TN Visas

TN visa status enables qualified Canadian and Mexican professionals to live and work in the United States with relative flexibility. There is no numerical limitation to the number of TN visas that are issued every year, which makes TN status an appealing option for Canadian and Mexican professionals.

What is a TN Visa?

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created a classification for qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily enter the United States for work and other professional business purposes. In July 2020, the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaced NAFTA but maintained the TN category for USMCA professionals. Appendix 2 of Annex 16-A of USMCA, Chapter 16 lists the job titles and educational requirements for TN visa-eligible positions, which include mostly professional positions, such as engineers, scientists, accountants, lawyers, pharmacists, teachers, and scientists, among many others.

How to Qualify for a TN Visa

Each professional category as listed in USMCA has corresponding minimum education requirements and, if applicable, alternative acceptable credentials. For the majority of professions, the minimum education requirements include a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree. A Canadian or Mexican citizen should ensure that their proposed position in the U.S. corresponds both in title and duties to one of the listed professions in USMCA and that they possess at least the minimum required credentials.

Benefits of a TN Visa

There are a number of benefits to TN status:

  • No labor certification is required and there is no numerical limitation.
  • Depending on the worker’s citizenship and current status, different paths are available to acquire TN status, which allows for greater flexibility.
  • TN status enables an employee to work in either a full-time or part-time position.
  • The TN worker can change or add employers while in the U.S. by filing Form I129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • The TN worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are also eligible for dependent TD nonimmigrant status. While TD status does not allow for employment authorization in the U.S., TN dependents are permitted to study at U.S. institutions.

TN Visa Requirements & Categories

The process of acquiring TN status looks different for Canadian and Mexican citizens.

For Canadian citizens, the worker may choose to either submit a petition to the USCIS or apply for TN status directly at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Port of Entry.

If filing with the USCIS:

  1. The petitioning company will file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, along with supporting documentation that will be used to prove the eligibility of the position and worker.
  2. After the petition is approved, the worker will bring the approval notice to their chosen CBP Port of Entry, along with proof of their Canadian citizenship, and the CBP officer will grant them entrance into the U.S. Since Canadian citizens do not require a visa stamp to enter the U.S., one will not be issued except in certain circumstances, such as when the TN employee’s spouse is not a Canadian citizen and wishes to enter in TD status.
  3. If the worker is already in the U.S., Form I-129 will list a change of status to TN status.

If applying directly at a CBP Port of Entry:

  1. The worker will bring their application materials to the Port of Entry, including all relevant supporting documentation, such as their original qualifying diploma, a letter from their prospective employer, and proof of Canadian citizenship. Please note that some Ports of Entry require an appointment in advance to process TN applications—all TN applicants should check the U.S. CBP website for the most up-to-date information for their chosen port of entry.
  2. An interview will take place with a CBP officer to determine eligibility for TN status.
  3. After the interview, the officer will either permit or deny the worker entry into the U.S.

For Mexican citizens, a TN visa stamp is required to enter the U.S. Mexican citizens must apply for TN status at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico unless they are already in the U.S. If already in the U.S., the worker may file a change of status petition with the USCIS:

  1. The petitioning company will file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, that lists a change of status, along with supporting documentation that will be used to prove the eligibility of the position and worker.
  2. After the petition is approved, the worker may choose to visit only Mexico or Canada for periods not exceeding 30 days and re-enter the U.S. using an expired visa stamp as long as they possess a Form I-797 TN approval notice with a valid I-94 record, have a valid passport, and are otherwise complying with the requirements of their TN status and the visa revalidation process. Otherwise, the worker will need to follow the steps below.

If applying directly at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico:

  1. The worker will submit Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  2. The worker will attend their interview where the immigration officer will determine eligibility and the TN visa will be issued. The worker should be sure to bring proof of employment and proof of eligibility for both the position and their own qualifications in the profession for which they are applying.

How Long Does TN Visa Status Last?

TN status is valid for up to three years and can be renewed for three-year periods indefinitely. An extension can either be filed from within the U.S. by submitting a petition to the USCIS, or the individual may return to their home country and re-apply for TN status.

What is the Cost of a TN Visa? *

For TN petitions submitted to the USCIS:

  • Filing Fee: The standard filing fee is $460 for Form I-129.
  • Premium Processing Fee (optional): This $2,500 fee expedites the USCIS’ processing of petition to within a 15 day time period. For TN applications submitted at a U.S. CBP Port of Entry between the U.S. and Canada:
  • Application Processing Fee: The TN application processing fee is $50.

For TN applications submitted at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico:

  • DS-160 Form Filing Fee: When an employee is applying for a TN visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico, they must pay a Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee. The MRV fee for a TN visa is $160.
  • Reciprocity Fee: When applying for a TN visa, the U.S. requires a reciprocity fee. For Mexican citizens, the reciprocity fees are $104 for a 12-month visa and $382 for a 48-month visa.

*Please note that these fees are subject to change and, under the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published by the USCIS in January 2023, will be increased.

Contact Ellen Freeman For TN Visa Representation

You do not have to represent yourself to obtain a TN visa. Ellen Freeman and her team of legal experts are here to assist you in obtaining a TN visa whether you derive from Canada or Mexico. Give us a call or submit a consultation request through the contact form below.