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TN Visa – A “Simple” and “Fast-Track” Visa for Canadians & Mexicans

By September 29, 2012March 11th, 2021Immigration, TN Visa

If you are Canadian or Mexican and want to work in the United States one of the first Visa choices that you should look at is a TN Visa. TN stands for Trade National Visa and the TN Visa was established as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, United States and Mexico. The Visa is a great option as it does not require the dreaded company sponsorship that many other visas require.  In fact, the two biggest requirements are that you are one of the professions listed under the NAFTA agreement and that you have a job offer from a company.  Here is how it works.


What Qualifications Do You Need?

To qualify for a TN Visa you must have an offer of employment from a U.S. company to work in a profession that is listed on the NAFTA occupation list.  While some of the professions are very specific like Doctor or Lawyer, others are somewhat general like Management Consultant.  For each profession, the Statute also lists the education credentials that are required.  For example, for a Management Consultant, you must have either a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent work experience as a Consultant.  A complete list of the professions and the required academic credentials can be found by clicking here.

Does a TN Visa Require Sponsorship?

No.  You can find out more about why a TN visa does not require sponsorship by clicking here. In short, the TN visa does not require traditional sponsorship like some other Visas (eg. H-1B).

How Long Is A TN Visa Good For?

TN visa status allows you to live and work in the United States for up to three years at a time.  Your TN Visa can be renewed for additional three-year periods and there is no maximum number of years for TN visa status.  Keep in mind though that a TN Visa is considered a “temporary” Visa so you must be able to show that you intend to leave once your Visa expires.  Also, I have heard of situations where the Government has questioned a person’s intent when they attempted to renew this Visa over an extended period.  (One person who had problems was trying to renew after 10 years of having the Visa).  Another great thing about the TN Visa is that your employer can file an extension for you so you do not actually have to leave the country after the three-year period.  As such, you can renew your Visa from the comfort of your own home.

What Do I Have To Do? 

As a general rule, you may apply for TN status when entering the United States at the border. You must provide a letter from your prospective U.S. employer offering you a job in the United States and the job must be one that is included on the NAFTA list of professional occupations.  You must also provide a copy of your degree, license, and/or employment records to show that you qualify for the position.  You will also have to show proof of Canadian citizenship, such as a Canadian passport or Birth Certificate.  A good application will also have a letter that describes why you meet the elements set out in the law and this is why you need a lawyer’s help.  Keep in mind that if you get denied entry into the U.S., this could impact your ability to visit and work in the U.S. in the future.

Can My Family Come With Me?

Once you obtain TN Visa status, your husband/wife and minor children may accompany you to live in the United States.  Your dependents would hold TD (“Trade Dependent”) status, which is valid for the duration of your TN Visa status but regrettably this status does not give dependents authorization to work while in the U.S.  If your spouse wishes to work, he or she would have to qualify for his or her own TN or other work visa categories.

So Why a TN Visa?

The biggest advantage of a TN Visa is the speed at which it can be obtained.  Also, the Visa is unique in that it does not require sponsorship or petition for Canadians, and the visa may be obtained directly at the border.  As a result, there is no long wait for immigration status to be approved.  Also, there is not a cap on TN visas.  In addition, unlike the maximum length of stay imposed on the H-1B and L-1 Visa categories the TN Visa can be renewed indefinitely.   Finally, as this Visa is considered temporary, you may have a tax savings if you are considered a non-resident for city, State or Federal purposes.  All in all this is a great Visa choice if you qualify.

Are There Some Drawbacks To A TN Visa?

One big drawback of a TN Visa is that it is considered “temporary.”  While this generally will not limit your stay in the U.S. the TN Visa category makes it tough to apply for a Green Card.  As such, in order to obtain a Green Card, you must switch to another type of Visa before applying.

Do You Need A Lawyer?

The short answer is yes.   Like any Immigration Statute, the NAFTA agreement and the relevant TN provisions are complicated and you must demonstrate to immigration officials why you have met all of the legal elements.  This Visa is not a procedural form and in order to significantly increase your chances of success, you should consult a lawyer.  This is particularly the case if you are applying under one of the more general categories like management consultant.  I had a TN Visa for 10 years and the only issue I encountered was well before I was a lawyer and I thought I could do it myself.  When I attempted to cross the border, my self-drafted letter was severely criticized. (again, before I was a lawyer).  The immigration official ended up letting me cross but from that point forward, I let the lawyers do the work and it was smooth sailing.

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 1-888-529-2964 or email us at

Click here for PDF version. 

