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. The TN classification is limited to professionals in certain occupations; a complete list of those occupations can be found here.

You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:

  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Your profession qualifies under the regulations;
  • The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
  • You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer; and
  • You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.

TN nonimmigrant status should not be used to enter the United States with the intention of starting a business. While it is possible to enter on TN status while holding partial ownership in a U.S. company, individuals who are the majority shareholder may want to look into E-1 or E-2 visas, which are better suited for company owners to enter the U.S. to create or develop their business.

For entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their workforce, TN nonimmigrant status would allow for citizens of Mexico and Canada to be hired to work in the U.S., so long as the eligibility criteria are met. It can also provide an alternative to other statuses, such as H-1B status.

Individuals who are inside the United States you can adjust status to TN visa classification through a petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate. Rather, they may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time they seek admission to the United States by presenting required documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.

Mexican citizens on the other hand are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant. They should apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.

The TN classification is valid for up to three years and can be renewed indefinitely. Please note that individuals in the Management Consultant occupational category will only have valid status for one year.