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TN NAFTA Visa - The Essentials

NAFTA stands for North American Free Trade Agreement. It is special trade agreement between Canada, United States and Mexico. The NAFTA Professional (also known as the TN Visa, TN1 Visa, TN Status) allows  Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States. They must be working in a jobs classified as professionals or as a NAFTA Professional. This is the NAFTA professional job list. 

NAFTA Visa Requirements for NAFTA Professionals to work in the U.S.

  • Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • Profession must be on the NAFTA Professional Job List
  • The U.S. job requires a NAFTA Professional
  • The Mexican or Canadian applicant will work for a U.S. employer. Self-employment is not allowed
  • The Mexican or Canadian applicant is qualified for the NAFTA profession.

The TN Visa Expert Kit can be used in all three of the above scenarios.

Requirements for Canadian Citizens

As a NAFTA professional Canadian citizens do not need a visa. This is why the term 'TN Status' is sometimes used instead of TN Visa. Spouses and children who are not Canadian citizens will require a visa when obtaining the TD Visa (dependency visa) under the NAFTA Professional. 

A Canadian citizen can apply for the TN NAFTA Visa (or TN Status) at a U.S. Port of Entry with the following:

  • Request for a TN Status admission to a U.S. Immigration Officer
  • A TN NAFTA employment letter showing proof of professional employment
  • Proof of professional qualifications (degree, transcripts, etc.)
  • Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • Fee of $50 USD

Requirements for Mexican Citizens

As of January 01, 2004 the procedures were simplified for Mexicans by removing the requirement for petition approval and for filing of a labor condition application. Mexicans no longer are subject to numerical limits for the TN NAFTA Visa professions. Mexicans still require a visa to request admission to the United States.

Mexican citizens may apply at consular sections around the world for TN NAFTA professional - TN Visa. Part of the visa application process requires an interview at the embassy consular section for most TN NAFTA Visa applicants. TN NAFTA Visa applicants should call and schedule the interviews in advance. The wait times for an interview can be several weeks. Plan accordingly.

Additional information for Mexican NAFTA visa applications can be found in the TN Visa Expert Kit.

TN NAFTA Visa - Licensure Requirements

Requirements for NAFTA professional do not include licensure. Licensure to practice a given profession in the United States is a post-entry requirement subject to enforcement by the appropriate state or other sub-federal authority.

TN NAFTA Visa - Spouse and Children (TD Visa)

Spouses and children (unmarried under the age of 21) who are accompanying or planning to join the TN NAFTA Visa Professional (TN Visa holder) may receive the TD Visa (dependency NAFTA visa). Spouses or children must show spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN NAFTA Visa holder. 

Dependents do not have to be citizens of Canada or Mexico. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S., but they are permitted to study.

Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas, but they must have the following documents when applying for the TD Visa at the port of entry:

  • Passport
  • Proof of relationship to the principal TN NAFTA Visa holder (ie. marriage certificate, birth certificate)
  • Photocopies of entry documents of the principal TN NAFTA Visa holder (their TN Visa)

Mexcian citizen spouses and children must apply for the TD Visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

If the spouse and children are not Canadian citizens, they must get a TD Visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Spouses or children who are not coming at the same time as the principal TN NAFTA Visa holder must show a valid I-94, thereby providing proof that the principal TN NAFTA Visa holder is maintaining his/her TN NAFTA Visa status.

TN NAFTA Visa - Denials

If the TN NAFTA Visa applicant is denied the issuance of a TN Visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal.

TN NAFTA Visa - Entering the U.S. Port of Entry

TN NAFTA Visa Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port of entry in the United States, such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing, and request permission to enter the U.S. The U.S. Immigration inspector wil permit or deny admission to the United States and determine your length of stay in the U.S., on any particular visit. 

TN NAFTA Visa - Ineligibility / Waiver

The Nonimmigrant Visa Applicatio, Form DS-156, lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. Law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas provides important information about ineligibilities, by reviewing sections of the law taken from the immigration and Nationality Act.

The TN Visa is a three year visa and has no renewal limits. You can receive a TN Visa extension every three years for an indefinite number of times. However, the requirement of temporary stay must be proven each time the TN Visa is renewed.

TN NAFTA Visa - Successful Application 

The TN Visa Expert Kit will have you understand all the details of how to create a successful TN Visa Application.