TN Visa Category

Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker


NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement creating special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico.  The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals to work in the United States.  Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional. 

Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. under the following conditions:

  • Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico ;
  • Profession is on the NAFTA list;
  • Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
  • Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted;

* Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession

The requirements for applying for citizens of Canada and Mexico, shown below, are different.

Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. However, a Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and children would need a visa to enable the spouse and children to be able to apply for a visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder. To apply for visa, please see the requirements under the section Mexican Citizens- Applying for a TN Visa- Required Documentation.

A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry with all of the following:

  • Request for admission under TN status to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration officer;
  • Employment Letter - Evidence of professional employment. See Employment Letter below;
  • Proof of professional qualifications, such as transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and/or records of previous employment;
  • Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements;
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship- Canadian citizens may present a passport, as visas are not required, or they may provide secondary evidence, such as a birth certificate. However, Canadian citizens traveling to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid passport at the port-of-entry;
  • Fee of U.S. $50

As of January 1, 2004 the procedures were simplified for Mexicans by removing the requirement for petition approval and for filing of a labor condition application. Mexicans are no longer subject to numerical limitation for these professionals. Mexican citizens still require a visa to request admission to the United States.

Mexican citizens may apply at consular sections around the world for a NAFTA professional (TN) visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for most visa applicants. Interviews are generally by appointment only. As part of the visa interview, a quick, two-digit, ink-free fingerprint scan can generally be expected. The Embassy Consular Section website where the visa will be applied for should provide information on how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other instructions.

Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit the following forms, documentation, and fees:

  • The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160, is completed electronically.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States.
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico .
  • Letter of employment in the United States (see below)

Additionally, as non-immigrants, applicants must demonstrate that:

  • That their stay is a temporary period that has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.

The employer in the U.S. must provide to the applicant a Letter of Employment in the United States. The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1.

The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted. An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:

  • Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged;
  • Purpose of entry;
  • Anticipated length of stay;
  • Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
  • Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and
  • Arrangements for pay.
  • Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.
  • Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee - Each applicant for a visitor visa must pay a nonrefundable US $100 nonimmigrant visa application processing fee.
  • Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Table to find out if you must pay the visa issuance reciprocity fee and the amount of the fee.

Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as NAFTA Professional for TN visa, under U.S. law by:

  • Education Requirement- The applicant's employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in NAFTA agreement, chapter 16 appendix 1603.d.1. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
  • Work Experience Requirement - Document proving to the applicant's experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.

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.

Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join NAFTA Professionals (TN visa holders) may receive a derivative TD visa. Applicants must demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S. They are permitted to study.

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

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • Proof of relationship to the principal applicant, such as marriage certificate and birth certificate; and
  • Photocopies of entry documents of the principal applicant.

Mexican citizen spouses and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

If the spouse and children are not Canadian citizens , they must get a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. They must contact the U.S. embassy or consulate that serves their area for information on how to make visa applications.

Spouses or children following to join must show a valid I-94, thereby providing proof that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining his/her TN visa status.

The maximum period of admission into the U.S is three years. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants extensions of stay in increments of three years. The requested duration should be stated in the employer letter. TN extensions are obtained through travel outside of and reentry to the U.S. or through filing a petition with USCIS. There is no limit on the number of years a TN visa holder can stay in the United States. The TN visa status is a nonimmigrant status and applying for U.S. permanent residency could potentially be problematic. A competent immigration attorney should be consulted.

Employment-based grace periods:

There are three possible grace periods:

  1. If U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows entry up to 10 days before the authorization start date;
  2. If when the TN beneficiary enters the U.S., U.S. Customs and Border Protection annotates the duration to be 10 days following the authorization end date; and
  3. If employment ends before the authorization end date, the beneficiary has up to but no more than 60 days which is determined by how many days remain in the authorization period. In no case will the grace period extend beyond the authorization end date. Example 1: the beneficiary ends employment on April 1. The authorization end date is May 15. The grace period extends until May 15. Example 2: The same employment end date, April 1, authorization end date is June 15. The grace period extends for 60 days until May 30.