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

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This website and blog constitutes attorney advertising. Do not consider anything in this website or blog legal advice and nothing in this website constitutes an attorney-client relationship being formed. Set up a one-hour consultation with us before acting on anything you read here. Past results are no guarantee of future results and prior results do not imply or predict future results. Each case is different and must be judged on its own merits.


  • Dante says:

    Hello ,
    I belong to a group of Engineering professionals of Mexican nationality under TN Visa currently on furlough due to COVID-19. All of us have been hired through different contract houses working for the same company.
    As of now none of us know whether to apply or if we are legally-entitled to file for unemployment.
    There is great confusion on whether could be beneficial or have a negative impact on our migratory status/record

    Would you have any information in regards to this?

    Any sort of help shall be greatly appreciated

    • IanScott says:

      Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your business and look forward to helping you. Please find attached a link that you can use to set up a 30 minute ($150) or 1 hour ($250) consultation. The system allows you to select a lawyer and a day and time that is convenient to you. If you end up hiring the firm and your bill is greater than $2,500, we will apply this consultation fee to your final bill. Please reach out if you have any questions.

  • kimmer says:

    Hi Scott,

    I am a Canadian citizen and my potential employer, a medium-size U.S. financial institution based in California, would like to hire me for the position of AML(Anti-Money Laundering)/Compliance analyst. Their job description indicates that they would like to hire candidates with law degrees (LL.B. J.D. LL.M.) because of the job responsibilities (i.e. support and enhance management reporting in order to enable the firm to assess and enhance its Financial Crime framework and so forth). Do you think that I am eligible to work under a TN Visa status (under the category of lawyer)? I do have my LLB and LLM degrees. Do you think that the outcome will be different – if my prospective employer is going to hire me as a part of their legal department?

  • Arturo Javier Caraballo says:

    Hi Scott,
    I am in the same situation as Maureen with the difference of being Mexican.
    I apply to job opportunities, get fast repplies by the employes interested in my participarion at.their companies but when the recruiters and or hiring managers find out I am a Mexican they insist on my legal status and rights to legally apply for the job and all is ended.
    I beleive there is a lack of knowledge and understanding from most of us in the matter which at the end difficults the proceding actions. I beleive this situation evolves in a lack of trust from the would be employer to the candidate’s statements in comments like “a TN Visa would not require your company’s aponsorship, just a formal job offer”

    So, when is the “best time” to reach for a immigration lawyer, as yourself, when I am screening for job opportunities, when the companies are responding and making the same questions mentioned by Maureen?, or until there’s a genuine interest and a job offer may be landed?

  • Steve Bianco says:

    Hi Scott,
    Can a Canadian citizen who is a physician qualify for a TN visa from an employer in TX if the job is 100% clinical and 0% research?
    The website for the TN visa lists physician as a job that qualifies but also states that it must be a research position only??

  • Eduardo says:

    Hi I have a TN Visa, and I am planning to get married in a couple of months, situation here is that my new wife has a disabled kid (25 years old) with mental paralysis of a 3 years old, can he be granted a Visa under my TN visa?

  • Centa says:

    Hello, I have dual citizenship (Canadian and Italian). I have been in the US for my master and I am about to finish my PhD. I entered the US with an Italian passport but I also have a Canadian one. Can I change my status from a F1 visa with an Italian passport to a TN visa (with the Canadian passport) from the US even if I entered form Europe with an Italian passport?

  • Priyanka says:

    I am a Canadian citizen, currently on an H4 as my husband (Canadian citizen) is on an H1B.
    I would like to apply for the TN (I am a new attorney) but want to make sure in case I am denied, I can still enter on the H4?

  • Carlos Sala says:

    I´m here working under a TN visa but I have always wondering if it is possible to obtain a visa for the my kids babysitter. She has worked with us since my girls (3 year old) were born and we and my kids really miss her.


  • Kevin choi says:

    For a hotel manager tn1 visa, I am a canadian, I have 5years experience for Hotel General Manager but I have Bachelor degree of Public Administration and MBA degree for international banking. Can I get TN1 Visa ? If I have job offer from hotel in Washington.

    • IanScott says:

      Thank you very much for contacting us and we welcome the opportunity to help you with your legal needs.

      At your earliest convenience, we would be happy to offer you a consultation with one of our lawyers. If after the consultation you decide to hire us to work on your matter and your billing is greater than $2,500, our $250 one hour consultation fee will be waived and the amount will be applied towards your future bill. (As such, the consultation would be free).

      While some legal questions appear straight forward, most do not have a yes or no answer and a proper answer requires a review of the facts and circumstances as well as an application of legal knowledge. Moreover, almost all questions require follow up and additional analysis that is best done during a consultation.

