This article provides a summary of the TN Visa Application Process, and details of the TN Visa Occupation List.

What is a TN Visa?

The TN Visa is a special immigration classification for professionals from Canada or Mexico to work in the United States in one of the professions listed in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico to encourage a commitment to North American economic collaboration.  

The nonimmigrant USMCA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as USMCA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged, professional level, business activities in the United States.  

This visa category offers a unique opportunity for professional business activities within the U.S. It differs from other work visas with its streamlined process. 

Understanding the TN Visa: A Brief Overview

The TN Visa represents a cornerstone of economic partnership and professional exchange between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

It enables eligible professionals to work in the United States for a renewable period. Continual eligibility is required for renewal. 

This visa includes a variety of professions (see the extensive list at the end of this article). Among them are engineers, pharmacists, teachers, and lawyers. Each profession has specific educational and professional qualifications.

The Role of NAFTA in Establishing the TN Visa

NAFTA, signed to eliminate trade barriers and foster investment, led to the TN Visa’s inception. This agreement among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico aimed at simplifying professional work across borders. 

The TN Visa initiative has been key in enhancing economic activities and cultural exchange. It reflects a vision of cooperation and growth shared by the NAFTA countries.

Who is Eligible for the TN Visa? A Look at Nationality Requirements

The TN Visa is exclusive to Canadian and Mexican citizens. It’s crucial to note that permanent residents or dual citizens without Canadian or Mexican citizenship are ineligible. 

Applicants must be in a profession listed under NAFTA. They must also have the necessary qualifications and a pre-arranged job with a U.S. employer.

The TN Visa connects professionals with opportunities in the United States. It fosters an environment of shared knowledge and expertise.

Understanding the TN Visa Categories

Navigating the landscape of TN Visas reveals distinct pathways and criteria for Canadian and Mexican professionals seeking employment in the United States.

This section aims to demystify the differences and requirements of the two primary categories: TN1 and TN2 Visas.

Distinctions between TN1 and TN2 Visas

The TN1 Visa is specifically designed for Canadian citizens, offering a streamlined entry into the U.S. without the need for a visa from the U.S. Department of State U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

In contrast, the TN2 Visa is the visa eligible to Mexican citizens and requires a visa to be issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for applicants, as it influences the application process, documentation required, and the overall timeline for visa approval.

Eligibility Criteria for Canadian and Mexican Citizens

Eligibility for both TN1 and TN2 visas is grounded in nationality and profession. Canadian and Mexican citizens must be engaged in professions listed under the NAFTA agreement.

The criteria also include educational qualifications and, in some cases, professional experience. Both Canadian and Mexican citizens should have their Bachelor’s degree and transcript.  If the academic achievement was obtained from a university outside of the United States, Mexico, or Canada, the individual should also present a credential evaluation to demonstrate the degree is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree.

The validity of the TN status may be up to three years.  Thereafter, the TN worker may apply to renew TN status.

Overview of the TN Visa Application Process

The TN Visa application process varies slightly between the TN1 and TN2 categories.

For Canadian citizens, it typically involves presenting documentation at a U.S. port of entry before a Customs and Border Protection Officer.  It is always best to contact the specific port of entry to determine the best time to arrive for a Customs and Border Protection officer to review the TN application.  The fee is $56.

Mexican citizens must apply for the TN visa at a U.S. Consulate.  In Mexico, the only available locations are the U.S. Consulates in Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, and Mexico City.  Additionally, the fee for the TN visa is $185 plus the country reciprocity fee which depends on whether the Mexican citizen requests a one year visa ($79) or four year visa ($357). 

Regardless of nationality, all applicants must provide proof of their professional qualifications, a job offer from a U.S. employer in a qualifying profession, and evidence of intent to stay in the U.S. temporarily. Understanding these steps is essential for a smooth application experience and successful entry into the U.S. job market.  Also, it is important to know that individuals may not enter with a TN visa more than ten days before the start date listed on the TN employment letter.

Detailed Guide to TN Visa Professions

The TN Visa Professions List is a comprehensive compilation of careers that qualify under the NAFTA agreement. It’s a diverse array of fields, each with its specific requirements and qualifications. In this section, we’ll explore the major categories and delve into the nuances of each profession.

