The TN visa which is also known as TN status (Trade NAFTA) is a program under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that allows citizens of Mexico, the United States, and Canada to freely access each other’s country for work or business purposes without a visa.
The TN status (Trade NAFTA) is actually a unique non-immigrant classification in Canada, the US, and Mexico, that allows citizens from those countries to work in any of the countries for three (3) years. Although it is sometimes referred to as a TN visa, it’s not necessarily a visa, it’s more like a work permit.
The TN status also acts as a work visa for some professionals from any of the three (3) NAFTA member states. Qualified professionals from any of the NAFTA member states can access any of the member countries to work provided they are qualified for the TN status.
Qualified professional citizens from any of the 3 NAFTA member states don’t need a visa to access any of the three (3) countries provided they are approved and admitted on a TN status.
There’s a list of professions/occupations qualified for the NAFTA professional designation and you can find the complete list of eligible NAFTA professions here.
Advantages of The TN Visa
- Canadian citizens can easily obtain a NAFTA visa at the border. The Labor Certification from the Department of Labor or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) doesn’t take you through any approval process.
- Once a Mexican or Canadian professional has obtained a TN Visa status, they can easily request extensions based on their qualifying professional activity.
- With a TN Visa, you can request a TD dependent visa status for your children (under 21) and spouse. Your dependents can easily attend school, just as long as they’re qualified under the TD visa classification criteria.
- Provided you have a valid TN status, you will have free and unrestricted movement in and out of the U.S.
TN Visa Requirements
To qualify for the TN Visa (NAFTA), below are the following requirements you must meet:
- You should be a Canadian, Mexican, or U.S. citizen
- Your desired job must be listed in the NAFTA job list in NAFTA (Appendix 1603.D)
- You must be qualified to work simply by having the required licenses and/or experience, or degrees to perform the job offered.
- You have a job offer by any Mexican, U.S., or Canadian employer.
- You don’t intend to permanently stay in the country as the visa is valid for only 3 years.
TN Visa Categories
There are two (2) types of TN visas and they are the TN-1 Visa and the TN-2 Visa. The three (3) different states have their various ranking of the TN visa. While Canada refers to TN visas issued to citizens of the U.S as TN-1 Visas and TN visas issued to Mexican citizens as TN-2 Visa.
The U.S also refers to TN visas given to Canadian citizens as TN-1 while the ones issued to the Mexican citizens are regarded as TN-2.
Note: Citizens of Canada have free access to the USA and don’t require a visa for entry, consequently, citizens of Canada are technically applying for a TN Status and not a Visa. Nevertheless, the term TN Visa or TN1 Visa can be used in this post as a result of the purpose of simplicity.
TN Visa Checklist
It’s always important that you travel with the required documents when visiting the immigration officers at the border. This is to avoid being sent back to your country to get some documents, which will in turn make you miss your flight.
Below are the required documents that you must go with to show the immigration officer:
- Proof of Citizenship
- Your Employment Letter (or TN Visa Application Letter)
- Proof that you satisfied the requirements for the occupation that you’re applying for under NAFTA
- Fee for filing
Depending on your job experience, educational qualification, and occupation, you may need some extra documents.
How Do I Apply For My TN Visa Application?
The application process varies from country to country. Although the modification is slightly different for citizenships and countries. We have covered the various methods you can apply for the TN Visa in the three (3) countries, and they include:
- Citizens Of Canada Applying by Mail to the USCIS Office
- Citizens Of Canada Applying At a U.S Border Crossing
- Citizens Of Mexico Applying At a U.S. Border Crossing
- American citizens applying to work in Canada
Citizens Of Canada Applying by Mail to the USCIS Office
Applying by mail is the easiest way to apply for people outside the U.S. But, this method of application is for people who have already had an existing TN Visa, have resided in the U.S, and were only renewing their TN visa for the same position.
The things you need include the following: the Free Trade Supplement, filing a Form I-129 form, and the supporting documents we listed above.
Obtain the I-129 address details here. Mail your application to the Vermont Service Center.
Ensure you don’t leave any document out, and also make sure you submit all the documents as if you were applying at the POE (Port of Entry).
Note that you will be interviewed and could possibly be denied entry by the immigration officers at the border even after your application has been approved. So, don’t think you can easily manoeuvre interview and other processes – always go prepared.
Also, note that you are to pay for a filling fee (Pay in US dollars) for Form I-129, and it must be paid alongside your mailed application. See all the application details on the USCIS Form I-129 web page.
Citizens Of Canada Applying At a U.S Border Crossing
Citizens of Canada can apply for the TN visa at various border points and this includes both land or sea.
Land Border Crossing
We have several border crossings and it’s not all of them that require processing TN Visa, thus it’s always advisable to plan ahead of time to know if you can apply for the TN Visa.
If a citizen of Canada works in California, she or he can quickly drive down to the San Diego / Tijuana border crossing (officially the San Ysidro crossing) and easily renew their TN Visa without necessarily returning back to Canada.
Pre-flight station (or Pre-clearance Center)
You can easily find a U.S. Pre-clearance center in any Canadian international airport. Submit your TN Visa Application to the US Immigration Officer on duty.
Try not to book your flight too early in the morning. This is because the Pre-clearance center may not open so early. It’s always recommended that you book your flight later in the day.
It’s always advisable to arrive 3 to 4 hours before your departing time, so there will be enough time for the immigration Officer to review your application.
U.S. International Airport
If the airport you decide to depart from don’t have a pre-clearance center, then you’ll need to do your customs and immigration once you arrive at the U.S. International Airport. There you’ll present your TN request and also submit your application.
This process is not recommended for those applying for the first time. This is because if you’re denied a TN Visa, you’ll not be allowed to enter U.S. Thus, you’ll be left with no option than to buy a flight ticket back to your own country.
Citizens Of Mexico Applying to Work in the U.S
Canadian and Mexican citizens applying for the TN Visa share lots of similarities, except for the fact that citizens of Mexico may possibly need additional steps prior to leaving Mexico. Some of the required steps includes:
- Completing the DS-160 application
- File your application at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico
- Schedule an appointment for an interviewed
- Pay the interview fee and be interviewed
There are some U.S. employers that may not be willing to wait for this process in a situation where they desire their employees to start working immediately. The process can takes some time, it should therefore be planned very well.
WHAT SHOULD I DO? – It’s best to let your employer know that there could be some possible delay and you’ll put in your best to ensure you obtain the TN Visa as fast as possible.
Don’t forget to also keep your employer updated on your progress, this will let them know your progress level and also help to keep their minds on you.
Before applying for your first (1st) TN Visa as a Mexican citizen here are things you should know:
- You will pay a fee for collecting the TN Visa from the U.S Consulate.
- You will be notified of an appointed time to submit your TN Visa application, thus, you’ll have to wait till the appointment time.
- You will have to wait for a while after your interview as the Consulate adjudicates (both reviews and approves) your application.
- Ensure you stay close to any U.S. Consulate. If you don’t have one around, then travel a day ahead of time so you can avoid any delays the following day.
Citizens Of U.S. Applying to Work in Canada
Traditionally, Canadian employers are supposed to get an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) before they can employ foreign workers, and the workers are to obtain a Canadian work permit before they can work in Canada.
However, if you’re from Mexico or the U.S, applying for a job in Canada is less stressful and different from all other countries. This is because of the NAFTA law that exist between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.
Cost Of The TN Visa
The cost of all the fees you are to pay for the TN Visa application process are listed below:
- Filing Fee – Regular $460
- Filing Fee – Premium $1,900
- Visa Pro Processing Time is four (4) business days
Feel free to contact us if you need someone to guide you through the process.