TN Visa For NAFTA Professionals

The TN visa is only available to citizens of Canada and Mexico. With it, citizens of those countries are permitted to reside and work in the United States for an extended time. It allows for an initial three-year period, but then, it can be extended over and over again without limits. A candidate for a TN visa must first meet the credentialing of the job that he or she will work in. Then, he or she must work at one of the professions enumerated on the list of TN jobs. TN is an acronym for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When one spouse has a TN visa, the other spouse and any children under the age of 21 can come with them. Although they’re not allowed to work, they are allowed to go to school.

What Advantages Does a TN Visa Have?

After the initial three-year period, there is no limit to the number of times that a TN visa can be renewed. With a TN visa, a person can literally spend a career in the United States. There is no quota either, so there is job protection. A labor certification from the employer isn’t required either. There are even more relaxed rules for Canadians. Premium processing is available for TN visa candidates. It costs an additional $1,225, but the candidate can start work in 15 days.

Requirements for a TN Visa

There are five basic requirements for obtaining a TN visa. They are as follow:

  • You’re required to be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
  • There must be a job offer to work in the United States.
  • The job must appear on the TN job list.
  • The educational and professional requirements of the job must be fulfilled.
  • Entry must be temporary. The candidate must have non-immigrant intent.

Note that the TN visa doesn’t allow a person to work at a company that he or she owns. Nor does it allow starting and then working at a business in the United States.

Your Degree

Most TN jobs require a bachelor’s degree or a job that is licensed. A three-year degree might qualify. The degree must be in the field that the job is sought in. If the degree is earned outside of the United States, Canada or Mexico, the applicant must submit a credential evaluation proving its equivalency to a like degree in the United States. A state or provincial license is probably sufficient. A post-secondary license may also be sufficient it its issued in the United States, Canada or Mexico.

Non-Immigrant Intent                 

Your immigrant intent is considered at the time that you apply for the TN visa. Perhaps in the future, you will wish to change your intent. That is not prohibited, but it’s a highly technical area that requires the input and services of an attorney.

What’s Needed to Apply for a TN Visa?

You must first submit evidence of your Canadian or Mexican passport. After that comes a support letter and/or contract from your employer. It should set out your responsibilities to the U.S. company, how long you’ll be working there, your educational and professional qualifications, the compensation, why the company needs you and it must be signed and on the company’s letterhead.

Demonstrating Your Non-Immigrant Intent

For non-immigrant intent, you must show an intent of returning to Canada or Mexico at the termination of your job. The following will show that:

  • A deed if you own a home. A lease if you don’t.
  • Bills addressed there.
  • A foreign bank account.
  • Evidence of obligations in Canada or Mexico.
  • Evidence of children abroad.
  • A letter from your employer saying you’ll return upon the termination of your services.

Educational Qualifications

For purposes of verification of your qualifications, you’ll want to provide copies of the following:

  • Degrees, certificates and licenses.
  • Letters from former employers confirming prior work experience.
  • A full and complete resume or curriculum vitae.

The Difference Between a Canadian TN Visa and a Mexican TN Visa

The process in getting a TN visa is different for Canadian and Mexican citizens. The main difference is that Canadian citizens don’t need to apply for the visa and wait. It’s routinely preapproved. They can also file a Form I-129 petition, but that entails considerably more work. They can apply for status directly at a Port of Entry. A Mexican citizen must apply for the visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. If the TN visa issued, an appropriate visa will be issued with it. I-129 petitions aren’t allowed for preapproved citizens of Mexico.

Applying for a TN Visa When a Citizen of Mexico

Again, a Mexican citizen must first apply for a TN visa before entering the United States. This is done at the U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. Form DS-160 must be filed, and an appointment must be set at the U.S. embassy or consulate. The TN visa costs $160. The TN worker must bring the following with them to the appointment: A valid Mexican passport, a support statement from the employer in the United States, evidence of professional and educational background and evidence of non-immigrant intent.

At Port of Entry

After the TN visa has been issued, the Mexican worker then seeks TN classification at the Port of Entry. They should have their passport from Mexico, TN visa stamp and support statement from their employer with them. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Office at the Port of Entry may have questions, but they’ll likely be routine. There is a $50 fee for entry for Mexican citizens. Upon payment of that sum, TN classification should be given for three years.

Going from TN Classification to a Green Card

An adjustment of status occurs when a person goes from non-immigrant status to immigrant status. Fortunately, that can be done here in the United States. The person who is adjusting status need only be lawfully in the United States when the application is filed. A Form-485 is required for this purpose as is a Form I-140. The fees for these are expensive at $1,260 and $750. Your company will need to apply for and obtain a labor certificate.

Because of the requirement of the lack of immigrant intent, you are cautioned. Work with a quality immigration lawyer. There is too much to lose, including a good job in the United States.

Here is a listing of the occupations that the TN visa contemplates:

General Occupations

  • Accountant
  • Architect
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Disaster Relief Claims Adjuster
  • Economist
  • Engineer
  • Forester
  • Graphic Designer
  • Hotel Manager
  • Industrial Designer
  • Interior Designer
  • Land Surveyor
  • Landscape Architect
  • Lawyer
  • Librarian
  • Management Consultant
  • Mathematician/Statistician
  • Range Manager or Conservationist
  • Research Assistant
  • Scientific Technician/Technologist
  • Social Worker
  • Technical Publications Writer
  • Urban Planner or Geographer
  • Vocational Counselor

Medical Fields

  • Dentist
  • Dietician
  • Medical Laboratory Technology/Medical Technologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician (Teaching or Research)
  • Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Veterinarian

Scientific Occupations

  • Animal Scientist
  • Apiculturist
  • Astronomer
  • Biochemist
  • Biologist (Including Plan Pathologist)
  • Chemist
  • Dairy Scientist
  • Entomologist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Geneticist
  • Geochemist
  • Geologist
  • Geophysical (Including Oceanography)
  • Horticulturist
  • Meteorologist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Physicist
  • Plant Breeder
  • Poultry Scientist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Zoologist

Teaching Jobs

  • College Teacher
  • Seminary Teacher
  • University Teacher

 Learn more about other types of Visas