Exploring the TN Visa Professions List:

Medical and Health Services:

  • Dentist—D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license.
  • Dietitian—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States) [7] —Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience.
  • Nutritionist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Occupational Therapist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Pharmacist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Physician (teaching or research only)—M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license.
  • Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Psychologist—State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Recreational Therapist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Registered Nurse—State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Veterinarian—D.V.M., D.M.V., or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license.

Science and Engineering:

  • Agriculturist (including Agronomist)—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Animal Breeder—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Animal Scientist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Apiculturist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Astronomer—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Biochemist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Biologist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.[8]
  • Chemist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Computer Systems Analyst—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma [3] or Post-Secondary Certificate,[4] and three years experience.
  • Engineer—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Dairy Scientist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Entomologist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Epidemiologist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geneticist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geochemist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geologist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Horticulturist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Meteorologist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Pharmacologist—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.
  • Zoologist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.

Architecture, Design, and Planning:

  • Architect—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • 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.
  • Landscape Architect—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Urban Planner (including Geographer)—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.

Business, Finance, and Management:

  • Accountant—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.
  • Economist—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Legal and Administrative Professions:

  • 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.
  • Librarian—M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite).

Environmental and Earth Sciences:

  • Forester—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.

Education and Teaching:

  • College—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Seminary—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • University—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.

Arts, Communication, and Culture:

  • Graphic Designer—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience.
  • Technical Publications Writer—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience.

Social Sciences and Community Services:

  • Social Worker—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Vocational Counselor—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)

Mathematics, Statistics, and Analysis:

  • Mathematician (including Statistician)—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.[5]
  • Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Land Surveyor—Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/federal license.

This list illustrates the breadth of professional opportunities available under the TN Visa category. Each role has specific requirements, including degrees, professional licenses, and sometimes, specific work experience. Applicants must carefully review and comply with the qualifications for their chosen profession to ensure a successful application process.

Industry-Specific Requirements and Exceptions

Certain professions under the TN Visa have industry-specific requirements or exceptions. For example, in the medical field, a physician must not only have a medical degree but also a valid license to practice in their home country.

In business and finance, while a Bachelor’s degree might suffice for an accountant, a management consultant might need substantial industry experience to qualify.

Each profession on the TN Visa Professions List is defined not just by academic qualifications but also by industry standards and professional licenses, where applicable. Understanding these specifics is crucial for a successful TN Visa application.

Preparing for the TN Visa Application

Applying for a TN Visa involves meticulous preparation and attention to detail. This section will guide you through the essential steps, ensuring that you are well-prepared for the application process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Filling Out Form DS-160

  • Starting the Form: Begin by accessing the DS-160 form online on the Consular Electronic Application Center website.
  • Completing Personal Information: Fill in your personal details accurately. This includes your name, address, date of birth, and other personal data.
  • Providing Travel Information: Detail your travel plans, if known. This includes the purpose of your trip and your intended length of stay in the U.S.
  • Education and Work History: Input your educational background and employment history comprehensively.
  • Security and Background Questions: Answer all security and background questions truthfully to avoid complications.
  • Review and Submit: Double-check all entries for accuracy before submission. Remember, corrections are not allowed after submission.

Understanding the Photo Requirements for the Application

  • Photo Specifications: Ensure your photo meets the required specifications – it should be in color, taken within the last six months, have a full-face view directly facing the camera, with a plain white or off-white background.
  • Size and Format: The photo should be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) with your head measuring between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 – 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
  • Quality and Standards: The photo should be of high quality, not pixelated or grainy, and should not have shadows or reflections.

Scheduling and Preparing for the U.S. Embassy Interview

  • Scheduling the Interview: Once your DS-160 is submitted, schedule your visa interview at the U.S. Consulate.
  • Gathering Required Documents: Prepare the necessary documents, including your passport, DS-160 confirmation page, photo, and any additional supporting documents.
  • Interview Preparation: Familiarize yourself with potential interview questions. These often pertain to your professional qualifications, purpose of travel, and ties to your home country.
  • On the Day of the Interview: Arrive early, dress professionally, and remain calm and honest during the interview.

Each of these steps plays a critical role in the TN Visa application process. Detailed preparation and adherence to guidelines are key to ensuring a smooth and successful application experience.

