What Is A TN Visa, And Who Can Receive It?
The TN visa is available for Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If you are a national of Canada or Mexico, you may work in the United States under a TN visa if:
- your profession is on the NAFTA Occupations list;
- your work experience and credentials meet the specific requirements for that profession as listed on the NAFTA Occupations list;
- the prospective position requires someone in that professional capacity; and,
- you will be employed by a U.S. employer.
If you have a TN visa to work in the United States, your spouse and your unmarried, minor children are entitled to come to the United States in TD visa status, but they may not be employed in the United States in this status.
Under the TD visa status, your family members may attend school in the United States.
How To Apply
If you are a Canadian citizen:
- Canadians seeking a TN visa may apply at a U.S. port of entry. You must provide the following:
- A request for “TN” status;
- A copy of your college degree and employment records establishing your qualification for the prospective job;
- A letter from your prospective U.S.-based employer offering you a job in the United States, which is included on the professional job series (NAFTA list); and,
- Payment of the visa fee
If you are a Mexican citizen:
- Your prospective employer must file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor
- Your employer must file a I-129 Petition For Non-Immigrant Worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
- After the petition is approved, you then apply for the non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico;
- When you arrive to the Unites States after you have obtained your TN visa from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico, bring:
- The TN approval notice issued by USCIS
- the TN visa issued by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico;
- Valid Mexican passport valid (valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of the approval notice validity period
At the Port of Entry, the CBP border inspector will give you a Form I-94, Entry/Departure Document, marked with the date and place of admission, a notation of TN (with Multiple Entry for Canadian citizens) and an expiration date either 12 months away (for Canadian citizens), or matching the I-797 validity date (for Mexican citizens).
Can I change employers with a TN visa?
Yes, but your new employer must obtain an approval by the USCIS before you begin employment. Canadian citizens may submit a new TN application package showing the new employer at the border, as above-described.
Can I start work with a new employer once the TN petition is filed with the USCIS?
No, “portability” does not apply to people in TN visa status. An actual approval notice or new Form I-94 (for Canadians) must be issued by the USCIS.
What if I am laid off by my employer?
Just as with any other nonimmigrant work visa, you must depart the United States if you are not employed with the sponsoring employer. You may not stay indefinitely in TN visa status to locate other employment. You may be eligible to change your status to give you additional time in the United States to look for employment.
Length Of Stay And Extension
TN visas are valid for one year and may be extended for one year terms, but you must prove that you continue to maintain a foreign residence and do not intend to stay permanent in the United States.
Requirements for Canadians and Mexicans wishing to renew their “TN” status are not the same. Canadian citizens have two options. First, you may have your employer file an I-129 form at the Nebraska Service Center. This option does not require leaving the United States. Second, Canadians may return to Canada to re-apply at the port of entry with the same documentation that is required for an original application.
Mexican citizens must have the employer renew your labor condition application and file an I-129 with the Nebraska Service Center in order to extend your stay.
There is no limit on how many extensions you may obtain, but the longer you remain on a TN, the more likely it is that CBP at the port of entry will question your temporary intent and may deny you entry despite having an unexpired, multiple entry visa.