To create better trade relations and opportunities between the countries of North America, the United States, Canada and Mexico signed a NAFTA agreement. This agreement offered several benefits to citizens of Canada and Mexico, including a non-immigrant visa. If you’re a Canadian or Mexican citizen, the TN visa allows you to stay and work in the US for an extended time.

What Is a TN Visa?

The TN is a non-immigrant visa for the United States that allows approved Canadian and Mexican nationals to work temporarily in the States. Since it’s a visa, you must return to your country once it expires. Citizens who find a job in the United States can apply for a TN visa. However, this isn’t an option for permanent residents.

The NAFTA agreement, signed in 1994, specifies which types of occupations and jobs citizens can pursue to obtain a TN visa. The agreement lists over 63 professions, including lawyers, teachers, and scientists.

Unlike the H-1B visa, there’s no cap on the TN visa for Canadians and Mexicans. This means there’s no limit to the number of people who can apply for and be approved for a TN visa. If you’re a Canadian or Mexican citizen and meet the requirements for the visa, you can enter and work in the United States.

Depending upon your nationality, there are two types of TN visas.

  • TN-1 visa is for the citizens of Canada
  • TN-2 visa is for the citizens of Mexico

Advantages and Disadvantages of TN Status

The TN status allows the nationals of Canada and Mexico to visit the United States and conduct their business activities. Just like other visa options, the TN status has a few advantages, and there are some areas where it needs a slight improvement.

Advantages of TN Status

  • The TN visa covers a wide range of professions and occupations. These include scientists, teachers, engineers, doctors, and hotel managers. To qualify for the visa, you only need proof of education.
  • If you’re a Canadian citizen, you don’t need to apply for a TN visa beforehand. You can apply for this classification when you enter the United States. This facility is available at major U.S. ports of entry and designated pre-flight inspection stations.
  • Before entering the United States, you can select the company or employer where you’ll work. However, you should keep in mind that your work requirements and the type of work must comply with NAFTA.
  • With the TN visa, you can also sponsor your spouse or children. This means that they can accompany you and stay in the U.S. for the duration of your visa.

Disadvantages of TN Status

  • The TN status is mentioned under the NAFTA agreement and only admits the citizens of Canada and Mexico.
  • Although there’s a comprehensive list of occupations eligible for the TN visa, each requires a bachelor’s degree. You cannot substitute your experience for the required degree. However, there are a few exceptions mentioned in the agreement.
  • If you’re a Mexican citizen, you cannot immediately apply for a TN visa at a U.S. port. You must apply for your visa at a U.S. embassy before you arrive.
  • You must select your employer and determine your working conditions before applying for a TN visa. You can apply for TN status only when you have a job in the U.S.
  • The TN status is a non-immigrant visa. This implies your stay is limited in time, and you must return to your country after the visa expires.
  • The visa also doesn’t allow dual intent. So you can’t stay and work in the U.S. while seeking permanent residency with a TN visa. There’s a good chance you’ll be fined for this.
  • Your family may accompany you while you work in the U.S., but this only applies to your spouse and children under the age of 21. Also, your spouse or children aren’t allowed to work and must leave the country when the visa expires.

Application Process for the TN Visa

The application process for the TN visa differs for Canadian and Mexican citizens. However, an essential factor to remember when applying for a visa is that regardless of your country, you must declare your intent. You must tell officials that you’re entering the U.S. to work and will leave the country when your visa expires.

Canadian Citizens

If you’re a Canadian citizen, you apply for a TN -1 visa when you visit the United States. You don’t have to apply for the visa before your visit. You can simply obtain it upon your entry into the United States. Upon entry, you must present all of your documents to a CBP officer.

As a Canadian citizen, you’ll need the following documents when entering the United States.

  • Proof that you’re a Canadian citizen
  • An employment letter detailing your professional capacity
  • An evaluation of your credentials, such as a bachelor’s degree
  • Possible entry fees

You can also ask your employer to apply for a TN visa on your behalf.

Mexican Citizens

If you’re a Mexican citizen, you apply for a TN -2 visa to visit the United States. You must apply for a visa before your visit. You can do this at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. This is the application process if you’re a Mexican citizen.

  • You must first fill out the online visa application form (form D.S. – 160).
  • Then, you must make an appointment for an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country.
  • Before you go for the interview, you will have to pay an application fee of $160. You may also need to pay an issuance fee. You’ll also need some documents for your interview.
  • Once your application for the TN -2 visa is approved, you’ll need to have another interview with the immigration office.

After that, you can visit the U.S. port, present all the documents and the visa, and enter the country.

Are TN Visa Holders Considered as Resident Foreigners?

You’ll be considered a resident foreigner when you’ve lived in the U.S. for at least three years with TN status. However, you aren’t considered a resident alien if you live in Canada or Mexico and only commute to the U.S. for work.

As a TN visa holder, you’ve many advantages over other visas. If you’re a Canadian or Mexican citizen and plan to work in the U.S., you should consider applying for a TN visa.