Does My Employer Have to Sponsor me for a TN Visa? Does a TN Visa require Sponsorship?

A Trade National (TN) visa is a visa available to nationals from Canada and Mexico and is based on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  The visa is available to certain Canadian professionals who are designated by the agreement (NAFTA occupation list) and who meet the education and/or experience requirements.  In addition, you must have an offer of employment from a U.S. company and pay a $50 fee when crossing the border.  While some of the professions are very specific like Scientist or Economist, others are more general like Management Consultant.  A complete list of the professions and the required academic credentials can be found by clicking here.  You can also find out more about the TN visa by clicking here.

One very common TN visa client question we receive is – Does a TN visa require sponsorship?  The short answer no (at least not in the way that we typically view what sponsorship means -eg. H-1B or a Green Card) but employers often have a tough time understanding this and regrettably are not that familiar with the TN visa.  As a Canadian who spent over 10 years on a TN visa, I am intimately familiar with the significant challenges associated with trying to convince employers that a TN visa does not require sponsorship.   For one applicant, we wrote the following email to the employer to explain the common misconception regarding “sponsorship” and share it here.

“My name is Ian E. Scott and I am an immigration attorney.  I am writing to explain the TN visa requirements and to dispel the common perception that the TN visa requires sponsorship.  The TN visa is a visa that is issued to Canadian and Mexican nationals only and is based on the North American Free Trade Agreement between the countries.  Immigration benefits like the H-1B and Green Cards often require an extended process that involves the hiring company meeting a number of immigration compliance requirements as well as filing a petition with the U.S. Government.  These requirements are commonly referred to as “sponsorship” and the requirements can be onerous. The TN visa though is a visa that a Canadian can get at the border as they cross by showing the U.S. government an offer letter from the company.  The company does not have to file a petition and is not subject to any reporting or other compliance requirements.  Instead, the Canadian applicant simply pays a fee of $50 at the border and they can start working at the company as soon as they enter.   The visa is the simplest visas to process and is far from sponsorship.”

If you encounter employers who do not understand the TN visa process or feel that they will have to undertake significant efforts to hire you, contact us and we can work with you to explain how a TN visa works.  We can also assist the employer with drafting the offer letter so that it meets the TN visa requirements.

If you are considering a TN Visa, contact Scott Legal, P.C..  For more information on this and other immigration Visas click here.  You can also call us at 212-223-2964 or email us at

Also, click here for your free White Paper that summarizes the top 10 Immigration Questions and Answers.


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