TN NAFTA Professionals

TN NAFTA Professionals
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN non immigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN non immigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. You may be eligible for TN non immigrant status, if:
  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Your profession qualifies under the regulations;
  • The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
  • You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment - see documentation required below); and
  • You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
Eligibility Criteria
Unlike Mexican citizens, Canadian citizens are generally eligible for admission as non immigrants without a visa.  The TN category, a non immigrant classification, simply reflects this general exemption from the visa requirement.  NAFTA governs which evidence is required to prove whether a Canadian or Mexican citizen is a professional in a qualifying profession.
Canadian Citizens
If you are a Canadian citizen, then you are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate. 
You may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time you seek admission to the United States by presenting required documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. You must provide the following documentation to the CBP 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, and your educational qualifications; and
  • Credentials evaluation (if applicable), together with any applicable fees.
 If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant. 
Alternatively, a prospective TN employer may 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 USCIS.  Premium Processing Service is available.
If USCIS approves Form I-129, you, the prospective worker, may then apply to CBP for admission to the United States as a TN non immigrant by providing the following documentation to a CBP Officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station:
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship; and 
  • Approval Notice from USCIS for Form I-129.
In addition, when applying for admission, you should have in your possession a copy of the Form I-129, and all supporting documentation that was submitted to USCIS, to respond to questions about your eligibility.  You should also be prepared to pay any applicable inspection fees at the time you seek admission.  If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, you will be admitted as a TN non immigrant. 
Mexican Citizens
If you are a Mexican citizen, then you are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN non immigrant. You should apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. 
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.   If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, then you will be admitted as a TN non immigrant.  

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay
 
Initial Period of Stay
Up to 3 years.
If you wish to remain in the United States beyond your initial period of stay without first departing from the United States, you must seek an extension of stay. If you are in the United States, your employer may file Form I-129 on your behalf. Alternatively, you may depart from the United States before the date your status expires, and then, once abroad, you may apply at a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station using the same application and documentation procedures required at the time of your initial application for admission as a TN non immigrant.

Dependents of TN Non immigrants
Any accompanying or “following to join” spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for TD non immigrant status.  Spouses and children are:
  • Not permitted to work while in the United States, but they are permitted to study.
  • Granted TD status for no longer than the period of time granted to the principal TN non immigrant.
See the table below for specific information on how to apply for TD non immigrant status.
Application Information for Dependents or Spouses of TN non immigrants
Spouse or DependentsNeed a Visa?Must ShowWhere to apply for admission to the U.S.
Not citizens of Canada or Mexico
Depends.

  • Proof of a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship with the TN non immigrant; and
  • Proof the TN non immigrant is maintaining his or her TN non immigrant status.
 At a CBP- designated U.S. port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.
Canadian citizensNo visa required
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • Proof of relationship to the TN non immigrant, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate;
  • Photocopies of the TN non immigrant’s admission documents; and
  • Proof the TN non immigrant is maintaining his or her TN non immigrant status.
 
 At a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.
 
Mexican citizensYes, must apply for a TD non immigrant visa at an American embassy or consulateProof the TN non immigrant is maintaining his or her TN non immigrant status.
At a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.
 

Extending Your TD Non immigrant Stay
If a Canadian or Mexican TN non immigrant applies for an extension of stay in the United States at the end of his or her 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.
If a Mexican TD dependent wishes to travel abroad following approval of any such extension of stay and expiration of the TD visa, the family member will be required to apply for a new TD visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before being permitted to return to the United States in TD status.