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How to Apply for TN Status from Canada or Mexico

Woman learning how to apply for TN status from Mexico

For Canadian and Mexican citizens, TN status in the United States is a unique privilege. The TN status visa category is very similar to the H-1B visa, but it is only available to citizens of Canada and Mexico. What’s more, there isn’t all of the cumbersome and expensive paperwork. Anyone from these countries that wants to work in the United States should learn how to apply for TN status.

The TN visa was derived through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). TN stands for “Treaty NAFTA” and is growing in popularity each year. With TN status, a visa holder can live and work in the United States for an initial period of three years. That initial term can be renewed in three-year increments as long as needed.

Some of the best features of the TN visa include:

  • Can be renewed indefinitely
  • Generally quick renewal process
  • Much easier than H-1B visa
  • Inexpensive

TN Status Visa Requirements

You can be a NAFTA professional employed in the USA if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • Your profession is on the NAFTA list of TN job categories
  • Your position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional
  • You will work full-time or part-time job for a specified employer
  • You are qualified based on the educational and/or experience specified

If you meet the visa requirements listed above and you have a U.S. employer who wants to hire you for a related job, there’s a straight-forward process to apply for TN status.

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Applying for TN Status as a Canadian Citizen

If you are a Canadian citizen, you can apply for TN status at the port of entry. The U.S. Department of State does not require Canadian citizens to apply a U.S. consulate. That’s because Canadian citizens are generally eligible for admission as nonimmigrants without a visa.

You may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time enter the United States by presenting required documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain U.S. ports of entry.

Present the following documentation to the CBP officer:

  • Canadian Passport: Provide a current, unexpired passport as evidence of citizenship in Canada.
  • Employer Letter: The employer should provide a letter that describes the position, confirms that the position is temporary and its expected duration, and include full details of why it is an eligible TN professional occupation. The letter should state that the TN applicant will be hired as an employer and detail the specific salary. Further, the letter should include some information about the nature of the employer’s business.
  • Employment Contract: Provide evidence of a contract for employment (if applicable).
  • Documentation of Qualifications: Submit evidence of the applicant’s qualifications for the position. This may include but is not limited to a degree and applicant’s resume (curriculum vitae). Generally, you should consider submitting documentation that proves the U.S. equivalency of any foreign qualifications. A qualified credentials evaluator can provide this confirmation and must be accompanied by verbatim translations of any certificates/transcripts in languages other than English.

In some cases, the U.S. employer may choose to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is not required. If USCIS approves Form I-129, you, the prospective TN professional may apply to CBP at the port of entry by providing a Canadian passport and a copy of the Form I-129F approval notice. It is highly recommended that you carry a copy of the complete I-129 petition package. (The petition package includes the form and all supporting documents.)

Applying for TN Status as a Mexican Citizen

Mexican citizens must obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN professional. Before applying for the TN visa online, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you (in Mexico) to learn if they have special instructions.

Complete the online visa application (Form DS-160) on the State Department website. Upon completion, you’ll be able to schedule an appointment at the U.S. embassy or consular near you. Present the following documentation to the consular officer at your TN visa interview:

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application: Make a copy of the Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Mexican Passport: Provide a current, unexpired passport as evidence of citizenship in Mexico. (In general, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.)
  • Application Receipt: Provide proof that you paid the DS-160 fee.
  • Employer Letter: The employer should provide a letter that describes the position, confirms that the position is temporary and its expected duration, and include full details of why it is an eligible TN professional occupation. The letter should state that the TN applicant will be hired as an employer and detail the specific salary. Further, the letter should include some information about the nature of the employer’s business.
  • Employment Contract: Provide evidence of a contract for employment (if applicable).
  • Documentation of Qualifications: Submit evidence of the applicant’s qualifications for the position. This may include but is not limited to a degree and applicant’s resume (curriculum vitae). Generally, you should consider submitting documentation that proves the U.S. equivalency of any foreign qualifications. A qualified credentials evaluator can provide this confirmation and must be accompanied by verbatim translations of any certificates/transcripts in languages other than English.

Once you are approved for a TN visa, you may enter the United States at an official port of entry. If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, then you will be admitted as a TN professional.

Spouse and Children of TN Professionals

Generally, the spouse and children (under the age of 21) may also enter the United States with the TN professional. Dependents are admitted with the TD visa status.

Each individual who needs a TD visa must submit a separate application. However, unlike the primary TN worker, dependents do not have to be citizens of Canada or Mexico.

