The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:
To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.
Extraordinary ability in the field of arts means distinction. Distinction means a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of arts.
To qualify for an O-1 visa in the motion picture or television industry, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture and/or television field.
If you are a Canadian citizen, then you are not required to apply for a visa with a U.S. consulate or file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can request admission as a TN nonimmigrant at a U.S. port of entry, and you must provide the following documentation:
Proof of Canadian citizenship
Letter from your prospective employer detailing items such as the professional capacity in which you will work in the United States, the purpose of your employment, your length of stay, your educational qualifications
Credentials evaluation (if applicable)
If you are eligible following inspection by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer, then you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant. Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record, will be evidence of your admission.
If you are a Mexican citizen, then you are not required to file a petition with USCIS. However, you are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant. You should apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. See the Department of State link to the right “Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker.”
Once you are approved for a TN visa you may apply for admission at a United States port-of-entry. If you are eligible following inspection by a CBP Officer, then you will be admitted as a TN nonimmigrant. Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record, will be evidence of your admission.
Initial Period of Stay
Up to 3 years
If you wish to stay beyond the time indicated on Form I-94, you must seek an extension of stay. If you are in the United States, your employer may file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS. For more information see the “Extend Your Stay” link to the right.
Note: You may apply at a port of entry using the same application and documentation procedures required at the time of your initial entry.
Any accompanying or following to join spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible for TD nonimmigrant status. They must demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to you. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada, but they must contact the American embassy or consulate that serves their area for information on how to apply for a visa. Spouses and children cannot work while in the United States, but they are permitted to study.
Any spouse and children of a Canadian citizen do not need visas, but they must provide the following documentation at the port of entry:
Proof of Canadian citizenship
Proof of relationship to the TN nonimmigrant, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate
Photocopies of the TN nonimmigrant’s entry documents
Any spouse and children of a Mexican citizen must apply for the TD nonimmigrant status at an American embassy or consulate.
If any spouse and children are following to join the TN nonimmigrant, then they must show a valid Form I-94 as proof that the TN nonimmigrant is maintaining his or her TN nonimmigrant status.