NAFTA Professionals and TN Visas

Canadian and Mexican citizens may be eligible to enter the United States as a NAFTA professional to work temporarily in the United States if they meet the following requirements:

  1. They are a Canadian or Mexican citizen (not a permanent resident);
  2. The profession in which they intend to work is on the NAFTA list, which includes, but is not limited to, professions such as accounting, teaching, and pharmacy (visit https://www.nafsa.org/_/file/_/amresource/8cfr2146.htm for the full list);
  3. The position in the United States in which they intend to work requires a NAFTA professional;
  4. They will be working in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for an employer (self-employment is not permissible); and
  5. They have the qualifications required for the profession, including the education, experience, and other specific requirements of the profession.

Most NAFTA professions require at least a Bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions (minimum requirements for each profession, including degree requirements, can be found at https://www.nafsa.org/_/file/_/amresource/8cfr2146.htm ). If a particular degree is required for a profession, then experience cannot be substituted for that degree. If granted, a TN visa (or TN status) is valid for 3 years and can be renewed indefinitely in 3 year increments. 

The process for Canadian citizens varies a bit from that for Mexican citizens. Canadian citizens generally do not require a TN visa, but will be required to obtain TN status in order to enter the United States as a NAFTA professional, although they may request the issuance of a TN visa. The only category of Canadians seeking TN status who must obtain a TN visa are Canadians who live in a third country with a non-Canadian spouse and/or children (spouses and children are then eligible for “TD” visas). Canadian citizens who choose not to obtain a visa ahead of time should apply for TN status at a U.S. port of entry.

Mexican citizens must apply for, and be granted, a TN visa prior to entering the United States as a NAFTA professional. Most Mexican citizens who apply for a TN visa will also need to attend an interview at a United States embassy or consulate prior to being granted a TN visa.

If you are interested in learning more about the TN process, please contact Tanner Law Offices at 717-731-8114 to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.