Unlocking the TN Visa: A Guide for Canadian and Mexican Professionals

What is a TN visa?


TN visa is a non-immigrant visa category that allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to temporarily work in the United States. It is a product of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has been replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as of July 1, 2020. The TN visa is designed to facilitate the exchange of professional workers between these three countries.

Key features of the TN visa include:

  • Eligibility: To qualify for a TN visa, the applicant must be a citizen of either Canada or Mexico and have a job offer in the United States that falls within the specific categories outlined in the treaty. These categories primarily cover professions like engineers, scientists, teachers, accountants, and healthcare professionals, among others.
  • Job Offer: Applicants must have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer in one of the qualifying TN professions. The job offer should specify the nature of the work, the duration of the employment, and other relevant details.
  • Education and Credentials: TN visa applicants typically need to demonstrate that they possess the required education and qualifications for the profession they are entering. This often involves providing transcripts, diplomas, or professional licenses.
  • Application Process: The process for obtaining a TN visa varies slightly for Canadian and Mexican citizens. Canadian citizens can typically apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. port of entry, while Mexican citizens must apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy.
  • Length of Stay: TN visa holders can initially stay in the United States for up to three years, with the possibility of extensions as long as their employment continues to meet the TN visa requirements.
  • Family Members: Dependents, such as spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, of TN visa holders can also accompany them to the United States on a TD (Trade Dependent) visa. However, TD visa holders are not allowed to work in the U.S. but can attend school.

It’s important to note that TN visas are specific to citizens of Canada and Mexico and are tied to specific professions outlined in the treaty. The requirements and procedures may change, so individuals considering a TN visa should consult with the U.S. Department of State or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

How can Mexican nationals apply for a TN visa?

Mexican nationals seeking to obtain a TN (Trade NAFTA) visa to work in the United States must follow a slightly different application process compared to Canadian citizens. Here are the steps for Mexican nationals to apply for a TN visa:

  • Obtain a Job Offer: Just like Canadian nationals, Mexican nationals must first secure a valid job offer from a U.S. employer in a profession that qualifies for a TN visa. Ensure that the job offer includes details such as the job title, job description, salary, duration of employment, and any other relevant terms.
  • Apply for a TN Visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy:
    • Schedule a visa appointment at the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy in Mexico. You can usually do this online through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website.
    • Pay the non-refundable visa application fee as required by the U.S. Department of State.
    • Complete the DS-160online visa application form and print the confirmation page with the barcode. You will need this page for your visa interview.
    • Gather the required documentation, which typically includes:
      • Passport valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in the United States.
      • DS-160 confirmation page.
      • Visa application fee receipt.
      • One passport-sized photo that meets the U.S. visa photo requirements.
      • Original and photocopies of your job offer letter or employment contract.
      • Documentation of your qualifications, such as transcripts, diplomas, or professional licenses.
      • Any relevant professional certifications or memberships.
      • A resume or curriculum vitae (CV) outlining your work history and qualifications.

What other employment visas are available for Canadian and Mexican nationals?


In addition to the TN (Trade NAFTA) visa, Canadian and Mexican nationals may be eligible for other employment-related visas to work in the United States. Here are some of the most common options:

  • H-1B Visa: The H-1B visa is for foreign workers in specialty occupations, typically requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. Canadian and Mexican nationals can apply for H-1B visas like applicants from other countries. However, the annual quota for H-1B visas is subject to a numerical cap, and competition for these visas is typically high.
  • L-1 Visa: The L-1 visa is for intracompany transferees, allowing employees of multinational companies to transfer to a U.S. office. There are two subcategories: L-1A for managers and executives, and L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge. Canadian and Mexican nationals can apply for L-1 visas, and there is no annual cap.
  • E-1 and E-2 Visas: These visas are for individuals engaged in trade (E-1) or investment (E-2) activities between their home country (Canada or Mexico) and the United States. To qualify for these visas, there must be a treaty of commerce and navigation between the U.S. and the applicant’s home country.
  • O Visa: The O visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in their field, including O-1A for those with extraordinary ability in sciences, education, business, or athletics, and O-1B for those with extraordinary ability in the arts or entertainment.
  • P Visa: P visas are for athletes, entertainers, and artists. Canadian and Mexican nationals can apply for P visas if they are involved in these fields and meet the eligibility criteria.
  • E-3 Visa (for Australians): While not available to Canadian and Mexican nationals, it’s worth mentioning that Australian nationals have a unique visa option called the E-3 visa, which is similar to the H-1B visa. It is available exclusively to Australians who plan to work in a specialty occupation in the United States.
  • J-1 Visa (Exchange Visitor Visa): The J-1 visa is primarily for individuals participating in exchange programs, including students, researchers, and certain professionals. While not an employment visa in the traditional sense, some J-1 exchange visitors are authorized to work in specific circumstances.