TN NAFTA Visas
At the law offices of Adan G. Vega & Associates, PLLC our TN visa lawyers have focused exclusively on immigration law for over 40 years. Our dedication to immigration law allows us to acquire in-depth knowledge of the frequently changing laws and regulations under which foreign nationals may enter or immigrate to the United States.
TN Visa Lawyers
Our law firm’s founder, attorney Adan G. Vega, is a seasoned immigration lawyer who is a Board-Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Vega and our team of lawyers offer high-quality and efficient assistance to foreign nationals around the world. To schedule a consultation regarding a TN visa or other work-related visa, call (713) 527-9606 or contact us by email.
TN Visas Advantages Over H Visas For Canadian And Mexican Nationals
The TN visa category was created by the North American Free Trade Agreement for certain Canadians and Mexicans.
TN visas can sometimes be used instead of H-1B visas — they are both nonimmigrant visas for professional workers in specialty occupations, like engineers and architects.
There are three primary advantages to TN visas as opposed to H-1B visas:
- TN visa applications are not limited to a certain number each year.
- TN visa applicants can avoid United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing and processing delays.
- The TN applicants from Mexico can apply directly to the U.S. Embassy/consulate in Mexico or, if Canadian, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Canadian border for review and permission to enter.
- TN visas may be renewed indefinitely. In theory, a TN visa holder can work in the United States for longer periods of time than most other visas.
Contact An Immigration Lawyer with our law office Today!
TN visas have historically been underutilized — especially by Mexican nationals. If you are from Mexico or Canada and wish to work in the United States and have questions about the TN visa, contact Adan G. Vega & Associates, PLLC to schedule a consultation with an experienced TN visa attorney.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico including non-immigrant visas. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to be employed in certain capacities in the United States. However, permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not able to apply for the TN visa to work in the United States. Workers in Canada or Mexico engaged in designated professions may be employed in the U.S. under the following conditions:
- Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Profession of the job offer position is listed on the NAFTA list (Appendix 1306.d.1 of NAFTA chapter 16);
- Job position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
- Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see below for documentation required). Self-employment is not permitted;
- Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications (diploma, license, and/or experience) of the profession as stated in the treaty.
The requirements for applying for the TN by citizens of Canada and Mexico, shown below, are different for applicants of the respective countries.
Requirements for Canadian Citizens
Citizens of Canada are exempt from the visa requirement and they may apply for the TN status directly at one of 14 designated U.S. ports of entry (POE). 8 CFR 214.6 (d)(2);22C.F.R.§41.2(a).
As Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa to enter the U.S., a TN visa can be issued by the U.S. consulate to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. However, a Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and children would need a TN visa from the U.S. consulate to enable the spouse and children to be able to apply for a TD visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder. To apply for a visa, please see the requirements as shown below.
Citizens of Canada may apply for a TN at 3 distinct locations:
- At a U.S. Class A port-of-entry (“POE”);
- At a U.S. pre-clearance / pre-flight station (“PFI”); or
- an international U.S. Airport (arrivals only). 8 C.F.R. § 100.4 (a).
Applying for a TN Visa at a U.S. border by a Canadian Citizen-
A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry by presenting all of the following:
- Request for admission under TN status to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer;
- Employment Letter – Evidence of professional employment (See Employment Letter below);
- Proof of professional qualifications, such as transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and/or records of previous employment;
- Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements;
- Proof of Canadian citizenship- Canadian citizens may present a passport, as visas are not required, or they may provide secondary evidence, such as a birth certificate. However, Canadian citizens traveling to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid passport at the port-of-entry;
- Payment of the appropriate fee;
- These applications are adjudicated on the spot by USCBP officers.
- If an individual plan to submit his or her TN application at an airport, that person must apply the same day as his/her flight.
- Depending on the particular rules of the port-of-entry, an individual who applies for a TN at a land POE may travel back into Canada the same day after approval of the TN. Caution should be exercised since each POE has its own rules regarding this issue.
- Additionally, how far in advance of the start date an individual may file for a TN is often left open to the discretion of the inspecting CBP officer. It may be prudent to contact the POE in advance to determine any POE specific rules.
- USCIS announced in October 2012 that Canadian citizens could file a FORM I-129 petition by mail from outside of the U.S. in order to secure an initial TN.
- In addition to the main components of a TN application, individuals must also file FORM I-129 along with the FORM I-129 Free Trade Supplement.
