Canada & U.S. TN Visa Guide

The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Americans, Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the other countries to engage in business activities at a professional level.

The TN Visa Under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) preserves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provisions. The USMCA took effect July 1, 2020. 

The Agreement lists out around 60 professions, that can avail of this visa. The position must be of the nature that it requires a TN professional.  The Applicant must prove that they possess the qualifications, meeting the specific requirements of education, and/or experience, of the profession. 

Sisu Legal helps potential applicants in the following situations: 

  • Canadian citizens applying for TN Visas in the United States
  • Mexican citizens applying for TN Visas in the United States
  • American citizens applying for TN Visas in Canada
  • Mexican citizens applying for TN Visas in Canada 

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Advantages of a TN Visa

  • There is no numerical limitations on the number of TN visas admitted into Canada or United States annually. 
  • It is not based on a lottery system like the H-1B visa, which is subject to an annual cap that continues to be exhausted every year. 
  • No labour condition application requirement 
  • It is relatively fast to obtain - one or two step application process 
  • It can be extended an unlimited number of times  
  • Not subject to a foreign-residence requirement

Disadvantages of a TN Visa

  • Nonimmigrant Visa - one must not have the intent to establish permanent residence.  
  • Not a "dual intent" visa - this means you cannot have non-immigrant and immigrant intent. Dual intent visas include the H-1 and L visa classifications. 
  • An application should include that the applicant's work assignment will end at a predictable time and that the individual will depart upon the completion of the assignment. 

Is self-employment allowed on a TN Visa?

The TN applicant must work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for an employer. TN visas are not issued for a self-employed professional.

A person who wishes to be self-employed in Canada or United States should consider making an application under another category such as Trader or Investor visas. 

Who is eligible for a TN Visa?

You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if: 

  • You are a citizen of United States, Canada or Mexico;
  • Your profession qualifies under the regulations;
  • The position in the United States, Canada or Mexico requires a NAFTA professional;
  • You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S., Canada, or Mexico employer (but not self-employment - see documentation required below); and
  • You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
  • Compliance with existing immigration requirements for temporary entry. 

TN Application Process

The TN Visa Application Package Includes: 

Proof of Citizenship 

TN Support Letter

Proof of educational qualifications or alternative credentials required for the position 

Credential evaluation, if applicable

Proof of licensing, if applicable 

Proof of previous experience, if applicable  

Confirmation of pre-arranged employment, including: 

  • A signed contract
  • Offer of employment 
  • A letter of support from your employer

The employer documentation should include:

  • The name of the employer 
  • Employer information 
  • The profession for which entry is sought 
  • Details of the position

In addition, the following is required:

  • VisaScreen Certificate for certain allied health care occupations 
  • Application fees
  • Approval Notice, if previous application at visa office 

If applying with family members, they must have: 

  • A valid and unexpired passport 
  • proof of relationship (for example, marriage certificate or birth certificate)

What happens after the TN Visa Application?

  • If you pre-applied for a TN visa at consulate and obtained a stamp, you may travel to the U.S. or Canada and apply for admission. 
  • If you are applying at the Port of Entry, the border officer will examine your application package at that time. 
  • When you arrive at a port of entry to the United States or to Canada, the border officer will examine you to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements and that you are not inadmissible. 
  • A decision will be made on whether you may be admitted under lawful non-immigrant status. 
  • The border officer will provide you with the required documentation that includes the date and place of admission, the non-immigrant classification, and the authorized period of stay. 
  • After securing TN status, you are eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN)
  • You may need to apply for a driver's license 
  • You must report any change of address to USCIS, within 10 days of relocating

TN Visa Interview

Topics for the interview may include: 

  • Travel History 
  • Prior visas held 
  • Previous U.S. employment 
  • Background 
  • immigration violations or arrests 
  • Merits of TN visa application 

Canadian and American TN Visas

  • Canadian and American citizens do not generally require visas to apply for admission to each other's country. Under the streamlined provisions of NAFTA, Canadian and American citizens do not need to file an application or petition in advance before applying for admission to the U.S. or Canada as a TN professional worker. 
  • Canadian and American citizens may apply for admission to the other country under TN status at the border or at an international airport. 
  • Mexican citizens are typically required to file for an application at a consulate or visa office before applying for admission under TN status

Educational Qualifications

Most TN visa occupations require some form of education such as a bachelor's degree or a post-secondary diploma plus work experience. The education should be in the field or closely related field to the profession for which the applicant is seeking admission for. 

