TN visa — North American Free Trade Agreement for Canadian and Mexican Citizens


Eligibility Criteria:


The TN visa category is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. There is no U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) limit on the number of workers granted TN status each year.


The TN visa category requires that the applicant:


  • Is a citizen of Canada or Mexico. Landed immigrants or permanent residents do not qualify.
  • Enters the U.S. on a temporary basis.
  • Possesses the minimum qualifications of one of the professions specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty. The Appendix also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation. The most common minimum requirement is a Baccalaureate degree and licensure, if required for the profession. A foreign national must have licensure before he or she can obtain TN status.

NOTE: If a Canadian or Mexican citizen obtained his or her credentials in a country other than Canada, Mexico, or the U.S., USCIS may request that the alien obtain an equivalency evaluation from a reliable credential evaluation service.


Additional Information for Selected Occupations:


The following occupations have additional criteria that must be met to qualify for a TN visa.



TN physicians are limited to teaching and/or research activities. A TN physician cannot be primarily engaged in clinical patient care. This rule applies even if the TN physician obtained his or her medical education in a U.S. medical school. Patient care incidental to teaching/research is permissible. Canadian physicians seeking entry to participate in residencies, internships or direct patient care must use the J-1 or H-1 classification.




Canadian nurses must be licensed by the state of intended employment.



Medical Laboratory Technologists/Medical Technologists


The term “medical technologist” does not include allied medical occupations such as radiological technologists, respiratory specialists and nuclear medicine technologists.

Healthcare Workers


Nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical technicians/technologists, speech/language pathologists and audiologists, and physician assistants must obtain a certificate from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or an equivalent independent credentialing organization before being eligible for TN status.


Management Consultants

This category is limited to:

independent consultants coming to render services to a U.S. employer on a particular project,

employees of consulting firms contracted by a U.S. business to render services and

employees of U.S. companies hired for special projects rather than for existing positions or newly-created permanent positions.


Length of Stay in the US:

Both Canadian and Mexican citizens can be admitted to the United States in TN status in increments of up to three years. There is no cumulative time limit on TN status and status can be renewed indefinitely, provided the stay remains temporary in nature. Extensions of stay are granted in up to three year increments.


Canadians can apply for an extension of TN status either at a U.S.-Canadian pre-flight or port-of-entry inspection facility or by filing an application for extension of stay with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Nebraska Service Center. Procedures and required documentation are the same as for new entries (port-of-entry) or change of status (USCIS).


Processing Times:


Processing requirements differ for Canadians and Mexicans. Mexican citizens are required to obtain TN visas from a U.S. consulate before they can enter the U.S. in TN status. Canadian citizens are exempt from this requirement.




Dependents of TN status holders (spouses and children under 21) are admitted in TD (Trade Dependent) status. TD status holders are not authorized to work the U.S., but they may attend academic institutions either part or full-time.


Since Canadian citizens do not need visas, Canadian citizen dependents can either apply for TD status at the port-of-entry at the same time as the TN or at a later time with copies of the TN's I-94 card and employment letter. They must show proof of relationship to the TN, as well as Canadian citizenship.


Dependents of Canadian citizens who do not hold Canadian citizenship are required to have TD visas. They must apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate prior to admission to the U.S.


Mexican citizen dependents of TNs require TD visas. They may apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate or they may apply for a change of status through the USCIS Nebraska Service Center following the same procedures as non-Canadian dependents of Canadian citizens.


Travel Outside the U.S. and Reentry:


TN status holders may depart and re-enter the U.S. any time during their TN stay. Canadians should carry their original Form I-94.


Mexican citizens, dependents, and non-Canadian dependents of Canadian TNs must carry a passport valid for six months into the future and a valid I-94 card in order to re-enter the U.S. after travel.



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