was meant to create special economic and trade relationships between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Mexican and Canadian permanent residents are not eligible for the TN (NAFTA Professional) visa. All applicants must have either Canadian or Mexican citizenship.

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Who is eligible for a TN Visa?

In order to obtain TN status in the United States, Canadian and Mexican citizens (aka, NAFTA professionals) must have prearranged business activities or employment in the United States.

Furthermore, employment must be one of the accepted NAFTA professions. These professions include but are not limited to the following:

  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Dentists
  • Engineers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Hotel Managers
  • Lawyers
  • Librarians
  • Management Consultants
  • Mathematicians
  • Physicians
  • Research Assistants
  • Teachers
  • Technologists
  • Social Workers

For further information about NAFTA-approved professions, consult with your immigration attorney or visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Most of these occupations require an advanced degree and expertise in a particular area. However, only Canadian and Mexican citizens can apply for TN nonimmigrant status. Furthermore, they must already have a legitimate offer to work in the U.S.

This permit allows applicants to work with only one employer either full or part-time. If you wish or intend to work for more organizations, you will need to file a separate TN visa request for each company. Those without a job offer who are self-employed are not eligible for TN status.

What are the requirements for a TN Visa?

To be eligible for a nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) Visa you must be able to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Prove your intent to return to your home country when your visa expires (or after nine years of total stay)
  • Demonstrate your strong ties with your home country such as showing proof of a spouse back home or owning real estate in your home country (recommended)
  • Hold a professional license
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Work experience cannot be used as a substitute for educational qualifications
  • Be employed full-time or part-time in the United States (Self-employment is not accepted)
man crossing the street

How to apply for a TN Visa as a Canadian Citizen

There are two different TN Visa tiers:

  • TN-1 Visa for Canadian citizens
  • TN-2 Visa for Mexican citizens

The application process for a TN visa will depend on the type of TN category the applicant is applying for.

Canadian citizens applying for a TN-1 Visa can apply at the U.S.-Canadian border if eligible. In order to apply at the border, the Canadian applicant must provide the following:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • A letter from their U.S. employer which outlines the details (purpose, length of stay, educational qualifications) of their job in the United States
  • Credentials evaluation (if applicable)
  • applicable fees for your visa

If the immigration officer at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determines that the Canadian citizen is eligible for a TN visa, the applicant will then be granted entry into the United States under TN nonimmigrant status.

Those who prefer to obtain their TN status ahead of time can have their employer file Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers) and submit it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, you can then apply to CBP for admission under nonimmigrant TN status at a U.S. port of entry (POE) or at a pre-flight inspection station. In order to apply, you must submit your I-129 Form approval notice along with proof of Canadian citizenship.

If you are already in the U.S. under a different visa status, you can submit your new application directly to the USCIS.

How to apply for a TN Visa as a Mexican Citizen

Mexican NAFTA professional workers looking to obtain TN visas must apply for their visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico. Mexican professionals can not apply at the border like Canadian citizens. Mexican citizens who would like to apply for TN status must do the following in order to secure a visa:

  • File Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
  • Schedule a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico
  • Pay the TN visa fee ($160)
  • Prepare your supporting documents
  • Attend your visa interview

Those between the ages of 14-79 must attend the visa interview. After the interview, if the consular officer approves the application, the applicant will then receive their TN visa.

woman at work

What documents are needed for a TN Visa?

Mexican citizens who can not apply for TN status at the border will need to apply for a visa ahead of time at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. In order to process the application, you will need the following supporting documents:

  • A valid passport (must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States)
  • Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) confirmation page
  • Receipt proving that the applicant has paid the visa application fee
  • Photo according to U.S. visa standards (you will be asked to upload a photo when you complete Form DS-160. However if you can not upload a photo then you will have to supply one with your application)
  • A contract or letter of employment from an employer in the United States detailing the purpose of entry, job description, length of stay, your qualification, and pay arrangements
  • Proof of meeting the minimum education or work experience requirements (at least a baccalaureate degree or other appropriate credentials)

It should be noted that additional documents may be requested to verify your qualifications and prove your ties back to your country of origin such as real estate property or family relationships.

How long does it take to get a TN Visa?

The visa processing time will depend on the citizenship of the applicant. For instance, Canadian applicants who apply for TN status at the border will receive a decision on their application in just a few hours. However, Mexican applicants are required to obtain a visa beforehand then prove their eligibility for TN status at a Port of Entry or pre-flight inspection. As a result, Mexican NAFTA professionals will have to wait around 6 months for their TN visa application to be processed.

Those who are in a hurry can apply for Premium Processing for an additional cost of $2,500. This expedited processing service will process your application within 15 business days.

people in a meeting

How much does the TN Visa cost?

Canadian applicants can directly gain their TN status at a U.S. port of entry. This will cost $50, plus an additional fee of $6 for the I-94 Card. If they choose to apply by mail with an I-129 Form, you will have to pay $460.

Mexican applicants who must undergo consular processing to obtain their visa will need to pay $160 for the DS-160 online form.

How to get a TN Visa renewal?

TN visas can be valid for up to three years. At the end of this period, you can apply for a TN Visa renewal.

In such cases, your company needs to file an I-129 extension petition at least six months before your visa expires. Your TN Visa renewal usually takes from 2 to 7 months to be processed.

If your visa expires while you are still waiting for your extension, you may need to leave the U.S. and then reapply at the border.

family on pier

Can you bring your family members to the U.S. under a TN Visa?

If you are a TN visa holder, you can bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 into the United States to live with you under a TD nonimmigrant status for dependents.

In order to sponsor your spouse or child for a TD nonimmigrant visa, the applicant will need to prove their relationship with the Canadian or Mexican citizen. The visa holder will need to submit evidence such as a marriage or birth certificate to USCIS in order to obtain a TD visa.

Dependents granted TD status will not be able to work whilst in the United States, however they will be permitted to study. In addition, the dependants’ TD status will be for no longer than the period of time granted to the principal TN nonimmigrant.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Since the TN Visa is not held to an annual cap, it is the most recommended path for Mexican and Canadian citizens. In addition, there is no limit to the permit renewals you can get.

On the other hand, the H-1B Visa status is initially valid for three years, and it can be extended to a maximum of six years. Nevertheless, it is considered a “dual intent” permit, meaning that you can seek a green card status while under it.

Those with TN nonimmigrant classification, can not directly transfer from their nonimmigrant visa to permanent residence (aka, a green card). Those receiving TN status must be able to prove their intention to leave the US once their status expires.

If you are interested in settling in the United States, you may be able to transfer to a dual intent visa, such as H1B Visa or L-1 Visa. Once you are on these visas you can then apply for permanent resident status. If you meet an American citizen while working in the United States and get married to that U.S. citizen, you may eligible for a Marriage Green Card.

Speak with one of our immigration attorneys to discuss ways to settle in the United States permanently. We can help assess your situation and determine your eligibility for permanent residence.

Our immigration lawyers can provide you with expert guidance. We have a proven track of cases of professionals that got their TN Visas.

We are happy to support you through each step of the process. Our advisors will:

  • Perform a full document check to ensure that you meet the visa requirements
  • Check if you have adequate professional qualifications to emigrate to the U.S.
  • Liaise with the USCIS and your U.S.-based sponsor
  • Provide complete support if you want to apply at a U.S. POE
  • Help you to complete your immigration forms to the highest possible standard

Contact us today to learn more about our tailored immigration guidance. Use our online contact form or call us on +1 844 290 6312 to arrange a meeting with your IAS advisor.