Everything You Need to Know about TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican Citizens


TN visa, which refers to Trade NAFTA visa, is available for professionals in Canada, Mexico or U.S. to work in either of the other two countries. It is a special non-immigrant visa which came into existence under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed by the three countries to improve trade and economic relationships. When comparing TN visa vs. H1B visa, another popular non-immigrant visa to work in U.S., one would find differences like:

  • While an annual cap of 85,000 exists for H1B visa, there is no such cap restriction in case of TN visa
  • TN visa application cost is much lower than that of H1B visa
  • TN status extension is possible an indefinite number of times while H1B can be extended to 6 years only.

If you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen willing to work in U.S., here’s a useful guide about TN visa.

Additional Information – TN Visa Attorney in Orange County

TN Visa Requirements

In order to qualify for TN visa, the beneficiary:

  • Be a Canadian or Mexican citizen

  • Qualify for a NAFTA-listed TN visa professions or occupations (see the next section)

  • Have a part or full-time job offer from a U.S. employer

  • Meet requirements related to educational qualification and experience

In addition, the employer must provide evidence that the job in question requires a NAFTA professional.

Also note the following requirements that are applicable in some cases:

  • A beneficiary with non-U.S. degree must get his or her degree’s acceptability in the U.S. verified
  • Letter from previous/past employers might be required as proof for experience
  • Certification requirements are necessary to be fulfilled for the healthcare professionals like registered nurses, medical technologists, physical therapists and others.

TN Visa Professions List

Here’s a list of occupations recognized by NAFTA for TN visa:

  • General:

    Accountant, architect, computer system analyst, disaster relief insurance claim adjuster, economist, engineer, forester, graphic designer, hotel manager, industrial designer, interior designer, land surveyor, landscape architect, lawyer, librarian, management consultant, mathematician, range manager, research assistant, scientific technician, social worker, sylviculturist, technical publications writer, urban planner and vocational counselor

  • Medical Professional:

    Dentist,dietician, medical laboratory technologist, nutritionist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, physician, pharmacist, psychologist, recreational therapist, registered nurse andveterinarian

  • Scientist:

    Agriculturist, animal breeder, animal scientist, apiculturist, astronomer, biochemist, biologist, chemist, dairy scientist, entomologist,epidemiologist, geneticist, geologist, geochemist, geophysicist, horticulturist, meteorologist, pharmacologist, physicists, plant breeder, poultry scientist, soil scientist and zoologist

  • Teaching: College, seminary and university

TN Visa Time frame

TN visa is initially granted for the maximum of 3 years. The TN visa holders must immediately leave U.S. as soon as the visa expires (unlike H1B visa, in which agrace period is offered). However, TN visa renewal or extension is possible (in the increments of 3 years) and can be done an indefinite number of times.

For TN visa extension, there are two options:

  • The employer fills the Form I-129 and submits it along with extension letter (similar to the initial job offer letter) and beneficiary’s citizenship and educations proofs.
  • The original process of applying for TN visa (described in the next section) is repeated. For this, the Mexican citizens would need to visit a U.S. consulate, while the Canadian citizens would be required to leave and re-enter U.S.

TN Visa Process

For Mexican Citizens: A Mexican citizen must obtain a TN-2 visa from a U.S. consulate before leaving for U.S. The application process is as follows:

  • Fill Form DS-160 online and print the application form

  • Pay TN visa feeof $160

  • Schedule the visa interview

  • Prepare all important documents including Form DS-160, valid passport, photograph, fee receipt, job letter from a U.S. employer, education/experience certificates

  • Appear for the visa interview

For Canadian Citizens: Unlike Mexican citizens, Canadian citizens can obtain TN-1 visa right at a U.S. port of entry ora pre-flight/pre-clearance station. The following documents would be required:

  • Canadian citizenship proof

  • Job letter from a U.S. employer

  • Education/experience certificates

Canadian citizens need to pay the TN visa fee of $56 ($50 if travelling by air)

An alternative to the above procedures is applying for TN status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It must be done by the employer by filling Form I-129 and paying the fee of $460.

TN Visa Processing Time

  • Mexican citizens applying for TN visa with a U.S. consulate or embassy may expect visa approval within 7-10 days from the date of interview. The visa interview waiting time may, however, vary from one consulate to another.
  • Canadian citizens applying for TN visa at the port of entry or pre-clearance/pre-flight station can expect visa approval on the same day.
  • If applied with USCIS, TN visa processing may take up to 6 months. However, premium processing option is available that would reduce the processing time to 15 calendar days. The additional fee of $1,410 must be paid for TN visa premium processing.

Common reasons for TN visa denial include indicating the wrong occupation and insufficient documentation. Take guidance from a TN visa immigration lawyer to improve the approval chances.