Who is it for: TN visas were created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and permit Mexican and Canadian citizens the right to enter the United States to conduct business. Under the terms of this reciprocal trading agreement, workers must be qualified to conduct business at a professional level with job classifications that include scientists, lawyers, teachers, engineers and other similar fields. Generally, a worker will be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, or equivalent.

A complete list of professions covered under NAFTA can be found here.

Rules governing admission into the United States are different for Canadian workers than for Mexican workers.

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In most instances, Canadian workers will not need a visa to enter the United States. They only need to establish that they are eligible for a TN classification by presenting appropriate documentation at U.S. ports of entry or at a pre-flight or pre-clearance station.

Mexican citizens will need to obtain a TN visa prior to entering the United States by applying at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

Spouses and qualifying dependents of TN visa holders may enter the United States on a TD visa.

Immigrant or Non-immigrant visa: Nonimmigrant visa

Duration: The initial period that a TN visa holder may stay in the United States is three years. Extensions are available in additional three-year increments. An employer can file a Form I-129 on an employee’s behalf seeking that extension. There is no limit on the number of extensions, but the employee must be able to establish that their stay in the United States will be temporary.

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Details: There is no cap on the number of TN visas that can be issued each year.

Mexican or Canadian professionals entering under a TN visa classification can also come to the United States for the purpose of conducting training or seminars related to their profession.

To apply: Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a TN visa, but they should establish eligibility for a TN classification when they seek entry into the United States.

To do so, at a port of entry or at a pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station, the Canadian citizen should present proof of Canadian citizenship, a letter from their prospective American employer that details the type and duration of the work they will be performing, and appropriate educational and professional licensing documentation. A U.S. employer may also gain TN classification approval for a Canadian worker by submitting a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129 to USCIS. If approved, the Canadian worker only needs to show proof of Canadian citizenship and the approved Form I-129 when entering the country.

Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico prior to entering the United States. To apply, first start by filling out an Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. When it has been approved, the Mexican citizen will be required to go to the embassy or consulate for a visa interview where a final determination will be made as to whether or not a visa will be granted. Interviewees should bring a contract or a letter to prove employment in the United States that will detail the type and duration of work to be performed. They should also provide documentation to prove they meet the minimum educational requirements for a TN visa.

For more information: U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services maintains a webpage with information on TN and TD visa requirements. It is located here on the USCIS website.