The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico and TN professional work visa . NAFTA's successor, Agreement between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA) continues this visa program.
The reciprocal 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. The Appendix 2, Section D, Annex 16-A of the Chapter 16 of the USMCA lists the professions eligible for TN work visa.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, architects, computer systems analyst, economists, engineers, lawyers, management consultants, mathematicians, pharmacists, scientists, statisticians, social workers, teachers, and many other professions listed on USMCA list. You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:
- You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Your profession is on the NAFTA/ USMCA list;
- The position in the United States requires a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials to practice the profession;
- You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment);
- You are seeking temporary entry without the intent to establish permanent residence. A temporary period has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.
- You have the baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials to practice in the profession in question.
If you are a Canadian citizen, then you are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate. You may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time you seek admission to the United States by presenting required documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.
Alternatively, a prospective TN employer may choose to file on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is outside the United States by submitting Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS. Premium Processing Service is available.
If USCIS approves Form I-129, you, the prospective worker, may then apply to CBP for admission to the United States as a TN nonimmigrant by providing the following documentation to a CBP Officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship; and
- Approval Notice from USCIS for Form I-129.
In addition, when applying for admission, you should have in your possession a copy of the Form I-129, and all supporting documentation that was submitted to USCIS, to respond to questions about your eligibility. You should also be prepared to pay any applicable inspection fees at the time you seek admission. If a CBP officer finds you eligible for admission, you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant.
Period of Stay/Extension of Stay
If you wish to remain in the United States beyond your initial period of stay (which could be up to 3 years) without first departing from the United States, you must seek an extension of stay. If you are in the United States, your employer may file Form I-129 on your behalf. Once the TN visa petition is approved by the government then you can start working with the new employer.
Alternatively, you may depart from the United States before the date your status expires, and then, once abroad, you may apply at a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station using the same application and documentation procedures required at the time of your initial application for admission as a TN nonimmigrant.
Dependents of TN Nonimmigrants
Any accompanying or “following to join” spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for TD nonimmigrant status. Spouses and children are:
- Not permitted to work while in the United States, but they are permitted to study.
- Granted TD status for no longer than the period of time granted to the principal TN nonimmigrant.
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