Skip to Content
News

TN Status for NAFTA Professionals

If you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico, entering the United States as a TN nonimmigrant may be an option for you to work here. The TN visa is a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that is intended for citizens in Canada, Mexico and the USA to freely “engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis.” NAFTA defines “activities at a professional level” as requiring “at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional.” Examples of professionals include accountants, architects, economists, engineers, lawyers, scientists, teachers, among many other professional positions.

You may be eligible for TN status under the following conditions:

  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Your profession is on the NAFTA list found at 8 CFR §214.6(c);
  • Your position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
  • You will work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for an employer; and
  • You have the qualifications, meeting the specific requirements, education, and/or experience, of the profession.

To enter the U.S. as a NAFTA professional, the requirements are different depending on whether you are a citizen of Canada or Mexico.

Requirements for citizens of Canada:

Canadian citizens, who are visa exempt, can apply for TN nonimmigrant status at a U.S. port-of-entry. You must provide the following documentation to a U.S. Customers and Border Protection (CPB) officer:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • Letter from your prospective employer detailing items such as the professional capacity in which you will work in the United States, the purpose of your employment, your length of stay, your salary, and your educational qualifications; and
  • Credentials evaluation (if applicable), together with any applicable fees.

If the CPB officer finds you eligible, you will then be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.

Requirements for citizens of Mexico:

A Mexican citizen must apply for a visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico and schedule an interview.  Once approved, you must apply for admission at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designate pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. You must provide the following documentation to a CPB officer:

  • Proof of Mexican citizenship;
  • A letter from your prospective employer detailing items such as the professional capacity in which you will work in the United States, the purpose of your employment, your length of stay, and your educational qualifications; and
  • A credentials evaluation (if applicable), together with any applicable fees.

If the CPB officer finds you eligible, you will then be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.

Duration of Stay

The maximum period of each admission of a TN is three years. There is no statutory limitation on stay for those in TN status such as there are for H-1B (6 years) or L-1 (either 5 or 7 years) visa holders. Individuals holding TN status may extend their status for up to 3 years at a time, but must be present in the U.S. at time of filing the extension.

Dual Intent Inapplicable to TN

Dual intent is not applicable to TN holders. This means at the time you enter the U.S. in TN status, you must not have the intent to reside in the U.S. permanently. Your nonimmigrant intent will be considered at the time you apply for admission to the United States (at the border for Canadians, and during the visa interview and at the border for Mexicans). Applying for permanent residence may cause issues when traveling or when seeking an extension. It is advised that the individual on TN status speak with an immigration attorney before the filing of an immigrant petition.

To find out if you’re eligible to work in the U.S. as a TN nonimmigrant, please contact a qualified immigration attorney.

By Kristina Hernandez

Kristina is an associate attorney at Reddy & Neumann. She was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2011. Her practice includes representing companies and individuals with employment-based visa petitions and applications.