USA and the UK
Who is Eligible for the TN Visa?
The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa that is open to professionals under the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA) to help reduce barriers between the US, Mexico and Canada.
For Canadian citizens and Mexican citizens, to qualify for TN visa status, they must have a prearranged job in the US and the focus of their stay in the country must be for business purposes. The TN visa is not open to self-employed workers.
To qualify for the TN visa the following criteria needs to be met:
- Be a citizen of either Canada or Mexico
- Have qualifications in one of the accepted NAFTA professions
- Be able to provide evidence that the job in the US requires a NAFTA professional
- Have secured a part-time or full-time job in the US before arriving in the country
- Have adequate educational qualifications.
All applicants for the TN Visa, regardless of whether they are citizens of Canada or Mexico, have to meet these requirements. Nevertheless, there are also additional criteria that vary depending on whether the applicant is coming from Canada or Mexico.
TN Visa Job List
All eligible professions are detailed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) produced each year by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. As well as the job title, the OOH also provides details of the qualifications, duties and responsibilities that must be met for the position to be accepted as part of the TN visa scheme.
Generally speaking the following professions do qualify for a TN visa – as long as all other criteria for the visa are met:
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Disaster relief insurance claims adjuster
- Graphic Designer
- Hotel Manager
- Industrial Designer
- Interior Designer
- Land Surveyor
- Landscape Architect
- Management Consultant
- Mathematician (including Statistician)
- Range Manager/Range Conservationist
- Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)
- Scientific Technician/Technologist
- Social Worker
- Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)
- Technical Publications Writer
- Urban Planner (including Geographer)
- Vocational Counselor
- Medical/Allied Professionals
- Medical Laboratory Technologist
- Occupational Therapist
- Physician (teaching or research only)
- Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist
- Recreational Therapist
- Registered nurse
- Science worker
- Agriculturist (including Agronomist)
- Animal Breeder
- Animal Scientist
- Dairy Scientist
- Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)
- Plant Breeder
- Poultry Scientist
- Soil Scientist
- Education/teacher at an accredited academic institution
To meet the TN visa requirements you must be able to prove your experience and qualifications for the role and hold at least a baccalaureate degree. If you are unclear about whether your role is eligible then you should seek legal advice before submitting your application or travelling to the US.
Applying for the TN Visa if you are Canadian
You do not need to apply for the TN Visa before travelling to the US. However, you will be required to ensure you have all the relevant paperwork to hand so that it can be inspected on your arrival in the US.
You will have to present the following documents:
- Proof of holding Canadian citizenship
- Letter from your employer in the US which outlines the details of your job in the US
- Credentials evaluation (if applicable).
- Evidence of your education such as post secondary diploma, post secondary certificate or baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
If an immigration officer working at the point of entry determines that you meet the eligibility criteria for the visa, you will be admitted to the US with TN nonimmigrant status.
Applying for a TN Visa if you are a Mexican Citizen
If you are a citizen of Mexico, you need to apply for the TN Visa at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico. To be allowed to enter the US, you need to hold a valid TN Visa at the time of admission.
If you want to apply for the TN Visa as a Mexican citizen, you need to:
- File Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. While completing the form you will have to upload a photo. Once you submit the form, make sure to keep the confirmation page because you will have to take it with you to your visa interview at a later stage of the application process
- Arrange your visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico. All applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 are required to attend a visa interview. Waiting times for the interview vary so you should apply for your TN Visa as soon as possible
- Pay the TN Visa processing fee of $160. You must pay the fee before you come to the interview
- Prepare a portfolio of evidence. You have to bring a number of supporting documents to your visa interview. This should include the following:
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the US
- Confirmation page from Form DS-160
- Receipt proving that the applicant has paid the visa application fee
- Passport size photograph (if photo upload fails when completing Form DS-160)
- Letter from US employer proving that the applicant has a job offer
- Proof of meeting the minimum education or work experience requirements (in most cases a baccalaureate degree is required)
- Attend your visa interview to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the TN Visa
If your TN Visa application requires further information or supporting documents, you will be informed about it during the interview.
How long is the TN Visa valid for?
Under the US immigration law, you can be admitted to the US as a TN worker for a initial period of up to three years. However, this can vary depending on how long the job role is expected to be valid for.
If your TN Visa is about to expire and you need to stay in the US longer, you can extend it. You can do it by filing the I-129 Extension Petition. If USCIS determines that you still meet the eligibility criteria for the TN Visa and your work requires you to stay in the country for longer, your stay will be extended.
Alternatively, you can leave the US and reapply for the TN status but this can be a lengthy process.
Processing time for the TN Visa
The TN Visa processing time can vary depending on whether you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen. Since Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa beforehand and have to just prove their eligibility for the TN status at a port of entry, the waiting time takes just a few hours.
However, Mexican citizens often have to wait several months for their TN Visa application to be processed. The average processing time is around six months.
If you need to know the decision sooner, you can opt for Premium Processing. This means your application will be processed within 15 business days.
Premium Processing of the TN Visa costs $2,500 and using this option does not increase the chances of your application being approved. If you have concerns about your visa being approved you should seek legal advice to avoid any potential delays to your application for a TN visa.
Last modified on April 28th, 2023 at 4:55 am
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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.
If your application for the TN Visa is successful, your dependents can travel to the US with you. To be able to join you, they have to apply for a TD Visa for immediate relatives. This nonimmigrant visa allows the family of TN Visa holders to also come to the US. If your dependents apply for it, they will be able to stay in the US for as long as your TN status is valid.
Dependents of Canadian citizens can apply for TD-1 visas and dependents of Mexican citizens can apply for TD-2 visas. To be eligible for them, the applicants have to prove their relationship with the TN visa holder by submitting a marriage or birth certificate.
If you are offered a new position with a different US employer while on the TN Visa, you can take up the employment as long as the new job meets the requirements for the TN status. To be able to take on the new job your new employer has to file the I-129 Extension Petition on your behalf.
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.