The TN nonimmigrant category enables qualified citizens of Canada and Mexico to temporarily enter the United States for professional business activities. This status is based on the special trade and economic relationship established among the US, Mexico, and Canada through the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It facilitates the temporary employment of Canadian and Mexican workers by US employers. TN employment must be in a profession listed in the NAFTA's Appendix 1603.0.1, and the TN employee must possess the required credentials. There is no annual limit on TN-1 admissions from Canada or Mexico.
Qualifications for TN:
- Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
- Must be engaged in a qualifying profession according to the regulations
- Must possess the necessary qualifications to be considered a member of the profession
- The US position must require a NAFTA professional
- Must have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a US employer (self-employment is not eligible)
TN Period of Stay:
The initial period of stay under TN status is up to 3 years. To extend the stay beyond the date noted on the I-94, an extension of stay must be sought by filing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, through the employer. There is no maximum limit on the duration of stay, as long as the purpose remains temporary.
TN Family Visas:
Spouses and children under 21 years old of TN visa holders may accompany or join the principal applicant under TD nonimmigrant status. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada, but they must contact the American Embassy or Consulate serving their area for information on applying for a visa. Spouses and children are not allowed to work while in the United States, but they can study.
For Canadian Citizens:
Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a visa at a US Consulate/Embassy or file a petition with USCIS. They can present the required documentation directly at the US Port of Entry to request TN admission.
- Proof of Canadian citizenship
- A letter from the prospective employer detailing information such as the professional capacity in which the individual will work, the purpose of employment, length of stay, and educational qualifications
- Credential evaluation, if applicable
A US Customs and Border Patrol agent will review the documents at the port of entry to determine eligibility for TN admission. The entry status will be recorded on the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
When Does a Canadian NAFTA Professional Need a Visa?
If a Canadian NAFTA professional resides in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and child, a visa is required to enable the spouse and child to apply for a visa as TD visa holders to accompany or join the NAFTA professional.
For Mexican Citizens:
Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a US Consulate/Embassy, although they are not required to file a petition with USCIS. The visa must be obtained before traveling to the US.
Required Documentation for Visa Interview:
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160
- Valid passport with a validity date of at least six months beyond the intended period of stay in the US (a photograph is not required for applications in Mexico)
- Letter of Employment containing information such as the requirement for a person in a professional capacity, consistent with NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1
- Evidence of professional employment, demonstrating plans for prearranged business activities for a US employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is allowed, but self-employment is not permitted. The employment letter or contract should include details such as the activity, purpose of entry, anticipated length of stay, educational qualifications, compliance with DHS regulations and/or state laws, and arrangements for payment.