The TN Visa is for professionals who want to engage in business activities at a professional level, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The NAFTA created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. NAFTA professionals like engineers, lawyers, accountants, pharmacists, scientists, or teachers may work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers.
There are two different types of TN visa:
- TN-1 for Canadian professionals. The applicant must be a Canadian citizen.
- TN-2 for Mexican professionals. The applicant must be a Mexican citizen.
The applicant must intend to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period and permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not able to apply for TN visas.
Applicants must be able to show that their intended stay is temporary and without any intent to establish permanent residence, as the TN is not a dual intent visa. The initial period of stay is up to 3 years.
The NAFTA citizen may work in a professional occupation in the U.S. and may be issued a TN visa, only if all the following requirements are met:
- The job is included in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA, which provides a list of provisions covered by the Agreement.
- The alien possesses the specific credentials to be considered a professional in his/her profession. A bachelor's degree or higher degree is usually required.
- The prospective position requires someone in that professional capacity.
- The alien is going to work for a U.S. employer and have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with the U.S. employer
In order to apply for the TN visa, you will proof of citizenship, and provide a copy of your college degree and employment records which establish qualification for the prospective job. You will also need your passport and photos, the confirmation page of form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application), the application fee receipt, and a letter from the U.S-based employer, among others.
Mexican nationals must obtain a TN visa stamp from a U.S. consulate before they can enter the United States. TN-2 non-immigrants between age 14 to 79 are also required to appear for an in person interview. Mexican applicants have to apply for a TN-2 visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.
On the other hand, Canadian citizens can get TN-1 status directly with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at their port of entry. The Canadian citizen will provide to the CBP officer proof of Canadian citizenship and a letter from the prospective employer detailing his/her professional capacity, the purpose of his or her employment, the length of stay, and the educational qualifications, together with any applicable fees.
A TN-1 employer may also choose to file on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is outside the United States, by submitting Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The assistance of a qualified immigration attorney will be crucial to insure that your case does not get denied.
If USCIS approves Form I-129, the Canadian citizen will provide the Approval Notice from USCIS for Form I-129 to a CBP Officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.
Applications for extension of stay are processed by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Canadians may return to Canada to re-apply at the port of entry with the same documentation that is required for an original application.
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are entitled to a derivative TD visa. Even though, they are unable to accept employment in the United States. If a Canadian or Mexican TN holder applies for an extension of stay in the United States at the end of the period of admission or authorization as a TN, any eligible TD family member may also apply to extend their status without the need to travel abroad.