TN Professionals from Canada & Mexico

What is a TN Visa: Complete Guide

TN Visa allows qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter the US to perform services in professions on the NAFTA list.  An important difference between the TN procedure for the citizens of Canada and Mexico is that while Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa to work as a TN professional (though one can be issued upon request) a Mexican citizen on the other hand requires a visa to request admission to the US.  A TN beneficiary may be admitted in TN status initially for up to a maximum period of stay of three years but can receive unlimited extensions of stay in increments of three years at a time.

TN Procedure & Requirements

  • The foreign national must be a Citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • The profession in which the TN beneficiary wants to work in qualifies under the NAFTA regulations;
  • The position in the United States requires a TN professional;
  • The foreign national has the qualification to practice the profession;
  • TN applicant may apply at US Embassy/Consulate around the world for a TN visa.
  • Applicant must show their intended stay is temporary, without the intent to establish permanent residency.

Related Issues

  • Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not eligible for TN status;
  • TN beneficiary can work in a full-time or part-time job though self-employment is not permitted;
  • Professional licensure to practice a given profession in the U.S. is a post-entry requirement;
  • Spouses and unmarried child/ren below the age of 21 are allowed to accompany/follow to join the TN applicant in TD status, however they are not allowed to work in the United States unless they qualify for a work visa;
  • Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need a visa.  Spouses and children that are not Canadian citizens must get a TN nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

TN Professionals from Canada & Mexico: Questions & Answer

A TN is a nonimmigrant work visa that allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the United States in certain professional occupations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is now known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement.

The distinction between a TN-1 and TN-2 visa is how the United States distinguishes between Canadian and Mexican citizens. The "TN-1" classification is assigned to Canadian citizens who qualify for the TN visa, whereas the "TN-2" classification is assigned to Mexican citizens. The only significant distinction between these two classes is that Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a US consulate before entering the US, whereas Canadian citizens can obtain TN status at the port of entry.

To qualify for a TN visa, the beneficiary must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
  • The position the beneficiary is planning to fill must be listed on the NAFTA list.
  • Beneficiary must have a job offer from a US employer that requires a NAFTA professional.
  • Beneficiary must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field related to the position.

General bachelor’s degree may not qualify for TN. It is important for the job to require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized field and for you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field related to the job.

While having a bachelor's degree is a requirement for the TN visa, persons without a 4-year bachelor's degree may be able to get by with job experience instead. Three years of specialized work experience is typically equivalent to one year of formal education. Therefore, you may still be eligible for TN status despite not having a formal bachelor's degree.

For over 22 years, we've been tackling intricate issues such as these and are fully prepared to assess your qualifications to navigate you through the process. Our team will rigorously analyze your individual case, drawing links between your targeted coursework and professional experience. Utilizing this methodology, we might be able to obtain an experiential evaluation that aligns your educational background and work history—or just your education—with a degree that is closely related to the specialty occupation in question.


  • Accountant.
  • Architect.
  • Computer Systems Analyst.
  • Insurance claims adjuster.
  • Economist.
  • Engineer.
  • Forester.
  • Graphic Designer.
  • Hotel Manager.
  • Industrial Designer.
  • Interior Designer.
  • Land Surveyor.
  • Landscape Architect.
  • Lawyer.
  • Librarian.
  • Management Consultant.
  • Mathematician (including Statistician).
  • Range Manager/Range Conservationist.
  • Research Assistant.
  • Scientific Technician/Technologist.
  • Social Worker.
  • Silviculturist (including forestry).
  • Technical Publication Writer.
  • Urban Planner (including Geographer).
  • Vocational Counselor.

Medical and Health Care Professionals:

  • Dentist.
  • Dietician.
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist.
  • Nutritionist.
  • Occupational Therapist.
  • Pharmacist.
  • Physician (teaching or research only).
  • Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist.
  • Psychologist.
  • Recreational Therapist.
  • Registered Nurse.
  • Veterinarian


  • Agricultural. 
  • Animal Breeder.
  • Animal Scientist.
  • Apiculturist.
  • Astronomer.
  • Biochemist.
  • Chemist.
  • Dairy Scientist.
  • Entomologist.
  • Epidemiologist. 
  • Geneticist.
  • Geochemist.
  • Geophysicist.
  • Horticulturist.
  • Meteorologist.
  • Pharmacologist.
  • Physicist.
  • Plant Breeder.
  • Poultry Scientist.
  • Soil Scientist.
  • Zoologist.