Documentation and Additional Requirements

Proper documentation is the backbone of a successful TN Visa application. This section focuses on the essential documents required, additional paperwork for certain professions, and tips to ensure a complete and accurate application.

Gathering Essential Documents for TN Visa Application

  • Proof of Citizenship: Valid passport from Canada or Mexico.
  • Job Offer Letter: A detailed offer letter from the U.S. employer specifying the nature of the position and job duties, and the duration of employment.
  • Credentials Verification: Academic transcripts and diplomas, professional licenses, employment verification letters, and certificates relevant to your TN profession.
  • Form DS-160 Confirmation Page: Printed confirmation of your submitted DS-160 form.
  • Payment Receipts: Proof of payment for the DS-160 application fee.

Navigating Additional Documentation for Specific Professions

  • Professional Licensing: For professions like law, medicine, engineering, architecture, etc. evidence of appropriate licensure in your home country and whether a license is required in the state you intend to work.
  • Experience Letters: If your profession requires specific experience, letters from previous employers detailing your roles and responsibilities.
  • Portfolio or Work Samples: For creative fields like graphic design or technical writing, a portfolio or samples of your work may be necessary.

Tips for Ensuring A Complete and Accurate Application

  • Checklist Creation: Make a detailed checklist of all required and additional documents for your specific TN Visa category.
  • Early Preparation: Start gathering and organizing documents well in advance to avoid last-minute rushes.
  • Document Verification: Ensure all copies are legible and translations are certified, if necessary.
  • Application Review: Double-check your application and documents for completeness and accuracy. Inaccurate or incomplete applications can lead to delays or denials.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of any changes in documentation requirements by regularly checking official U.S. immigration resources.

Adhering to these guidelines will help streamline the documentation process, a crucial step towards securing your TN Visa. Remember, thoroughness and accuracy in your application and supporting documents can significantly impact the outcome of your visa request.

TN Visa Duration and Renewal Process

Understanding the lifespan of your TN Visa and the renewal process is crucial for continuous legal employment in the U.S. This section covers the visa’s validity period, the renewal procedure, and the role of your employer in this process.

Understanding the Validity Period of a TN Visa

  • Initial Validity: A TN Visa may be granted for up to three years.
  • Check Your I-94: The exact duration of your stay is determined by the I-94 record issued at the port of entry, which may differ from the visa validity.
  • Extensions: TN Visa holders can seek extensions in increments of up to three years.

Renewing Your TN Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

  • Timing: Begin the renewal process well before your current TN status expires. Ideally, start at least six months in advance.
  • Renewal Application: Submit a new Form DS-160 and schedule an interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy if outside the U.S. If in the U.S., your employer can file Form I-129 for an extension.
  • Updated Documents: Provide current documents, including a new job offer letter and any updated credentials.
  • Re-Entry on a New TN Visa: If you exit the U.S. after visa expiration, you must obtain a new TN Visa to re-enter for work purposes.

Employer’s Role in Extending or Renewing a TN Visa

  • Support with Documentation: Employers must provide a current job offer letter and may need to assist with Form I-129 for in-country renewals.
  • Validity of Employment: The employer must confirm that your position and need for your professional services still exist.
  • Change of Employer: If changing employers, a new TN Visa application is required. Your new employer must provide the necessary documentation for the application.

Keeping track of your TN Visa’s validity and understanding the renewal process is essential for maintaining your legal status in the U.S. Both you and your employer play vital roles in ensuring a smooth transition through each renewal cycle.

Changing Employers or Job Positions

Transitioning to a new employer or job position while on a TN Visa involves specific procedures and considerations. Understanding these steps is crucial to maintain your visa status.

Procedure for Changing Employers on a TN Visa

  • Notification of Change: Inform your current employer of your intention to change jobs.
  • New Job Offer: Secure a job offer from your new employer in a profession eligible under the TN Visa.
  • New Visa Application: You must apply for a new TN Visa with documentation from your new employer. This typically involves submitting a new Form DS-160 and scheduling an interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy, if outside the U.S., or filing Form I-129 for a change of employer if you are already in the U.S.
  • Departure and Re-Entry: If outside the U.S., you may need to depart and re-enter with your new TN Visa. Ensure that you receive a new I-94 record upon re-entry that reflects your new employer and TN status.

