TN Visas Under NAFTA

For our San Francisco attorneys specializing in visas and immigration law issues, the visa process is not just a jumble of alphabet – tagged visas. It is an opportunity to create a tailor made immigration law solution for San Francisco, California and United States employers with operations or affiliated companies in Canada or Mexico.

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, created the TN visa which is a non-immigrant visa classification that our San Francisco immigration department uses to the great benefit of our clients. TN visa status is for Mexican and Canadian citizens engaged in activities at the professional level.

Additionally, the TN visa classification will generally cover a wider range of job categories while the H-1B visa is not job category specific. But it should also be noted that the TN status is more advantageous for Canadian citizens seeking entry than for Mexican citizens. Also, and as the firm’s San Francisco immigration law specialists are quick to point out, there is no numerical cap for the TN as there is for the H-1B.

Several TN visa requirements must be met in order for a professional from Mexico or Canada to work in a TN classification. They are as follows:

  • The applicant must actually be a citizen of Mexico or Canada.
  • NAFTA must show the profession (of the applicant) on its NAFTA listings.
  • A NAFTA professional is actually required for the position in the Unites States.
  • This is not for the self-employed Canadian or Mexican TN visa applicant must be scheduled to work as an employee in a part-time or full-time job, for a U.S. employer.
  • The petitioner actually has (now) the qualifications of the specific profession involved.

Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S. in TN status. A Canadian citizen may apply for TN status at a U.S. port of entry. A Canadian citizen who lives in another country with a non-Canadian spouse or family will need to apply for a visa. Such a “family member” visa, the TD visa, allows dependents to accompany or join the TN visa beneficiary.

Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a U.S. Consulate and this must happen before entering the U.S. After that, an interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy is required (almost always) for visa applicants who are 14 years old to 79 years of age. Children under 14, and persons over 80 years old typically don’t have an interview, unless specially requested by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Immigration and nationality law specialists in our San Francisco immigration law department have seen that appointment interview waiting times for TN Visa applicants is not predictable, so early application is required. Information on visa fees, processing times, appointment wait times and required documents are at

TN visa status does not recognize dual intent. Because of that the TN visa is, very importantly, different from H-1B visas and L-1 visa status. The TN visa applicant must demonstrate that his or her stay in the U.S. is definitely temporary, and that there is no plan or expectation to establish a long term permanent U.S. residence.