TN Work Permit under NAFTA

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.

A TN visa is similar to an H-1B visa, but the types of professions that qualify for a TN are more limited than those that qualify for H-1B visas. However, there is no quota on the number of TN visas that can be issued in a fiscal year, unlike H-1B visas that generally exhaust the annual visa quota very quickly.

Among the list of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists and teachers.

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 (but not self-employment – see documentation required below).
  • You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question. A bachelor's degree or higher is usually required for all approved professions on the list. If the profession requires licensing, then the applicant must possess the requisite license.

Once TN status is granted, it is good for up to three years, but only for the specific employer for which it was originally requested. Changing employers will require you to start from scratch with a new application. If employment with a single employer is desired for more than three years, it may be renewed indefinitely.

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