TN Visas for NAFTA Professionals

The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). TN visas are available for qualified citizens of Canada and Mexico. A number of different types of professions qualify for TN visa status. Examples include accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.

You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status if:

  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Your profession qualifies under the regulations;
  • The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
  • You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment); and
  • You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.

Benefits for family members

Spouse and children (under 21) of the TN visa holder may qualify for TD nonimmigrant status.  Spouses and children are not permitted to work while in the United States, but they are permitted to study. TD status lasts no longer than the period of time granted to the TN visa holder.

Differences in requirements for Canada and Mexico

Mexican applicants must first apply for and obtain the TN visa from a U.S. consulate prior to attempting to enter the United States. Canadian applicants, however, are not required to apply at a U.S. consulate. Instead, they may present the appropriate paperwork to Customs and Border Patrol at a port of entry. Keep in mind, though, that this does not mean that Canadian applicants are more easily approved. Both Mexican and Canadian applicants must carefully prepare and document their applications.

Initial period of stay

TN applicants may be admitted for an initial period of 3 years. Extensions of the initial period of stay may be obtained by having the employer file an extension of status application.