  • College.
  • Seminary.
  • University.

A foreign national may hold TN status for up to three years and is indefinitely renewable.

Unlike H-1B, there is no quota or annual limit to the number of ‘new’ TN that can be issued each year.

Yes, purchasing a house is possible on an TN status.

You are not permitted to work as an independent contractor in TN status, often referred to as a 1099 worker. A bona fide employer-employee relationship, typically evidenced by a W-2 form, must exist between you and your TN sponsoring employer.

You are not permitted to freelance on an TN status. A bona-fide employer-employee relationship, typically evidenced by a W-2 form, must exist between you and your TN sponsoring employer.

Yes, you are eligible to work part-time while on an TN status.

Unlike H-1B visa, there is no minimum salary requirement for TN visa.

Yes, you can change your status to TN status while being present in the US. In order for you to change your status to TN your prospective employer will need to fill out the required form(s), gather the required documents proving that you have meet all of the qualification requirements, and pay the necessary filing fees to the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

Your spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 can apply for TD status to join you in the U.S. If you spouse and/or children are Canadian citizens, they do not need a visa before their entry into the United States however non-Canadian spouse and/or children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consulate before entering the United States.

TN dependent spouses and children may attend school in the United States. It is essential to note, however, that while they hold TN status, they will not be eligible for employment benefits typically associated with F-1student status, such as post-completion Optional Practical Training. In addition, TN minors enrolled in U.S. universities who reach the age of 21 must switch to an F-1 visa to continue their studies.

Yes, you can attend school while on an TN visa, as long as the primary purpose of your stay in the U.S. on an TN visa is to remain employed with the sponsoring company.

Yes, it is possible to work for multiple employers while on TN status provided each additional employer has applied for TN status on your behalf.

For filing a change of status or extension of stay in the US, USCIS charges a base filing fee of $460.

The time it takes for USCIS to approve an TN petition can vary significantly depending on several factors. One crucial factor is existing backlogs at USCIS service center where the TN petition is filed at.

Ideally the approval process for an TN petition can take anywhere from 4 to 8 months. However, employers do have the option to expedite the adjudication by requesting premium processing, which generally results in a decision within 10-15 calendar days, although this comes with an additional USCIS fee of $2,500.

TN-1 and TN-2 visa holders who are currently in the U.S. may apply for their extensions as earlier as 6 months (180 days) before it expires.

TD dependent(s) can concurrently apply for their extensions along with the principal TN applicant(s) petition. TD applicant(s) status is determined by the main TN applicant holder. This means that they can only apply for their TD extensions concurrently with the TN applicant (this route is highly recommended), once the primary TN applicant(s) petition has been approved, or once the primary TN applicant(s) petition has been issued a receipt notice from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Unfortunately, your TD dependent(s) cannot work while they are in the United States. However, they are permitted to study for the duration of your valid TN status.

Yes, you can change your employer while on TN status here in the United States. Your new employer will just need to file an amended petition for you and have it approved prior to you being able to engage in any legal work with them. However, Canadian citizens do have the option to take the new employer package to the border requesting that they validate their TN status with the new employer. This process differs from H-1B holders where they do have the portability option to start their employment with their new employer upon receipt of the filed I-129 petition.

No, only citizens of Canada or Mexico may enter the United States in the TN visa classification.

NAFTA list is very broad lacking precise definitions. It is not necessary for your title to be an exact match to the titles enumerated under NAFTA. In essence, by adopting the appropriate strategy, a diverse array of professional occupations in the United States might be eligible to obtain TN status.

An immigration lawyer can assist the prospective TN beneficiary and employer in preparing the strongest case possible for TN petition approval. In the majority of instances, an experienced immigration attorney may be able to determine beforehand whether the position and/or credentials qualify for an TN.

An immigration lawyer can assist the prospective TN beneficiary and employer in preparing the strongest case possible for TN petition approval. In the majority of instances, an experienced immigration attorney may be able to determine beforehand whether the position and/or credentials qualify for an TN.

Meet Attorney Asheesh Sharma – Your Trusted Advisor

With years of experience in employment-based immigration, Sharma Law Offices has a proven track record of successful cases. Our nuanced understanding of U.S. immigration laws ensures that your case is in capable hands.

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