Canadian Dependents

Dependents of Canadian TN workers may seek TD status directly at a U.S. port of entry. They may request TD status at the same time the principal requests TN status. Alternatively, they may seek status at a later day (after the principal TN worker has entered.) Each TD applicant (spouse and children of TN professionals) should present the following items at the port of entry:

  • A valid, unexpired passport
  • Original marriage certificate (if spouse)
  • Original birth certificate listing both names of parents (if child)
  • Copy of TN professional’s I-94 arrival/departure record (if dependents entering at a later date)

Important: Any documents being submitted to CBP officers must include a certified translation if not in English.

Mexican Dependents

Dependents of Mexican TN workers must obtain a TD visa stamp at a U.S. embassy or consulate before appearing at a U.S. port of entry. Each embassy or consular may have their own requirements. Each TD applicant must electronically file the DS-160 visa application. Generally, TD applicants (spouse and children of TN professionals) must present the following items when appearing for the interview:

  • Copy of DS-160 confirmation page
  • Receipt for TD application fee
  • A valid, unexpired passport
  • Original marriage certificate (if spouse)
  • Original birth certificate listing both names of parents (if child)
  • Copy of TN professional’s I-94 arrival/departure record (if dependents entering at a later date)

The spouse and children in TD visa status may attend school in America on a full-time basis. However, they are not eligible for employment authorization. In order to work, a TD visa holder would need to change status to an employment-authorized nonimmigrant category.

RECOMMENDED: Special Considerations for TN Professionals Who Adjust Status

Eligible TN Job Categories

Before you apply for TN status, make sure your U.S. employer can categorize you in on the following job classifications:

Job Title/RoleRequirement
AccountantBaccalaureate Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.
ArchitectBaccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license
Computer Systems AnalystBaccalaureate Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate and three years’ experience
Disaster Relief Insurance Claims AdjusterBaccalaureate Degree and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years’ experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims
EconomistBaccalaureate Degree
EngineerBaccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license
ForesterBaccalaureate; or state/provincial license
Graphic DesignerBaccalaureate; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate and three years’ experience
Hotel ManagerBaccalaureate in hotel/restaurant management; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management and three years’ experience in hotel/restaurant management
Industrial DesignerBaccalaureate; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience
Interior DesignerBaccalaureate or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience
Land SurveyorBaccalaureate or state/provincial/federal license
Landscape ArchitectBaccalaureate Degree
Lawyer (including Notary in the province of Quebec)L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar
LibrarianM.L.S., or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate Degree was a prerequisite)
Management ConsultantBaccalaureate; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years’ experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement
Mathematician (including Statistician)4Baccalaureate Degree
Range Manager/Range ConservationistBaccalaureate Degree
Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)Baccalaureate Degree
Scientific Technician/Technologist5Possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research
Social WorkerBaccalaureate Degree
Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)Baccalaureate Degree
Technical Publications WriterBaccalaureate Degree, or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience
Urban Planner (including Geographer)Baccalaureate Degree
Vocational CounselorBaccalaureate Degree
MEDICAL/ALLIED PROFESSIONALS
DentistD.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental or state/provincial license
DietitianBaccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license
Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)6Baccalaureate Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience
NutritionistBaccalaureate Degree
Occupational TherapistBaccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license
PharmacistBaccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license
Physician (teaching or research only)M.D. Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license
Physiotherapist/Physical TherapistBaccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license
PsychologistState/provincial license
Recreational TherapistBaccalaureate Degree
Registered nursestate/provincial license
VeterinarianD.V.M., D.M.V., or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license
SCIENTIST
Agriculturist (including Agronomist)Baccalaureate Degree
Animal BreederBaccalaureate Degree
Animal ScientistBaccalaureate Degree
ApiculturistBaccalaureate Degree
AstronomerBaccalaureate Degree
BiochemistBaccalaureate Degree
Biologist7Baccalaureate Degree
ChemistBaccalaureate Degree
Dairy ScientistBaccalaureate Degree
EntomologistBaccalaureate Degree
EpidemiologistBaccalaureate Degree
GeneticistBaccalaureate Degree
GeochemistBaccalaureate Degree
GeologistBaccalaureate Degree
Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)Baccalaureate Degree
HorticulturistBaccalaureate Degree
MeteorologistBaccalaureate Degree
PharmacologistBaccalaureate Degree
Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)Baccalaureate Degree
Plant BreederBaccalaureate Degree
Poultry ScientistBaccalaureate Degree
Soil ScientistBaccalaureate Degree
ZoologistBaccalaureate Degree
TEACHER
CollegeBaccalaureate Degree
SeminaryBaccalaureate Degree
UniversityBaccalaureate Degree
Source: USCIS