Working in the United States
TN NAFTA Professionals
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. You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:
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.
If you are a Canadian citizen, then you are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate.
You may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time you 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. You must provide the following documentation to the CBP officer:
Please refer to CBP’s website for additional information and requirements for applying for admission to the United States. If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.
Alternatively, a prospective TN employer may choose to file on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is outside the United States by submitting Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS. Premium Processing Service is available.
If USCIS approves Form I-129, you, the prospective worker, may then apply to CBP for admission to the United States as a TN nonimmigrant by providing the following documentation to a CBP Officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station:
In addition, when applying for admission, you should have in your possession a copy of the Form I-129, and all supporting documentation that was submitted to USCIS, to respond to questions about your eligibility. You should also be prepared to pay any applicable inspection fees at the time you seek admission. If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, youwill be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.
If you are a Mexican citizen, then you are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant. You should apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. See the U.S. Department of State webpage, "Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker."
Once you are approved for a TN visa, you may apply for admission at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. Please refer to CBP’s website for additional information and requirements for applying for admission to the United States. If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, then you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.
Period of Stay/Extension of Stay
If you wish to remain in the United States beyond your initial period of stay without first departing from the United States, you must seek an extension of stay. If you are in the United States, your employer may file Form I-129 on your behalf.
Alternatively, you may depart from the United States before the date your status expires, and then, once abroad, you may apply at a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station using the same application and documentation procedures required at the time of your initial application for admission as a TN nonimmigrant.
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. Spouses and children are:
See the table below for specific information on how to apply for TD nonimmigrant status.
Application Information for Dependents or Spouses of TN nonimmigrants
Extending Your TD Nonimmigrant Stay
If a Canadian or Mexican TN nonimmigrant applies for an extension of stay in the United States at the end of his or her period of admission or authorization as a TN, any eligible TD family member may also apply to extend their status without the need to travel abroad.
If a Mexican TD dependent wishes to travel abroad following approval of any such extension of stay and expiration of the TD visa, the family member will be required to apply for a new TD visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before being permitted to return to the United States in TD status.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/17/2013