Unlike the H1-B category, an applicant for a TN cannot combine education and experience and obtain a degree equivalency in order to meet the bachelor degree requirement for a TN. Thus, if a bachelor's degree is required, experience cannot be substituted for the degree. 

Where can a professional apply for a TN Visa?

  • Port of Entry 
  • Visa office abroad

Dependents of TN Nonimmigrants - TD Nonimmigrant Status 

Spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for TD nonimmigrant status. Spouses and children are:

  • Not permitted to work, but they are permitted to study. 
  • Granted TD status for no longer than the period of time granted to the principal TN nonimmigrant.

Initial Period of Stay

  • Generally, one (1) to three (3) years 

Can a TN Visa be renewed? 

  • A TN Visa can be renewed an unlimited amount of times. There is no time "cap" on extensions.  Each time you renew you must continue to show you meet the same requirements. 
  • You must continue to show your temporary intention to remain in the country because a TN Visa is a non-immigrant visa.

What is the process to renew a TN Visa?

  • Apply for a different long-term visa if you have an immigrant intent 
  • Renew your TN Visa at a border at an authorized port-of-entry 
  • Renew your TN Visa by mail 

What are the Qualified Professions for a TN Visa?

The qualified professions list is found at Appendix 1603.D.1 and contain a list of over 60 occupations that qualify. 

Generally, if an occupation does not appear on the list, it is not a profession as defined by Appendix 1603.D.1. However, officers allow for alternative job titles in instances where the job duties are interchangeable based on the duties as listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) (Canada) or Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) (USA). 

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General Professionals

Accountant - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.

Architect - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license.

Computer Systems Analyst - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate and three years' experience.

Disaster relief insurance claims adjuster - (claims adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims.

Economist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Engineer - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license.

Forester - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license.

Graphic designer - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma and three years experience.

Hotel manager - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree in hotel/restaurant management; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate in hotel/restaurant management and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management.

Industrial designer - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience.

Interior designer - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience.

Land surveyor - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree or state/provincial/federal license.

Landscape Architect - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Lawyer (including Notary in the province of Québec)
L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., or Licenciatura degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar.

Librarian - M.L.S., or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree was a prerequisite).

Management consultant - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement. Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Mathematician - (including statistician) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Range manager/ Range conservationist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Research assistant - (working in a post-secondary educational institution)
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Scientific technician/ technologist

- a theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and

- the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research.

Social worker - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Sylviculturist - (including forestry specialist) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Teacher / College or University - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Teacher / Seminary - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Technical publications writer - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree, or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience.

Urban planner (including geographer) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Vocational counselor - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree

Medical / Allied Professionals

Dentist - D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental or state/provincial license.

Dietitian - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license.

Medical laboratory technologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post secondary certificate, and three years experience.

Nutritionist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Occupational therapist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license.

Pharmacist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license.

Physician (teaching or research only) M.D., Doctor en Medicina: or state/provincial license.

Physiotherapist/ physical therapist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license.

Psychologist - State/provincial license; or Licenciatura degree.

Recreational therapist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Registered nurse - State/provincial license or Licenciatura degree.

Veterinarian - D.V.M., D.M.V., or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license.

Scientist Professionals

Agriculturist  - (agronomist) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Animal breeder - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Animal scientist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Apiculturist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Astronomer - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Biochemist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Biologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Chemist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Dairy scientist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Entomologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Epidemiologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree. 

Geneticist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Geochemist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Geologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Geophysicist - (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Horticulturist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Meteorologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Pharmacologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Physicist - (including Oceanographer in Canada) Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Plant Breeder - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Poultry scientist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Soil scientist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.

Zoologist - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree.