TN Visa –  A Special Visa for Canadian and Mexican Professionals

What is a TN Visa?TN Visa

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was entered into in 1989 between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, individuals who qualify under a specialized profession are permitted to seek work in the U.S. by obtaining a TN Visa.

A TN Visa is very similar to the H1-B Visa, in that allows a foreign national to be employed by a U.S. employer. It is different from an H1-B Visa in that it is only available to individuals in Mexico, Canada, or the United States. The TN Visa authorizes the individual to live and work in the United States temporarily for a maximum period of three years and can be renewed indefinitely.

Who Qualifies for a TN Visa?

According to the USCIS Website, an individual may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status if:

  • They are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Their profession qualifies under the regulations;
  • The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
  • They have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment); and
  • They have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.

Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA Treaty specifies which professions may qualify for TN nonimmigrant status.

How Do I Apply for a TN Visa?

The process of applying for TN Visas varies between Canadian and Mexican citizens. Canadian citizens may apply for a TN Visa when they reach border patrol, or they may apply by mailing their application for a TN Visa prior to their trip to the U.S.

Mexican citizens must apply for TN Visas through their local U.S. consulate in Mexico. Once they receive their visa stamp, they may enter the U.S. through any designated port of entry.

Can a TN Visa Holder Bring Their Family to the U.S.?

Yes. A TN Visa holder from Mexico or Canada may be eligible to bring their family members with them. Spouses and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for derivative status. Spouses and children under the age of 21 are not permitted to work in the U.S. but they are permitted to study while they are here. The process of bringing family over to the U.S. varies depending on the TN holder’s citizenship, so it may be wise to consult with an immigration attorney.

Can a TN Visa Holder Adjust Status to a Become a Green Card Holder?

A TN Visa is not considered to be a dual-intent visa. This means that if a TN holder is interested in adjusting their status, it can cause problems if the holder tries to travel outside of the U.S. or is seeking to extend their TN status. Generally, a TN Visa holder must wait a 30 to 60-day period before they apply for an adjustment of status; otherwise, the holder jeopardizes their visa by demonstrating immigrant intent and an attempt to gain fraudulent entry into the U.S. It is very important that anyone seeking to adjust their status from a TN Visa to a lawful permanent resident consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that there are no problems with their plans and with the documentation required.


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