The TN visa is a visa available for Canadian and Mexican nationals who wish to come to the U.S., temporarily, to “engage in business activities at a professional level.” The TN visa is provided for by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which delineates which “professional jobs” qualify for the TN visa. Generally speaking, an applicant must have a baccalaureate degree, and be coming to the U.S. to participate in one of the listed professions. The Appendix lists out minimum qualifications for each profession.
The TN visa is an excellent alternative to the H-1B as there is no yearly cap, and it includes a broader range of jobs than the H-1B.
How Do I apply for a TN Visa?
There are two ways to apply for a TN visa; either through a consulate abroad or with Customs and Border Patrol at a Class A port of entry. Mexican nationals will need to obtain a visa abroad; Canadian citizens can do either.
Applying at a Port of Entry
Canadian citizens can apply for a TN visa as a Class A port of entry or a designated pre-clearance station. At the time of your request for admission, you must present the following documents:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- Letter from your employer outlining the nature of the employment, duration of employment, what makes the job professional, and stating your educational qualifications;
- Copies of your diplomas, or certificates.
Applying to a Consulate Abroad
Mexican nationals need a visa to enter the United States. You can apply for the TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico, on Form DS-160. At the time of the interview, you should bring the following documents:
- DS-160 confirmation page;
- Passport style photo (if your photo failed to upload while filing the DS-160);
- Letter from the employer, copy of a contract, or proof of a job offer. The letter should include a description of your job responsibilities, duration of employment, pay schedule, and outline your educational qualifications;
- Proof of your educational qualifications;
- The consular officer may also require evidence of your ties to Mexico, or proof of your intent to return to Mexico after completion of the job.
Things to Note about the TN Visa
- Non-Immigrant Intent: Must have non-immigrant intent while on the TN visa- when you enter with a TN visa you cannot intend to stay in the United States, you must intend to return to your country of origin. This means that you may be required to show ties with your home country.
- Duration of Stay: You can be admitted for up to 3 years on the TN visa.
- Self-Employment: You cannot be self-employed; you must be employed by a company.
- Dependents: Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for TD status. They cannot work while in the U.S.; however, they may attend school.
- Extension of Stay: You can request an extension of stay from within the U.S., or abroad. If you file from within the U.S., your employer will file Form I-129 before the expiration of your TN visa. Alternatively, you can travel abroad and use the method initially used in obtaining your TN visa (either through a consulate or a port of entry).
If you are a Canadian or Mexican national and would like information about the TN visa, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, have experience with TN and other non-immigrant visas. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!