Impact of Job Changes on TN Visa Status

  • Validity Period: Your TN status is employer-specific. Changing employers effectively ends your current TN status.
  • 60 Grace Period: If your employment ends before your status expires, you may have a grace period of 60 days to find a new employer.  However, unlike some other visa categories, you must wait for the new TN visa or status to be approved before you can begin working for the new employer.
  • Continuous Employment: Ensure there are no gaps in employment during the transition to maintain your status.

Legal Considerations When Switching Jobs or Careers

  • Consistency of Profession: Your new job must be within the professions listed under the TN Visa agreement. Significant changes in job duties might require a new assessment of eligibility.
  • Documentation: Comprehensive documentation from the new employer outlining the job offer and how it fits within TN Visa professions is critical.
  • Legal Counsel: Consult with an immigration attorney to navigate the complexities of changing employers or job positions. Legal advice is particularly important if the change involves a different type of profession or if there are any unusual circumstances.

Changing employers or job positions on a TN Visa requires careful planning and adherence to immigration regulations. Ensure all steps are thoroughly followed to maintain your legal status and employment eligibility in the United States.

Understanding Denials and Appeals

Facing a TN Visa application denial can be challenging, but understanding the reasons and knowing how to appeal is crucial.

Common Reasons for TN Visa Application Denials

  • Incomplete Applications: Missing or incomplete information in the application.
  • Inadequate Documentation: Lack of sufficient evidence to prove professional qualifications or job eligibility.
  • Job Category Mismatch: The proposed position does not clearly fall under the TN Visa professions list.

Navigating the Appeals Process for TN Visa

  • Review the Denial Letter: Understand the specific reasons for the denial.
  • Reapply or Appeal: Depending on the reason for denial, you may choose to reapply with corrected information or appeal the decision.
  • Consult an Attorney: Consider seeking advice from an immigration attorney for the best course of action.

Strategies to Strengthen Your TN Visa Application After a Denial

  • Address Specific Concerns: Tailor your new application to address the reasons for the initial denial.
  • Gather Additional Documentation: Provide more comprehensive and detailed supporting documents.
  • Preparation for Interview: If the denial was related to the interview, prepare more thoroughly by understanding potential questions and appropriate responses.

Understanding and addressing the reasons for a TN Visa denial are key steps toward a successful future application. With proper preparation and guidance, you can enhance your application to meet the stringent requirements of the TN Visa process.

TN Visa Extensions and Path to Permanent Residency

TN Visa holders often consider long-term options, including permanent residency.

Exploring Pathways from TN Visa to Permanent Residency

  • Adjustment of Status: TN Visa holders may transition to permanent residency through employment-based sponsorship or family-based petitions.
  • Dual Intent Issues: Unlike some visas, the TN Visa does not inherently support dual intent, so navigate this path carefully.

How TN Visa Extensions Work: A Detailed Look

  • Renewal Process: TN Visas can be renewed indefinitely in up to three-year increments.
  • Documentation: Renewals require updated job offer letters and other relevant documents.

Strategies for Transitioning from TN Visa to Green Card

  • Employer Sponsorship: Seek employer sponsorship for a green card through an employment-based visa category. Learn more about Employment-Based Immigration here.
  • Adjustment of Status: File for adjustment of status when eligible, ensuring compliance with TN Visa limitations.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Concluding the TN Visa application journey, it’s important to reflect on key points and future considerations.

Summarizing the TN Visa Application Journey

  • Comprehensive Preparation: Success in the TN Visa process hinges on detailed preparation and understanding of requirements.
  • Adherence to Rules: Strict adherence to the rules and procedures is critical.

Final Tips and Advice for Prospective TN Visa Applicants

  • Stay Updated: Regularly check for updates on TN Visa policies.
  • Seek Professional Advice: Consider consulting with an immigration lawyer for personalized guidance.

How to Stay Informed About Changes in TN Visa Policies and Procedures

  • Official Sources: Regularly visit U.S. immigration websites for the latest information.
  • Legal Counsel: Stay in touch with immigration professionals for updates and interpretations of new policies.

As TN Visa applicants or holders, staying informed and prepared is key to navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration policies. 

If you have more questions or need assistance with TN Visa applications or challenges, Habich Law is here to help. 

Our experienced team is well-versed in the complexities of U.S. immigration law, offering guidance and support tailored to your unique situation. Contact us for expert advice on your TN Visa journey.