The 10 day periods before and after authorization start dates apply to the E-3, H-1B, TN status holders under 8 CFR 214.1(l)(1).

The 60-day period applies to E-3,H-1B, O-1, TN status holders under 8 CFR 214.1(l)(2).

In no circumstances is employment authorized during any of the grace periods.

For Canadian or Mexican citizens admitted as a NAFTA Professional may seek an extension of stay, which may be granted up to one year, by:

  • If the applicant is in the U.S., employer may file the Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Nebraska Service Center; or
  • Applicant may apply at a port of entry using the same application and documentation procedures above as required for the initial entry.

Extensions of the TN status are NOT required to be filed through USCIS and may be obtained by traveling outside the U.S. and reentering in that status. The processing fee, paid to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for processing at the U.S. border is approximately $56 payable in U.S. Dollars. USCIS processing fee for extensions filed through the service center is $460. Note: Not all U.S. ports of entry are capable of accepting credit cards for payment.

A department may request an extension of TN status for the employee by completing and submitting the Employment Authorization Request (PDF) and Beneficiary Information (PDF) Forms to ISSS.

The NAFTA Secretariat provides a job series list by profession (scroll down to Appendix 1603.D.1), with Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials. With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, alternative criteria to a bachelor's degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.

NAFTA Professionals Job List

  • No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
  • Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. It may be used along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

Canadian and Mexican citizens seeking entry as a NAFTA professional (TN status), must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Customs and Border Protection Officer of plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level.

  1. Proof of Canadian citizenship (short- or long-form Canadian birth certificate, Canadian passport, or certificate of Canadian naturalization).
  2. Detailed letter from the employer including:
    1. affirmation of Appendix 1603.D.1 profession of the individual applying (Note: College faculty are included. See the last major area in the listing of NAFTA professionals);
    2. position description, to include the duties the individual will be performing in the U.S. ;
    3. beginning and end dates of employment;
    4. educational qualifications or credentials required indicating the professional level status of the position and applicant;
    5. method/frequency of payment for services performed;
    6. the applicant meets all license requirements, if applicable.
  3. Evidence that the job is in one of the occupations listed in Appendix 1603.D.1.
    1. This can be in the form of a copy of the Appendix, with the employer letter specifically placing the position in one of the occupations listed.
  4. Credentials for the job as stated in Appendix 1603.D.1.
    1. Original or certified copies of the credentials, including diplomas, transcripts, licenses, certificates or other documentation may be requested for examination. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has the right to request to see these documents in original form or certified copies.
    2. Any non-U.S. academic credentials should be accompanied by a credentials evaluation. If proving qualifications by previous work experience to meet the TN requirements, the applicant should have letters from previous employers or business records for proof of self-employment.
    3. In general, the academic or professional credentials should reasonably match the position requirements for duties that will be performed. If the connection is not obvious, a reasonable explanation should be provided.
  5. Temporary nature of the position. This should be evident by the beginning and end dates. However, the applicant should mention the length of employment at the time of admission, i.e., I am going to UAF to work as a ________ for xxx number of months.”
  6. $56 filing fee in exact amount, credit cards may be accepted at some U.S./Canadian ports of entry..

Note: The UAF letter of offer should meet the requirements for items 2c, d, and e provided it does not address the position as permanent, since this is a non-immigrant visa with a limited length of time. The TN entry is valid for up to one year and may be renewed with a new trip to Canada and reapplication on re-entry at the U.S. port of entry.

The recruitment notice or job announcement should meet the requirements for items 2b and d.

A separate letter from the UAF department chair or hiring authority may be obtained to address the requirements in items 2a and f.

Questions or Additional Information

If you have questions or wish additional information, please contact ISSS staff.