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The TN for Professionals

The TN for Professionals

(Excerpted from the U.S. Dept. of State)

NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement.  The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the United States.  Canadian and Mexican Permanent Residents are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional. 

Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. with a TN if they are:

  • A citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Their profession is on the NAFTA list;
  • The offered position in the U.S. requires a professional;
  • The applicant is to work in a full-time or part-time job for a U.S. employer; and
  • The Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession.

The requirements for applying for citizens of Canada and Mexico, shown below, are different. All TN applicants, as nonimmigrants, must demonstrate that their stay in the USA will be a temporary period that has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence

Canadian citizens usually can apply for a TN at a U.S. port of entry with all of the following:

Request for admission under TN status to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration officer;

  • Employment Letter – Evidence of professional employment.;
  • Proof of professional qualifications, such as transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and/or records of previous employment;
  • Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements;
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship- Canadian citizens may present a passport, as visas are not required, or they may provide secondary evidence, such as a birth certificate. Canadian citizens traveling to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid passport at the port-of-entry;
  • Fee of U.S. $50

As of January 1, 2004 the procedures were simplified for Mexicans by removing the requirement for petition approval and for filing of a labor condition application. Mexicans are no longer subject to numerical limitation for these professionals. Mexican citizens still require a visa to request admission to the United States.  They may apply at consular sections around the world for a TN professional visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section (generally by appointment only) is required for most visa applicants. The waiting time for an interview appointment for most applicants is a few weeks or less, but for some embassy consular sections it can be considerably longer.  Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:

  • An application, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed and signed.
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 provides additional information about your travel plans. Submission of this completed form is required for all male applicants between 16-45 years of age.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States.
  • One (1) 2×2 photograph. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico.
  • Letter of employment in the United States.

The employer in the U.S. must provide to the applicant a Letter of Employment in the United States. The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity. An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:

  • Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged;
  • Purpose of entry;
  • Anticipated length of stay;
  • Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
  • Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and
  • Arrangements for pay.

Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.

Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as a TN Professional:

  • Education Requirement- The applicant’s employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in the NAFTA agreement. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
  • Work Experience Requirement – Document proving to the applicant’s experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.

Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join TN Professionals may receive a derivative “TD” visa. Applicants must demonstrate the spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S.  They are permitted to study.

Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas. They must have the following documents at the port of entry:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • Proof of relationship to the principal applicant, such as marriage certificate and birth certificate; and
  • Photocopies of entry documents of the principal applicant.

If the spouse and children are not Canadian citizens, they must get a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate.  They must contact the U.S. embassy or consulate that serves their area for information on how to make visa applications. Mexican citizen spouses and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

The maximum period of admission with a TN is up to three years.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants extensions of stay in time amounts of up to three years.  There is no limit on the number of years a TN visa holder can stay in the United States, however, the TN visa status is not for permanent residence and a home residence outside the USA must be maintained. 

Canadian or Mexican citizens admitted as a NAFTA Professional may seek an extension of stay, which may be granted up to three years:

  • If the applicant is in the U.S., employer may file Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Nebraska Service Center; or
  • Applicant may apply at a port of entry using the same application and documentation procedures above as required for the initial entry.

About the Professional Job Series List

Shown below is job series list by profession, with Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials. With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, alternative criteria to a bachelor’s degree are listed.  For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.

NAFTA Professional Job Series List


Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A, C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.


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


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license


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 Quebec)

L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., or Licenciatura degree (five years’’); or membership in a state/provincial bar


M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree was 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

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

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

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



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


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or post secondary diploma or post secondary certificate, and three years’ experience


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Occupational Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state provincial license


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


State/provincial license; or Licenciatura degree

Recreational Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Registered Nurse

State/provincial license or Licenciatura degree


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


Agricultural (Agronomist)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Breeder

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Dairy Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


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


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree



Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree


Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Additional Information

  • No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance.
  • Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

Entering the U.S. – Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port-of-entry in the United States, such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing, and request permission to enter the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration inspector will permit or deny admission to the United States, and determine your length of stay in the U.S., on any particular visit. The immigration official validates form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted. Form I-94, which documents your authorized stay in the U.S., is very important to keep in your passport.  Additionally, a Mexican citizen seeking entry as a TN professional must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Immigration Officer of plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer or entity at a professional level.

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