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NAFTA Professional Workers from Canada or Mexico

Q:  What is the TN nonimmigrant classification?
A:  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.  The TN classification was created following Congressional approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on December 8, 1993.

Q:  What professional activities may a TN worker engage in?
A:  With certain limited exceptions, eligible professional activities are activities that require at least a bachelor’s degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional.  The specific occupations that qualify for the TN nonimmigrant classification are listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 to Annex 1603 of the NAFTA and are reproduced in DHS regulations at 8 CFR 214.6(c).  Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.

Q:  Is there an annual cap or limit on the number of TN visas?
A:  There is no annual limit on the number of TN admissions to the United States.  Further, a single individual may enter the United States in TN status multiple times in a given year.

Q:  How does a Canadian or Mexican citizen obtain TN nonimmigrant classification?
A: Visit our TN NAFTA Professionals webpage for details. 

Q: Why are the rules different for Canadian and Mexican citizens?
A:  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.

Q: How many times can a person apply for TN visas?
A: There is no limit on the number of times a person can apply for a TN visa, seek admission in TN status, or seek extensions of stay in the United States. However, when seeking admission into the United States in TN status, the applicant for admission must establish that the proposed TN stay will be temporary.  A temporary period is defined as one having a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.  Therefore, the applicant for admission must demonstrate that he or she will depart upon completion of the assignment. 

Q:  How long may a person admitted as a TN nonimmigrant remain in the United States?
A:  Professionals are admitted in TN status for a maximum of three years and by the end of that period must either seek readmission in TN nonimmigrant status or apply to USCIS for an extension of stay in the United States. USCIS may grant extension of stays in increments not to exceed three years. 

Q:  Are spouses and children of TN nonimmigrants allowed to enter the U.S.?
A:  Yes.  Spouses and children may be granted nonimmigrant status as a NAFTA dependent (TD) and may be admitted to the United States, but may not work.  See our TN NAFTA Professionals webpage for details.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/28/2012