TN Visas for NAFTA Professionals

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What is a TN Visa?

The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, created trade and economic relationships between the United States, Mexico and Canada. As a result, some professionals are eligible to seek admission into the United States as nonimmigrants using a TN visa.

The TN visa was created by NAFTA( TN stands for Trade NAFTA), and it enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to obtain temporary work-related employment in the United States. There are two distinct types of TN status for this type of business immigration:

  • TN-1 is for Canadian professionals
  • TN-2 is for Mexican professionals

To be eligible for a TN visa, you must be qualified under one of the accepted NAFTA professions, and you must be a citizen of either Canada or Mexico.

List of NAFTA Professions

Accountant Agriculturist Animal breeder or scientist Architect Astronomer
Biochemist Biologist Chemist College professor Computer systems analyst
Dairy scientist Dentist Dietitian Economist Engineer
Entomologist Epidemiologist Forester Geneticist Geochemist
Geologist Geophysicist Graphic designer Horticulturist Hotel manager
Industrial designer Interior designer Land surveyor Landscape architect Lawyer
Librarian Management consultant Mathematician Medical laboratory technologist Meteorologist
Nutritionist Occupational therapist Pharmacist Pharmacologist Physician
Physicist Physiotherapist Plant breeder Poultry scientist Psychologist
Range manager Recreational therapist Registered nurse Research assistant Scientific technician
Seminary professor Social worker Soil scientist Technical publications writer University professor
Urban planner Veterinarian Vocational counselor Zoologist  

These professions are subject to change, so if you’re not sure whether you qualify as a NAFTA professional, you may want to speak to a Dallas or Houston immigration attorney who can give you the most current information.

The Period of Stay for a TN Visa

The initial period of stay in the United States on a TN visa is up to three years. A TN visa is renewable, and there's no limit to how many times you may extend your stay in the U.S. This means you may be able to live and work in the United States for many years, as long as you continue to qualify as a NAFTA professional and maintain your Canadian or Mexican citizenship.

Who Qualifies for a TN Visa?

You must be:

  • A Canadian or Mexican citizen (permanent residents of either country are not permitted to use TN visas)
  • Qualified under an accepted NAFTA profession
  • Accepting a job in the U.S. that requires a NAFTA professional
  • Hired for a part-time or full-time job with a U.S. employer (self-employment is not permitted. Also, you are not allowed to open a business in the U.S. and work for the business)
  • Credentialed and meet the educational requirements of the position you are accepting (for example, having a bachelor’s or master’s degree)

There are different requirements for Canadian and Mexican applicants. Your attorney can ensure that you meet the necessary criteria based on your current citizenship.

Requirements for Canadian Citizens Who Need TN-1 Visas

TN Visa Attorneys

If you’re a Canadian citizen, you don’t need a TN-1 visa in order to come to the U.S. to work as a NAFTA professional. You may apply for TN nonimmigrant status at the time you seek admission to the U.S. by providing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at specific ports of entry, or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station, with the following:

  • Proof of your Canadian citizenship
  • A letter from your prospective employer detailing important information, such as what professional capacity you will be working in, the purpose of your employment, how long you intend to stay, and your educational qualifications
  • A credentials evaluation, if applicable
  • Applicable fees

Your employer can file for a TN-1 visa on your behalf, as well, by filing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

You do have to get a NAFTA professional visa if you are a Canadian citizen residing in a third country (not Canada or the U.S.) and have a non-Canadian spouse or children, and if you plan to enter the U.S. as a NAFTA professional with your family members. If you do not have this visa, your spouse and children cannot apply for derivative TD nonimmigrant visas.

Requirements For Mexican Citizens Who Need TN-2 Visas

If you’re a Mexican citizen, you must obtain a visa prior to your arrival in the United States. You should apply for a TN-2 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. You’ll need to submit Form DS-160, which is a nonimmigrant visa application, as well as other paperwork and documentation, which includes:

  • A passport that’s valid for travel to the U.S.
    • The passport should be valid for a minimum of six months beyond your stay in the U.S.
  • A letter or contract of employment demonstrating that you’ve been offered a job in the U.S. Just like the letter of employment required of a Canadian citizen, this letter should detail your job description, your projected period of stay, and provide information regarding your education and credentials
  • Proof that you satisfy the minimum requirements for education and work experience, which may include:
    • Degrees, certificates, and licensure
    • Letters from past employers

You will have to attend a visa interview where you may be required to submit a digital fingerprint scan as a part of a collection of biometrics, which are a set of data that can include your digital fingerprints, signature, and photo. (This data is collected to confirm your identity, as well as perform criminal background and security checks). You’ll be notified if your visa is approved. Once the TN-2 visa is in your possession, you may seek admission to the United States at a port of entry.

Can Your Family Accompany You to the U.S. if You Have a TN Visa?

Your family may be able to accompany you to the United States if you’re coming here on a TN-1 or TN-2 visa. If your family members are not citizens of Canada or Mexico, they may each need a visa. Your attorney can check with the U.S. Department of State to determine what they need to do to qualify, but in any case, your family members will need to provide:

  • Proof of a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship with you
  • Proof that you are maintaining your nonimmigrant status
    If your family members are Canadian citizens, they do not need a visa to come to the U.S. with you. They do need to provide:
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • Proof of their relationship to you, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificates
  • Photocopies of your admission documents
  • Proof that you are maintaining your TN nonimmigrant status
    If your family members are Mexican citizens, they do need a visa. Specifically, each family member must apply for a TD nonimmigrant visa at an American embassy or consulate. They must also provide proof that you, the TN-2 nonimmigrant, are maintaining your nonimmigrant status.

Frequently Asked Questions

TN Visa AttorneyWhat If You Lose Your Job On A TN Visa?

If you were to lose your job, you have 60 days to secure another position, or to adjust your status—otherwise, you will have to leave the United States once the two-month grace period ends.

Can You Change Employers While Working On A TN Visa?

Your TN visa is only applicable to the U.S. employer who is listed on your visa. So, you’ll have to apply for a new TN visa if you want to work for a different company in the United States.

Does Your TN Visa Require A Labor Certification For Your Position?

The TN visa doesn’t require that your U.S. employer obtain an approved labor certification. (A labor certification is a process that's designed to verify that your employer in the U.S. was not able to identify a U.S. worker who was qualified for the position for which they are hiring you.)

Can Your Spouse And Children Work On A TD Visa?

Spouses and children on TD visas cannot work, but they may pursue schooling. As a TN visa holder, you may also study in the U.S. However, you must still adhere to the conditions of your visa.

Is A TN Visa Holder Eligible For A Green Card?

TN visas aren’t considered to be dual intent. A dual intent visa permits a foreign national to enter the U.S. as a nonimmigrant who plans to later apply for permanent residence. However, if you find a love interest while in the U.S. and the two of you marry, as the marital partner of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident you may adjust your status from a TN visa holder to a green card holder based on marriage.

Do You Need To Talk To An Immigration Attorney About Getting A TN Visa?

If you’re seeking a TN visa, or TD visas for your family members, we may be able to help you. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced, caring and committed Dallas or Houston immigration attorney.