A guide to TN visas for Canadian and Mexican professionals

US, Mexico, and Canadian flags on a building

Are you a citizen of Canada or Mexico seeking to work in the United States? A TN visa is an excellent opportunity for professionals from these countries to work in the US in certain approved occupations. 

The TN visa was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is now governed by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The TN visa is designed to facilitate the temporary entry of professionals to engage in business activities at a professional level.

List of approved TN occupations

The USMCA specifies a list of approved occupations for which individuals may apply for TN visa status. The approved occupations are classified into four groups: General Occupations, Medical Occupations, Scientist Occupations, and Teacher Occupations.

The purpose of the limited list is to ensure that the TN visa is reserved for professionals working in specific fields covered by the agreement outlined in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

Generally, TN classification requires a person to have a Bachelor’s Degree level of education (US or Canadian BA or BS, Mexican Licenciatura) in the designated field. Occupations marked with an asterisk (*) have special rules and may allow employment for those who do not have a Bachelor’s degree. Speak with a reputable immigration attorney for more details on special considerations. 

TN approved professions:

  1. Accountant
  2. Actuary (included in Mathematician category)
  3. Agriculturist (including Agronomists
  4. Agronomist (included in Agriculturalist)
  5. Animal Breeder
  6. Animal Scientist
  7. Apiculturist
  8. Architect
  9. Astronomer
  10. Biochemist
  11. Biologist (includes Plant Pathologist)
  12. Chemist
  13. Clinical Laboratory Scientist (included in Medical Technologist category)
  14. College Teacher
  15. College Professor (included in Teacher category)
  16. Computer Systems Analyst*
  17. Dairy Scientist
  18. Dentist
  19. Dietitian
  20. Disaster relief insurance claims adjuster*
  21. Economist
  22. Engineer (including all specializations and disciplines of engineering)
  23. Entomologist
  24. Epidemiologist
  25. Forester
  26. Forestry Specialist (included in Sylviculturalist)
  27. Geneticist
  28. Geochemist
  29. Geologist
  30. Geographer (included in Urban Planner)
  31. Geophysicist (including Oceanographer)
  32. Graphic Designer*
  33. Horticulturist
  34. Hotel Manager*
  35. Industrial Designer*
  36. Interior Designer*
  37. Land Surveyor*
  38. Landscape Architect*
  39. Lawyer
  40. Lecturer (College/University/Seminary level, included in Teacher category)
  41. Librarian*
  42. Management Consultant*
  43. Mathematician (includes Statisticians and Actuaries)
  44. Medical Technician (included in Scientific Technician/Technologist)*
  45. Medical Laboratory Technologist*
  46. Medical Technologist*
  47. Meteorologist
  48. Nutritionist
  49. Occupational Therapist
  50. Oceanographer (included in Geophysicist)
  51. Pharmacist
  52. Pharmacologist
  53. Physical Therapist
  54. Physician (teaching or research only, not practice of medicine)
  55. Physicist
  56. Physiotherapist
  57. Plant Breeder
  58. Plant Pathologist (included in Biologist)
  59. Poultry Scientist
  60. Professor (included in Teacher category)
  61. Psychologist
  62. Range Conservationist
  63. Range Manager
  64. Recreational Therapist
  65. Registered Nurse*
  66. Research Assistant (working in a postsecondary educational institution)
  67. Scientific Technician* (working in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics)
  68. Scientific Technologist* (working in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics)
  69. Seminary Teacher
  70. Statistician (included in Mathematician)
  71. Social Worker
  72. Soil Scientist
  73. Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)
  74. Technical Publications Writer*
  75. Teacher (at College, Seminary or University)
  76. Urban Planner (includes Geographer)
  77. University Teacher
  78. Veterinarian
  79. Vocational Counselor
  80. Zoologist

Understanding TN visa eligibility

To be eligible for a TN visa, you must meet specific criteria:

  1. Nationality and Proof of Citizenship: 

You must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico. A passport serves as sufficient proof of citizenship for Canadian citizens. In contrast, Mexican citizens will need a passport and a visa to enter the United States as a TN non-immigrant. This difference in visa requirements is based on the specific regulations and agreements between the US and each country.

  1. Job Offer:

A crucial requirement for a TN visa is a job offer from a US employer for a full-time or part-time position in an approved TN occupation. The job offer should be presented as a detailed letter from the prospective employer outlining your job role, purpose of employment, length of stay, and remuneration details, which typically encompass the salary, benefits, or any other form of compensation associated with the employment. 

  1. Qualifications and Credentials:

You must demonstrate that you are a qualified professional in one of the approved specialty occupations. This typically involves providing evidence of your educational qualifications and professional credentials. Evidence of academic qualifications includes transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and previous employment records. Proof of professional credentials includes documentation of diplomas, degrees, and evaluations, as well as proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the US, along with the job offer letter and other documentation.

The Application Process

Applying for a TN visa varies slightly for Canadian and Mexican citizens.

  • Canadian Citizens: Canadian citizens can apply for TN non-immigrant status at a US port of entry or have their employer submit the TN application along with Form I-129 to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

According to the USCIS website, “a prospective TN employer may file on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is outside of the United States by submitting Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker to USCIS. Premium Processing Service is available.

If USCIS approves Form I-129, you, the prospective worker, may then apply to CBP for admission to the United States as a TN non-immigrant by providing proof of Canadian citizenship and the Form I-129 approval notice to a CBP Officer at certain CBP-designated US ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.”

  • Mexican Citizens: Mexican citizens must submit the necessary paperwork, which may include the job offer letter, proof of educational qualifications, and any other supporting materials, to a US embassy or consulate along with Form DS-160. After completing Form DS-160, Mexican citizens must schedule and attend an interview at a US embassy or consulate in Mexico. 

Following a successful interview, Mexican citizens will receive a visa number, which is a critical component for the subsequent entry process. With the visa number and all necessary documentation, Mexican citizens can proceed to a designated US port of entry to seek admission as a TN non-immigrant.

TN visa limitations

The initial period of stay for TN visa holders is typically granted for up to three years. However, it’s important to note that the TN visa is a non-immigrant visa, and the period of stay is determined by the specific terms of the visa and the duration of the employment offer. TN visa holders must adhere to the authorized period of stay indicated on their Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, which is issued upon entry into the United States. 

There is no limit to how many times the TN visa can be renewed as long as you continue to satisfy the eligibility requirements. However, as a TN, you must establish “non-immigrant intent” during your interview process. This means that you must show the US immigration authorities that you do not intend to stay in the US permanently and will eventually return to your home country.

TN visa holders can travel to other countries while holding a valid TN visa. However, it’s essential to ensure the visa remains valid for re-entry into the United States. Additionally, individuals should carry the necessary supporting documentation, such as the job offer letter and evidence of qualifications, when re-entering the US to resume TN visa status.

TN visa application assistance

Working with a US immigration lawyer experienced in handling TN visas can be highly beneficial for Canadian and Mexican citizens and US employers navigating the application process. A reputable immigration lawyer can provide valuable guidance, assist in preparing the required documentation, and offer support throughout the entire process, ensuring a smooth and timely application experience.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the TN visa application process, don’t hesitate to reach out to Stump and Associates, your trusted immigration law firm in Oklahoma City. Our team of experienced immigration attorneys is here to help you achieve your professional goals in the United States.

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