TN (Trade NAFTA) status is a special non-immigrant status in the United States unique to citizens of Canada and Mexico. Professions identified in the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement which began in 1988 are permitted TN Visas for legal work in the United States and Canada, creating freedom of labor movement. TN status is recognized in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which began in 1994. It allows U.S., Canadian and Mexican citizens the opportunity to work in each other’s countries in certain professional occupations. It bears a similarity, in some ways, to the H-1B visa, but also has many unique features. Within the TN set of occupations, an American, Canadian or Mexican can work for up to three years (until October 16, 2008, one year) at a time. However, the TN status may be renewed indefinitely in three-year increments, although it is not a ‘permanent’ visa and if US immigration officials suspect it is being used as a de facto green card, they may elect to deny further renewals. The set of occupations permitted to petition for TN status is also quite a bit more limited than for the H-1B visa.
Spouse and dependent children of a TN professional can be admitted into the United States in the TD status.
Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. under the following conditions:
- Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Profession is on the NAFTA list;
- Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
- Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted;
- Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession.
Each applicant for a TN visa must adhere to the procedure as explained below:
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
- One (1) 2×2 photograph. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico.
- Letter of Employment in the U.S. Additionally, the applicant’s employer in the U.S. must provide an employment letter that includes the following:
- The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1.
- The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted. An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:
- Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged and purpose of entry;
- Anticipated length of stay;
- Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
- Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and
- Arrangements for pay.
- Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the U.S. may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.
- Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
- Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.
Important Notice: Before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 60 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.