TN Visas

The North American Free Trade (NAFTA) created the TN Visa as a way to ease the path toward a visa for those working on a professional level in Canada and Mexico wanting to come to the United States. Canadians, through the TN, have a more direct and quick way to obtain a U.S. nonimmigrant visa than a traditional work visa like the H-1. For both Canadians and Mexicans, many of the basic visa requirements are the same. However, there are separations as well. (1)


First of all, you must consider if you are eligible or not. To be eligible for this type of visa, a Canadian or Mexican must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico, the eligible professions are listed on the NAFTA list; the position you are seeking in the United States must require a NAFTA professional, you must work in a full-time or part-time job, you must not be self-employed (accept for a management consultant position), and you must have certain educational qualifications or experience.

Some of the accepted professions off of the NAFTA list include an Architect, Computer Systems Analyst, Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster, Hotel Manager, Graphic Designer, Land Surveyor, Urban Planner, Medical Professionals, Pharmacists, Psychologists, Astronomers, Chemists, College Professor, and Physicist. Of course, there are many, many more of qualifying occupations with various requirements.

The Application Process

If you believe you will qualify for a TN Visa, you will have to understand a little more about the application process. Depending on where you apply for your Visa, the application process could vary a bit but mostly will remain the same. Here is usually what happens:

You will complete an online visa application form. If you are from Mexico, you must first complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, also known as the Form DS-160. After completing the application, you must print the form confirmation page to bring to your interview. If you are from Canada, your attorney will prepare a TN package for you to take to the airport or land port before entering the U.S. Sometimes, it may be preferable to apply while inside the U.S. This process require the submission of a Form I-129 to the USCIS.

You will schedule an interview. If you are from Mexico, you will need to go through a consulate interviews; these are normally not required for those 13 and younger or 80 and older. Between the ages of 14-79, you must usually have an interview. You must typically schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. The wait time varies at each Consulate.

You will prepare for your interview. Keep in mind that there are fees before you attend your interview. The non-refundable application fee is $160 and you are required to pay before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also have to pay a visa issuance fee if it is applicable to you.

You will gather the required documentation. One of the most important parts is gathering the correct documentation to bring to your interview. Here are some of the things that will be required:

  • Passport: The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States. If you have other people included in your passport, they must submit a separate application.
  • Visa Application: Form DS-160 (for Mexican nationals)
  • Fee Payment Receipt: If you must pay the fee before your interview, you must have the receipt.
  • Photo: You will upload your photo as mentioned previously.
  • Contractor or Letter of Employment: You must provide a contract or employment letter from an employer in the U.S. to show that there is actually a job offer waiting for you. The letter should include your purpose, a detailed description of the business, activities or job responsibilities, anticipated length of stay in the U.S., educational qualifications, and arrangements for your pay.
  • Proof of Qualifications: You must also bring documentation proving that you meet the minimum educational and work experience requirements. This could include a degree, diploma, certificate, professional license, and more.

You may also be required to bring additional documentation along with you. This may include evidence of your intent to depart the United States when you are finished. You may also want to bring proof of licensure to practice your given profession.

What Additional Information Should I Know?

One of the biggest questions you may have is this: Can my family come along with me? Yes, your spouse and unmarried, minor children may come with you. However, they must apply for TD visas to accompany you to the United States or join you later. For this, you must be able to show your ability to financially support your family in the U.S. However, if your spouse and children are living in Canada, then they will not need visas.

Avoiding Mistakes In The Process

Intent to Stay: You must be able to establish that you are returning home in the future, as a TN visa is not a permanent resident visa. Some things that may benefit your case are property ownership documents, financial ties, and other documents showing your ties to your country.

Job Title Specification: The NAFTA job list is pretty limited. The Employment Letter should also contain information that you will be employed in one of the occupational areas that appears on the schedule.

Presentation of Documentation: You may be denied if your documentation is incomplete or improper. You should bring solely what is needed and not more or less. (3)

Do you have questions concerning your Visa or the possibility of one? Are you still unsure of the process and believe you need some help along the way so that you, too, can receive a TN Visa and work in the United States? You may want to contact our firm today to help you obtain the information that you need. Call The Valdez Immigration Law Firm today for help with all your immigration needs!