The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.
An individual may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:
- They are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Their profession qualifies under the regulations;
- The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
- They have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a US employer (but not self-employment); and
- They have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
NAFTA governs which evidence is required to prove whether a Canadian or Mexican citizen is a professional in a qualifying profession.
Duration of Stay
The initial period of stay is three years. To remain in the United States beyond your initial period of stay without first departing from the United States, the individual must seek an extension of stay. If you in the United States, the employer may file Form I-129 on behalf of the visa holder.
Application Requirements for Canadian Citizens
Unlike Mexican citizens, Canadian citizens are generally eligible for admission as nonimmigrants without a visa. The TN category, a nonimmigrant classification, simply reflects this general exemption from the visa requirement.
Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a TN visa at a US Consulate in Canada. Eligibility may be established for TN classification at the time of seeking admission to the United States by presenting required documentation to a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain CBP-designated US ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance / pre-flight inspection station.
You must provide the following documentation to the CBP officer:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- Letter from the prospective employer detailing items such as the professional capacity of the work in the United States, the purpose of your employment, length of stay, and educational qualifications; and
- Credentials evaluation (if applicable), together with any applicable fees.
Application Requirements for Mexican Citizens
Mexican citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant. The applicant should apply for a TN visa directly at a US embassy or consulate in Mexico. Once approved for a TN visa, the applicant may apply for admission at certain CBP-designated US ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance / pre-flight inspection station.
Any accompanying or “following to join” spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for a TD nonimmigrant status. Spouses and children are:
- Not permitted to work while in the United States, but they are permitted to study.
- Granted TD status for no longer than the period of time granted to the principal TN nonimmigrant.