- The FORM I-129 with supporting documents is then filed with USCIS at the Vermont Service Center (as of oct. 3, 2014).
- For an additional filing fee, an individual can apply for premium processing of the FORM I-129 petition, and receive a decision on the petition within 15 calendar days.
- Individuals can check the status of their petition at any time at the USCIS website by entering their receipt number where indicated. Applicants can also sign up through the USCIS website to receive email updates on the status of the petition.
Requirements for Mexican Citizens
Before applying for admission to the U.S. at a designated POE, a citizen of Mexico must first file for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 8 CFR 214.6 (d) (1). As of January 1, 2004, the procedures were simplified for Mexicans by removing the requirement for petition approval and for the filing of a labor condition application. However, Mexicans are no longer subject to a numerical limitation for certain professionals wishing to be employed in the U.S. However, Mexican citizens still require a visa to request admission to the United States with the TN.
Mexican Citizens – Applying for a TN Visa – Required Documentation
Mexican citizens may apply at consular sections around the world for a NAFTA professional (TN) visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for most visa applicants. Interviews are generally by appointment only. As part of the visa interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan can generally be expected. The waiting time for an interview appointment for most applicants is a few weeks or less, but for some embassy consular sections the wait time can be considerably longer. Visit the Embassy Consular Section website where you will apply for your visa to find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other post instructions. Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit the following forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160; complete and print to bring and present at the interview.
- Application fee payment receipt
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
- Upload a photograph while completing the online DS-160. See the required photo format in Photograph Requirements in www.travel.state.gov. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico.
- Contractor letter of employment in the United States (see below)
The employer in the U.S. must provide to the applicant a “Letter of Employment” in the United States. The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1.
The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer or USCIS officer or USCBP officer of the plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity (ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted. An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:
- Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged;
- Purpose of entry;
- Anticipated length of stay;
- Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
- Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and
- Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.
Additional Documentation or Qualifying Requirements
Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as a NAFTA Professional for TN visa under U.S. law by presenting the following:
- Education Requirement- The applicant’s employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in the NAFTA agreement, chapter 16 appendix 1603.d.1. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credential’s evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
- Work Experience Requirement – A document proving the applicant’s experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.
Is Licensure Required?
The requirements for a NAFTA professional to qualify for TN do not include stateside licensure. Licensure to practice a given profession in the United States is a post-entry requirement subject to enforcement by the appropriate state or other sub-federal authority.
Spouses and Children
Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join the NAFTA Professional (TN visa holders) may receive a derivative TD visa. Applicants must demonstrate the existence of a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada in order to qualify for the TD visa. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S while in the possession of the TD status but are permitted to study.
Mexican citizen spouses and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas at a U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate.
Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas, but they must have the following documents at the port of entry:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- Proof of relationship to the principal applicant, such as marriage certificate and birth certificate; and
- Photocopies of entry documents of the principal applicant.
If the spouse and children are not Canadian citizens, they must obtain a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate. The U.S. embassy or consulate that serves their area of residence will provide the local rules and information on TD visa applications for such spouses and minor children.
Spouses or children following to join must present a valid I-94 of the TN family member, thereby providing proof that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining his/her TN visa status in the U.S.
- Border Applications – Canadians Only: $56.00 at land port-of-entries; $50.00 at pre-flight inspection offices (as of 10/3/2014).
- U.S. Embassy / Consulate – Mexicans Only: $160.00 (as of 01/01/2020).
- I-129 petitions: $460.00 (as of 01/01/2020).
- I-129 petition premium processing (if needed): $1,410.00 (as of 01/01/2020).
About the NAFTA Professional Job Series List
For a complete list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials, see NAFTA’s website. With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, an alternative criterion to a bachelor’s degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.
- No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore, final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
- Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
The following professions are covered by Appendix 1603.D.1 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. For more information on obtaining a TN Visa, please consult the relevant section of this website.
Source: U.S. Department of State with modifications by Adan G. Vega.
CONTACT A BOARD-CERTIFIED IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AT ADAN G. VEGA & ASSOCIATES, PLLC
We represent clients worldwide and offer consultations with an experienced Board-Certified immigration lawyer, either by telephone or at our Houston office. To schedule an appointment to talk privately with one of our experienced attorneys, call (713) 527-9606 or contact us online.