      We look forward to working with you and please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation. For your ease of reference, I have included information below to set up a consultation.

      Please find attached our credit card link to make your $250 consultation payment for a one hour consultation. If you end up hiring the firm and your bill is greater than $2,500, we will apply this consultation fee to your final bill. Once we receive the payment, we can schedule and confirm your appointment. Please reach out if you have any questions.

  • Ashley says:

    Thank you; this was incredibly informative. Quick question: If I am able to secure a job with the TN visa (Canadian looking to work in the US), can I at some point apply for another job where my employer would sponsor me and switch to another visa based on that sponsorship? I am getting a lot of job offers but no one is willing to provide sponsorship for employment.

    Thank you,


    • IanScott says:

      Thank you for contacting us. You can only work for the TN employer that hires you but you can have multiple TN visas. You can switch to any visa that you are eligible for including a green card.

      Kind regards,

  • Maureen says:

    Hi Scott,
    Great article. I’m a Canadian and want to work in the US. My profession falls under the TN professions list. I’ve been applying for jobs and keep coming across questions in the application stating –
    ‘Are you legally authorized to work in the US’ ‘Can you provide proof upon hire that you can legally work in the US’ ‘Can you legally work in the US or do you require sponsorship?’

    I’ve been answering ‘no’ to these questions and then I get a message stating I don’t meet the qualifications of the position. After reading your article, I think I can answer ‘yes’. Am I correct?
    Thanks for your help.

  • Tim Hyatt says:

    I am a Canadian citizen living in the US on a TN Visa.
    I have been in a relationship with a women from China here on a visitors visa.
    I would like to some day marry this women. Could we marry in the US and have her added to my TN visa as a TD? Or is it much more complicated than this?

  • Juan Rodriguez says:

    Hello, I am a mexican citizen and I want to get a TN visa. However, I do not have a degree. How can I prove that I have the experience for the job I’m being offered? I have been working for more than 10 years in this profession

    Thanks for your help

    • IanScott says:

      Hello, It depends on the category and whether the category requires a degree. If the category requires a degree, there is no way around it. Some categories will substitute a degree with experience. Please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation. Kind regards,

  • Tiffanyyt says:

    Hi Scott,

    I have Canada citizenship but my permanent residency belongs to another country. Is this going to affect my TN application? Also, when you mention “a letter” is needed for application, what information is included inside the letter? Thanks for your help.

  • Bhargav says:

    Hi Scott,

    I am an engineer by profession and working in the Supply chain department of multinational companies. I want to pursue the TN option to work in US. I am a Canadian citizen and would like to know if I can still remain in the Supply Chain domain or I need to go into core engineering.

    • IanScott says:

      Thank you for contacting us. You may be able to stay in your current job if you can make a link to what an engineer does OR you may be eligible for another TN category. We would need to set up a consultation and see your resume and job description to answer. We can set up a one hour consultation and we charge $250 for this. Please let us know if you would like to set something up. Kind regards,

  • llogan says:

    Hi Mexican citizen here applying for jobs in the US. I qualify for TN status since my degree is under the qualified professions, but when filling out applications do i need to say i need sponsorship to work in the US? Companies hate the word ‘sponsorship’.


  • Javier Mejia says:


    I am a mexican citizen and I got a TN visa in 2014 for 3 years, however, I left the company in which I was working to do my MSc, Is my TN visa still valid if I want to look for a job in other company?


    • IanScott says:

      Hello, TN Visas are only valid for the company they are issued for. When you stop working for the company, you are no longer in valid TN status and the visa cannot be transferred to a new company. The new company must apply for you.

  • Alex says:

    Hello Ian,

    I have a degree in Accounting and I got a TN Status VISA in the past for a “Planner” job offer. Immigration asked me the relationship between both and I explained that I apply some concepts plus I have experience in the Supply Chain field.

    Now, for some reason I need to find another company, I may have a job offer for a “Production Planner” position, do you see a chance to have the TN Status denied since the position may not be related to my degree?

    Last time they granted my status under the “Economics” profesional occupation. I have more than 10 years executing jobs related to this position.

    Thank you in advance.

    • IanScott says:

      We are happy to help. Please let us know if you would like to set up a one hour consultation with one of our lawyers. Our $250 consultation fee is applied towards your final bill should you decide to hire us. We look forward to hearing from you.

