Overview

NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. It creates 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.

How Can Professionals from Canada and Mexico Work in the United States?

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

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


Requirements for Canadian Citizens

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:

Requirements for Mexican Citizens

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 – Applying for a TN Visa – Required Documentation

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, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan can generally be expected. The waiting time for an interview appointment for most applicants is a few weeks or less, but for some embassy consular sections it can be considerably longer. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is now available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. Visit the Embassy Consular Section website where you will apply for your visa to find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other instructions.

Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:

Additionally, as nonimmigrants, applicants must demonstrate that:

Employment Letter

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:

What are the Required Fees?

Additional Documentation or Qualifying Requirements

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

Is Licensure Required?

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

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:

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.

How Long Can I Stay?

The maximum period of admission into the U.S is one year. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants extensions of stay in time amounts of one year. There is no limit on the number of years a TN visa holder can stay in the United States. However, the TN visa status is not for permanent residence.

Extension of Stay

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:

How Do I Get More Information on the TN Visa?

Further information on the NAFTA, including the “NAFTA Handbook,” go to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS Website, select North American Trade Agreement.

Canadian citizens can find more specific information regarding TN visas through Embassy Ottawa’s website.

About the NAFTA Professional Job Series List

For a complete list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials, see appendix 1603.D.1 on NAFTA’s webpage. 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.

Additional Information

Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas, provides important information about ineligibilities.


Visa Ineligibility/ Waiver

The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas provides important information about ineligibilities, by reviewing sections of the law taken from the immigration and Nationality Act.

Visa Denials

If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a TN visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. For additional information, select Denials to learn more.


Entering the U.S. – Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port-of-entry in the United States, such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing, and request permission to enter the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration inspector will permit or deny admission to the United States, and determine your length of stay in the U.S., on any particular visit. Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is validated by the immigration official. Form I-94, which documents your authorized stay in the U.S., is very important to keep in your passport. Additionally, as a Mexican citizen seeking entry as a NAFTA professional, you must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Immigration Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. To find out more detailed information about admissions and entry in the U.S., select Admissions to go to the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Internet site.

Staying Beyond Your Authorized Stay in the U.S. and Being Out of Status

Further Visa Inquiries