Who Can Apply for a TN Work Visa?
The TN Visa is a non-immigrant work Visa for qualified Canadian and Mexican professionals in certain specified occupations. These include scientists, engineers, architects, economists, lawyers, accountants, pharmacists, dentists, nutritionists, therapists, veterinarians, nurses, and teachers (see the full list of professions that qualify for a TN Visa). Established by NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement today the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement-USMCA) in 1994, the TN visa was meant to strengthen and facilitate trade and business relations between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The TN visa has several advantages. A TN visa holder is allowed to work for one or more employers and there are no quotas or maximum amount of visas available. Spouses and children under 21 may apply for a dependent TD visa, and while they are not allowed work with this visa, they may obtain a different visa if they wish to work, and they are permitted to study in the U.S. If the TN visa holder wants to bring his family members under the TD visa, they must demonstrate that they have the ability to financially support their family in the U.S. and the validity of the TD visa for his family members may not be longer than that of the primary TN visa.
TN visas are renewable indefinitely as long as the conditions for eligibility for the visa are met. Additionally, this a relatively quick visa to obtain (for example, processing times in the Vermont Service Center are right now between 2-4 months) and TN employees are allowed to change employers, however, they need to apply for a new TN visa.
To be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status or a TN visa, you must:
- Be a Canadian or Mexican citizen (permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not eligible);
- Have a profession that qualifies under the TN visa regulations;
- Have a job offer in the US full-time or part-time, that requires a NAFTA professional (you may not be self-employed); and
- Be qualified in the profession required by the offer of employment.
Most professions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. If this is required, experience is not a substitute for the degree. For some professions, experience can be required in addition to the bachelor’s degree (see full list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials—Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16).
The process for obtaining a TN visa is different for Mexican and Canadian. While Canadians may apply for their initial TN status directly at a United States Port of Entry, Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a US Consulate or Embassy before entering the US. In addition, Canadian citizens may have their employers file an initial TN visa petition with USCIS to have their TN visa approved before traveling to the US, while Mexicans cannot. Mexican nationals however, can subsequently apply to extend their TN visa status in the U.S. or obtain a new visa at a consulate or embassy.
For more details and information on the process to obtain a TN visa and the documentation required, visit our TN visa page. If you would like an appointment with one of our experienced immigration lawyers please call 617-303-2600 today or request your appointment online.