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 nonimmigrant 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 nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. The applicant must:

  • Be a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Be offered a position in a qualifying profession;
  • Have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment – see documentation required below); and
  • Have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.

Eligibility Criteria/Canadian Citizens

Unlike Mexican citizens, Canadian citizens are generally eligible for admission as nonimmigrants without a visa.  The TN category, a nonimmigrant 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 are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate. They may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time they 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.

Mexican Citizens

For a Mexican citizen, the applicant is required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant by applying for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay

Qualified TN candidates will be allowed an initial period of stay up to three years. Extensions of stay may be granted in increments of up to 1 year.

Dependents of TN Nonimmigrants

Any accompanying or “following to join” spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for TD nonimmigrant status.  Please note that spouses and children are:

  • Not permitted towork 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 nonimmigrant.