TN Visas – NAFTA Professionals

The United States economic and trade pact with Mexico and Canada, NAFTA, lead to the creation of the TN nonimmigrant visa. This visa allows approved Mexican and Canadian nationals entry into the United States for temporary employment in professional level business activities. TN visas are offered for professionals including engineers, attorneys, accountants, scientists, scientists, pharmacists, and teachers.

Mexican or Canadian citizens may qualify for a TN nonimmigrant visa, if:

  • They have a full-time or part-time job offer from a U.S. employer
  • The offered U.S. position requires a NAFTA professional; and
  • The applicant has the qualifications to perform the profession.

Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens, unlike Mexican citizens, are generally eligible for admission to the United States without a visa. Canadian TN applicants may apply directly at the U.S. Canadian border rather than at a U.S. consulate.

They must demonstrate eligibility for TN classification by presenting required documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the border or at a designated pre-flight inspection station. The CBP officer must be presented with:

  • Applicable fees
  • Proof of the TN visa applicant’s Canadian citizenship;
  • An offer of employment letter from the potential employer stating:
    (i)The professional capacity in which the applicant will work in the United States,
    (ii)The purpose of their employment,
    (iii)The duration of the employment, and
    (iv)The necessary educational credentials or credentials evaluation (if necessary);

The CBP officer will review the submission and may admit the applicant as a TN nonimmigrant if the officer deems them eligible.

A potential TN employer may also file a Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker directly with USCIS for a prospective Canadian employee. An approved applicant must then present proof of Canadian citizenship, their I-129 Approval Notice, and all supporting documentation that was submitted to USCIS in order to enter the U.S.

Mexican Citizens

Mexican immigrants must follow a different procedure in applying for a TN visa and may only apply in Mexico at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Once you are approved for a TN visa, you may apply for admission at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. Please refer to CBP’s website for additional information and requirements for applying for admission to the United States.

If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, then you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.

Family Members

A TN holders spouse or children under the age of 21 may accompany or “follow to join” under the same TN nonimmigrant status. Spouses and children are:

Not authorized to work in the United States, but may enroll to study.

Granted TN status for no longer than the period granted to the primary TN nonimmigrant.

We have guided many clients – both employers and workers – through the TN visa application process. If you have questions about the TN visa for NAFTA professionals from Canada or Mexico call (646) 768-4190 or email us today at to schedule a consultation.