TN NAFTA Visas/Status for Citizens of Canada & Mexico

Samples of Approved Initial TN NAFTA Status (I-94 at Border) and
TN NAFTA Extension (through USCIS) by the JQK Law Firm


What is a TN NAFTA Visa or TN NAFTA Status?

This Immigration Status is based on an Agreement between the U.S., Mexican and Canadian Governments. The TN Classification is for Canadian (TN1) and Mexican (TN2) Citizens that will do professional assignments in the United States.  The professional work is limited to the work approved in the initial application. Dependents of the Primary TN Applicant (“TD”) may also enter the U.S.

What Professional Occupations are  Permitted to Use the TN NAFTA Designation and What are their Required Educational, Licensing, and/0r Experience Requirements?

The list of Professional TN NAFTA Occupations and their requirements are provided in Appendix 1603.D.1 to Annex 1603 of NAFTA. A copy of this information is provided here: Appendix 1603.D.1  

How Long Can I Have TN Status?

TN Status can be approved for up to 3 years (upon request and approval of that amount) for initial requests and extensions. There no technical limits to the extensions of that status.

Requirements for TN Status:

1) The Applicant must be a Canadian or Mexican Citizen. A birth certificate is required for Canadians at a minimum. If they entering the U.S. from the Western Hemisphere, a Passport is not required. Mexican Citizens must have a passport. Passport should have at least 6 months.

2) An employer letter from an existing business in the U.S. describing the offer of employment (please see below for more information about the Employer Letter). A worksite is required. Proof of the existence and operation of the U.S. business will be helpful. Self-Employment is not allowed. However, party-time employment is allowed.

3) Documentation and Evidence of the necessary Education, Experience and/or licensing required for the U.S. employment. A resume and letters of experience are helpful.

4) Evidence of intent to only stay in the U.S. temporarily. Dual Intent (having permanent residency in the U.S.) is not permitted.

Process for Obtaining TN Status:

1) Through the Embassy/Consulate (State Department): Complete the State Department Form DS-160 online and subsequently schedule an interview with the Consulate to present the required evidence for TN Status. If approved, a TN Visa stamp will be issued on the Applicant’s Passport. Fee: $160 for Form DS-160.

2) Within the U.S. (USCIS): If the TN Applicant is in the U.S., they can make a Change of Status request to TN Status by filing USCIS Form I-129 with the required documentation to USCIS. If approved, an updated I-94 will be issued to the TN Applicant. Fees: $324.00 for Form I-129, and optional (but recommended) $1,225.00 for Form I-907 Premium Processing.

3) Through a Designated Pre-Clearance/Border Inspection Point: Canadians can quickly and inexpensively attend an unscheduled meeting with a CBP Officer at designated Pre-Clearance locations at the border between Canada and the U.S. for review of the TN Application Package by a CBP Officer. The Officer can issue a TN1 I-94 if the Application is approved. Fees: $50.00 review fee and $6.00 I-94 Fee.

Mexican TN2 Applicants can file extension requests through border inspection point. However, this must be done before the previous TN Non-immigrant Visa has expired.

Note: Previous denials of TN Applications should be revealed in subsequent Applications.

Can a TN Applicant’s Spouse and Children Get TN Status too? Can They Work or Attend School in the U.S.?

The Spouse and Children of TN Applicant’s can obtain U.S. Non-Immigrant Status in the same processing methods that the Primary TN Applicant can (after the initial TN status is granted). Their status is called “TD.” This includes lawfully married spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. The TD holder cannot work in the U.S. but can attend school. TD applicants filing in the U.S. must file Form I-539 (Application of Extension of Status) with the Primary TN Applicant’s Form I-129 for extensions of status in the U.S.

​What is the Employer Letter? What Does it Require?

The letter from the prospective U.S. employer must contain the following information about the proposed employment position: 1) Wage and benefits, 2) Details of the proposed work duties and need that match the Applicant’s background requirements, 3) Anticipated length of Stay of the Applicant, 4) The educational, experience and/or licensing/credential requirements for the position, 5) Connect these requirements and need with the Applicant and his/her background and 5) potentially evidence of compliance with U.S. regulations. The letter should be written on the employer’s letterhead with all contact information, and be signed by the key person in the company.

What is the Professional Evidence that is Required?

A TN Applicant must provide professional evidence based on the requirements listed for that Profession.This can include:

1) Education: various levels of required education (bachelors or more) may be required for a TN approved Profession. The Applicant must be able to provide proof of obtaining that degree. If the degree was obtained from a foreign school (outside of the U.S., Canada or Mexico) a credential evaluation will be necessary.

2) Experience: some Professions will allow proof of experience in addition or instead of a degree. In such cases, proof of that experience can be provided through letters from former employers, tax filings, employer records, business documentation and any other evidence to show the experience for the required amount of time.

3) Licensing: some Professions require proof of licensure for that activity.

Consult the Appendix 1603.D.1 for a list of all permitted Professions and their requirements.

How Can I request an Extension?

Extensions of TN Status can be done while in the U.S. through Form I-129. Dependents (TD) should file for I-539 along with the TN Applicant’s application. The Extension request should include the basic evidentiary requirements, as well as proof that the wages declared in the initial application were paid. The extension can be made up to 6 months before expiration of the previous TN status. If the Application is still pending after the TN status expires, the Applicant can remain and work in the U.S. for up to an additional 240 days.

Note that the application will be deemed abandoned if the Applicant leaves before adjudication of the case. Also, approved Extensions for Mexican TN2 holders will still require a Visa to reenter the U.S.

Special Professional Category: TN Management Consultants

One of the most difficult TN Professional Categories to obtain is for a Management Consultants. This is because this category allows for experience only. Moreover, the job title and description can be more vague compared to other categories. That has resulted in cases of fraud and misuse. As such government officers reviewing these cases put an extra level of scrutiny upon such requests. It is important to note that best practices for Management Consultants is to be hired as Independent Contractors and not W-2 Employees of the U.S. Company.

Where Can You Find the TN NAFTA Regulation?

8 CFR Section 214.6

Please consult the appropriate government website and an Immigration Attorney for the most recent information and proper guidance as to your specific case

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