Who can get a TN visa?

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.

Key requirements of the TN Visa

To qualify for TN status, the intended U.S. activity must be in a profession listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA, and the applicant must possess the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Appendix 1603.D.1 fields.

Merely citing the Appendix 1603.D.1 profession is insufficient; the alien must actually perform professional-level activities in the United States. With regard to jobs qualifications, a bachelor’s or higher degree is usually required, unless Appendix 1603.D.1 lists alternative qualifications. Equivalency to a required degree through a combination of experience and education will not be accepted for TN purposes.

Some occupations for which we have sought TN visas include accountants, engineers, registered nurses, architects, lawyers, university-level teachers and research assistants, urban planners, scientists, social workers, hotel managers, librarians, systems analysts, and management consultants.

What is the duration of the TN Visa?

An applicant for a TN visa may be admitted to the United States in TN status for the period of time required by the employer, up to a maximum initial period of stay of three years. TN professionals can receive extensions of stay in increments of up to three years, with no outside limit on the total period of stay. The limits on stay for H-1B (six years) and L nonimmigrants (five or seven years) do not apply to TN professionals.

In addition, Canadian and Mexican professionals who have already completed six years in the H-1B or L nonimmigrant category can immediately qualify for the TN category without fulfilling the requirement of one-year abroad imposed on H-1B and L immigrants. The only limitation on the duration of stay of TN nonimmigrants is that the purpose of the stay must continue to be temporary.

What about family members of TN visa holders?

The family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) of the principal TN visa holder are classified in the TD category. They cannot engage in employment unless they are independently qualified. Family members can undertake courses of study in the United States while remaining in TD status.

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