The TN nonimmigrant visa category was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under TN, certain citizens of Canada and Mexico can be admitted into the U.S. on temporary basis to engage in business activities at a professional level.
The professions qualifying for a TN visa are listed in an Appendix (Appendix 1603.D.1) to NAFTA, and are collectively referred as “NAFTA list”.
TN visa is granted for an initial period of three years and can be extended further in increments of three years. Unlike most temporary work visas, TN visa does not have a maximum cap on number of years for which TN status can be held. Canadian and Mexican professionals can maintain NAFTA visa status indefinitely by requesting extensions based upon their qualifying professional activity.
The spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 are allowed to accompany or join the TN worker under TD nonimmigrant status for the duration of principal’s TN validity. The dependents on TD status cannot work but are permitted to study.
Requirements to be eligible for TN nonimmigrant classification:
- The beneficiary must be citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- The profession qualifies under the regulations, and requires a NAFTA professional;
- There is a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (which is not self-employment); and
- The beneficiary possesses requisite qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
- The stay must be for a temporary period without any intent to establish permanent residence. Intent to return must be demonstrated to U.S. Consulate and/ or at the port of entry in Canada and Mexico.
Procedure and Documents for Applying for TN nonimmigrant classification:
- Have proof of Canadian/ Mexican Citizenship along with unexpired passport with validity of at least six months beyond the intended period of stay in the U.S.
- Have a Job Offer from U.S. Employer in a profession covered on NAFTA list. Ideally, a letter of employment from prospective employer detailing purpose of employment, job title, expected length of employment and identifying qualifications, is required.
- Possess the education documents with appropriate credential evaluations.
- Application with U.S. Government:
Option 1: With US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Prospective Employers may file requisite application with USCIS for new employments and subsequent extensions. The beneficiary gets granted I-94 (admission) and extended I-94 upon approval of such petition(s) by USCIS.
Option 2: With U.S. Consulate and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Mexican Citizens are required to apply for TN Visa at a U.S. Consulate by producing all the requisite documentation listed under points 1 to 3, and obtain a TN visa. Upon obtaining the visa, they are required to produce all the documents and visa at a designated port of entry to the satisfaction of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer to gain admission.
Canadian Citizens are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate (exceptions apply). They may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time of seeking admission to the United States by presenting required documentation (in points 1 to 3) to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/ pre-flight inspection station.
- For gaining admission subsequent to filing of a petition by U.S. Employer, the beneficiary is required to carry Form I-797 Approval Notice of approved petition.
- Procedure to apply for TN visa by Mexican citizens is illustrated below:
- Obtain requisite documentation for the TN Classification from prospective U.S. Employer
- Complete Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/, upload photos while completing the online Form I-160, and print the confirmation page for interview
- Pay the non-refundable visa application fee
- Make an appointment for an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consualte