TN Nonimmigrant Classification
Beginning in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. One product of NAFTA was reciprocal freedom of movement in labor and employment. In the U.S., this is called TN (Trade NAFTA) status. TN status authorizes a Canadian or Mexican national to work in designated professional positions in the U.S. on a temporary or nonimmigrant basis. Initially, TN status is granted for up to 3 years and can be extended an unlimited number of times in 3-year increments as long as the foreign national does not intend to seek permanent residence in the U.S.
To qualify for TN nonimmigrant status, the foreign national must satisfy the following:
- Citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Profession qualifies under NAFTA;
- Position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
- Prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. or foreign employer; and
- Qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. Experience cannot be substituted if a Bachelor’s Degree is required. For some professions, however, experience is all that is required. For a complete list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials, see Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16.
TN-1 for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens do not need to apply for a TN Visa at a U.S. Consulate. Instead, they may establish eligibility at the border by presenting the following:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- Letter from prospective employer detailing the purpose of employment, length of stay, and qualifications or credentials;
- Applicable fees.
TN-2 for Mexican Citizens
Mexican citizens must apply for a TN Visa at the U.S. Consulate through the following application process:
- Submit Form DS-160 online and upload a passport-style photograph
- Schedule an interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy
- Pay the visa application fee
- Present to the Consular Officer the following:
- Passport valid for 6 months beyond the period of stay;
- Application and issuance fee payment receipt;
- Letter of employment detailing the purpose of entry, business activities or job duties, length of stay, and professional qualifications; pay arrangements;
- Evidence of educational or experiential qualifications
Spouse and Dependents
Spouses and unmarried, minor children may accompany or follow to join a TN nonimmigrant. Canadian citizen dependents do not need a visa to enter the U.S. but must present the necessary documentation at inspection. Mexican dependents must apply for a TD nonimmigrant visa to accompany or follow to join a TN nonimmigrant. Spouses may not work, but children may enroll in school.