  • Marvin Gallardo says:

    I´m from Mexico, I´ve got a Bachelor´s Degree in Business Management from a University in Mexico, besides, I´ve got a certificate in Hospitality Management from a University in the U.S.; I have 4 years experience in Hospitality: 1.5 years in Hotels and 2.5 years in Princess Cruises. The hotel I´m training now wants to offer me a position as a Guest Services Supervisor. Do I qualify for a TN visa?

    • IanScott says:

      Thank you for contacting us. We would have to look at your resume and background and have a conversation to see if there is anything that would be available. We would be happy to do this in the contsext of a consultation and charge $250 for one hour. If you end up hiring us, we apply this amount to your final bill. Kind regards,

  • Kara says:

    I am currently working in the US on a TN visa, I have received a temporary offer from a different company. Do I need to ask the new employer to process a new TN visa request?

  • Ron says:

    Informative post. Am going for TN visa for the first time. Can you sight any source where “4-year” bachelor degree requirement is mentioned? Thanks for help.

  • Marco A. Martínez says:

    Hello Scott,
    I have dual citizenship (Canadian and Mexican), currently livein Mexico because of work and married to a Mexican citizen. I hold a Ph.D. from Canada and have an offer from a company based in the U.S. I used to have a green card but had to give up my permant residency status when I moved up to Canada to work on my Ph.D. Looks like TN visa is the way to go,?

    • IanScott says:

      Hello, We would be happy to help you. TN is an option. You may run in to problems as you had the green card though. Please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation. Kind regards,

  • jbanker says:

    I have been in the US for past 8 years on H4, TN and H1b visas.
    I am currently on my 6th year of H1 and my employer is not going to process GC.
    What are the chances of getting TN at this point?
    Thank you,

  • Johnny Gurkha says:

    I have companies willing to offer me employment and write the offer of employment letter. I have a 4 year bachelor degree in computer science from a US college. However, I ended up accruing overstay while waiting for change of status from F1(OPT) to H1 (small company lawyer sent the application after my status had expired). So although my H1 petition was approved I wasn’t allowed back in and ended a reentry bar.

    So subsequently applied for a waiver and have been going back to US for tourism. Every time I cross I show them the waiver and recently they haven’t been grilling as much but in August I’d to go to NYC for a meeting and they really grilled me at the airport for not having a letter from my Employer etc. Understandably, they’re wary of previous status violators. It’s irrelevant whether it was on purpose or due to ignorance.

    My questions is when I apply for TN status at the border, with waiver in hand, could I be denied entry because of my previous overstay with everything else being in order? Also, with a CS degree could I quality under Software Engineer (a border agent might not see things the way we do). Would I be grilled on specifics of the job if I enter as System Analyst (I’ve heard this one leads to lots of questions).

    Thanks in advance for your answer.

    • IanScott says:

      Dear Johnny,

      There are many issues and questions in this post so it would not be possible to answer any of these questions without more information. Given your prior visa issues, I would advise you to seek out the assistance of a qualified immigration lawyer. We would be happy to set up a consult with you and our $250 fee would be later waived if you decided later to do future work with us.

  • Marcel says:

    Hi Scot
    This is my question: in order to obtain a TN Status (or TN Visa?) you need to have
    * Canadian Citizenship (aka Canadian Passport)
    * Professional Engineer status (aka. Diploma that Certificates that you are Prof. Eng issued by the Provincial Association i.e. APEGA for Alberta)
    * Original Degree from your University (?) or with the APEGA Diploma is enough?
    * Job Offer that states: Salary, Position, Duties/Responsibilities, Term (?)
    Term: it can be indefinitely or it should be for specific period of time?
    Like 12 months with automatic renewal unless you/employer does not want to continues


    • IanScott says:

      Dear Marcel,
      You should include the original degree and I am not sure what APEGA is. For term, the TN visa is a temporary visa so the letter should not say it is a permanent position. All visas require renewal. The letter does have other legal requirements so best to have it done by a lawyer.

      • Marcel says:

        Hi Scot
        Thank you very much for your answer,

        APEGA: Association of Professional Engineers and Geo-scientist of Alberta. It is the Board that regulates/control/authorizes the profession.

        In Canada, you can not “called you” Engineer or work as an “Engineer” unless you have been authorized by the Provincial Professional Association, in Alberta it is APEGA.


  • Sera says:

    Can I be in the states while my lawyer applies for a three year TN visa for me less than a week before my one year TN expires?

    • IanScott says:

      As you have a lawyer who has seen the details of your file, you really should address this question to him/her so that they can present you with options. Given you have counsel, it would really be inappropriate for me to comment on your case.

  • newh1 says:

    Thanx for posting this informative and useful article.

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