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What You Need to Know
About TN Visas

Visa Type

TN visa classification is for Canadian or Mexican citizens who will be employed in the United States in certain professional occupational categories first established under the North America Free Trade Agreement and subsequently continued without change under the successor trade agreement.

Who Qualifies

Professionals who hold Canadian or Mexican citizenship and the specific professional credentials required by CIS regulation for the occupational classification qualify.  Most of the occupational classifications require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific or relevant field, though some do not.  Notable exceptions include Management Consultants, Scientific Technicians/Technologists, and Computer Systems Analysts.  If a bachelor’s degree is required for an occupational classification, an applicant may qualify based on a foreign bachelor’s degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree.


There is no quota for this visa type.

Time Limitation

TN status has an initial period of up to three years and is extendable in three-year increments without specific limitation on the number of extensions available. 

Dependent Eligibility

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 are eligible for TN dependent status.

Dependent Work Authorization

TN dependents are not eligible to apply for work authorization.

Dual Intent

TN nonimmigrants must maintain nonimmigrant intent.  Immigrant intent is not permitted.

Petition Requirement

Employers do not need to file a petition with USCIS in advance.  Generally, applicants present their application at the U.S.-Canada border crossing or Preflight Inspection Station (Canadian citizens) or at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (Mexican citizens).  Some employers prefer to file a petition with USCIS in advance in order to secure a three-year approval notice which can be useful for frequent international travelers.


TN in Greater Detail

The category “Professionals under the North American Free Trade Agreement” is available only to citizens of Mexico and Canada. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a citizen of a Mexico or Canada may work in a professional occupation in the U.S. provided that:

  1. The profession is on the NAFTA list (see occupation list below);
  2. The alien possesses the specific listed criteria for that profession;
  3. The prospective position requires someone in that professional capacity; and
  4. The applicant is going to provide professional services to a U.S. entity on a temporary basis.

The spouse and unmarried, minor children of the NAFTA applicant are eligible for the derivative TD status but are not granted employment authorization in the United States. The TN is a non-immigrant classification.

Canadian citizens are not required to obtain a visa, but instead receive “TN” status with the immigration officer at the port of entry. They are issued a paper I-94 card if entering the U.S. by land or electronic I-94 record if entering the U.S. by air or sea. The I-94 record will designate the TN status with work authorization valid for multiple entries up to a 3-year period. 

Dependent family members that are not Canadian citizens must apply for TD visas at the U.S. consulate of their residence before they can be admitted in TN status.  They should receive an I-94 card valid for multiple entries and valid for the duration of the principal’s TN stay.

Mexican citizens must first apply directly to the U.S. consulate of their residence for a TN visa to be issued in their passportThe visa can be issued for a validity period of up to 1-year duration. Upon issuance of the TN visa they are admitted through the Port of Entry and will be issued a paper I-94 card if entering the U.S. by land or electronic I-94 record if entering the U.S. by air or sea.  The I-94 record will designate the TN status with work authorization valid for multiple entries up to a 3-year period depending upon the amount of time requested in the employer letter. 

“TN” status will only be granted if the period of stay is temporary.     

If you would like further information, please contact Foster LLP at 713-229-8733 (Houston, TX), or at 512-478-9475 (Austin, TX) or email a consultation request through our website at


This article is made available for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.