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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 Agreement was renegotiated in 2019 but the immigration aspects did not change.

The Visa is a great option as it does not require company sponsorship.  In order to be eligible for this Visa, you must be one of the professions listed under the NAFTA agreement and that you must have a job offer from a company.

One advantage of the TN Visa is the speed at which it can be obtained.  Also, the Visa is unique in that it does not require sponsorship or a formal petition. For Canadians the visa can be obtained at the border.   Also, there is no Cap for TN visas.  Unlike the maximum length of stay imposed on the H-1B and L-1 Visa categories the TN Visa can be renewed indefinitely.

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TN Visa Requirements

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Requisitos de la visa TN Visa

Requirements & Eligibility

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 Accountant 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 in the field you will consult in or equivalent work experience as a Consultant.  In order to qualify, your degree should be in the same or related field as the profession. For example, someone applying under the Accountant field, should have a degree in Accounting or a related degree.

Application Process

Canadians can apply for this visa when they cross the border.  They can enter at any port of entry and would bring the  job offer letter and relevant supporting documentation.  There is a small fee of $50 that is paid when you apply and the examiner will approve or deny the application during the short interview.  You may also file a petition with USCIS but this is not very common.  For nationals from Mexico, you must file a DS-160 and obtain the TN visa at the U.S. consulate.

How long does the Visa last for?

TN visa status allows you to live and work in the United States for up to three years at a time. Canadians will be able to enter during a 3 year period but the Visa for Mexican nationals is only issued for 1 year.  Mexican nationals can pay a small fee to have the time extended to 4 years.

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.  We 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).  You can also file an extension with USCIS if you do not wish to leave the country.

How are family members treated?

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.

If your spouse and children are Canadian, they are visa exempt also and can obtain the TN visa at the border. If they are not Canadian, they must obtain the Visa at a U.S. Consulate.  Only Canadians can obtain a TN visa immediately at a border.

Other considerations or related articles?

Find more information on various immigration topics discussed in our blog.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for TN Visa

Find more information on various immigration topics discussed in our blog.


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