TN Visas

Information for Hiring Departments and Current/Prospective TN Employees

TN (Trade-NAFTA) is a visa status available to Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis in a professional-level job under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Who is eligible for TN status?

The TN visa category requires that the applicant:

  • Is a citizen of Canada or Mexico (landed immigrants or permanent residents do not qualify);
  • Enters the U.S. on a temporary basis; and
  • Possesses the minimum qualifications of one of the professions specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty. The Appendix also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation.

Some of the TN categories most applicable in a university setting include the following:

  • College and university teachers
  • Scientists
  • Research Assistant
  • Scientific Technician/Technologist
  • Computer Systems Analyst (note that this category specifically does not include programmers)
  • Economist
  • Engineer
  • Accountant
  • Librarian
  • Graphic Designer
  • Medical/Allied Professions

Because of the temporary nature of TN employment, TN is not an appropriate visa status for tenured or tenure-track faculty.

Although the regulations do not limit the total number of years you may remain in the U.S., TN is a temporary, nonimmigrant status. You must establish to the satisfaction of USCIS that the employment opportunity is both temporary and short-term.

TN for Canadian Citizens entering the U.S. in TN Status

Canadian citizens are exempt from the requirement to obtain a visa; instead, Canadian citizens apply directly with an immigration officer at the time s/he wishes to enter the U.S. A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry with all of the following:

  • Request for admission under TN status to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration officer;
  • Employment Letter - Evidence of professional employment. See Employment Letter below; 
  • Proof of professional qualifications, such as transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and/or records of previous employment; 
  • Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements; 
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship- Canadian citizens may present a passport, as visas are not required, or they may provide secondary evidence, such as a birth certificate. However, Canadian citizens traveling to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid passport at the port-of-entry; 
  • Fee of U.S. $50

More information for Canadians about entering the U.S. in TN status:

TN for Mexican Citizens entering the U.S:

Mexican Citizens - Applying for a TN Visa - Required Documentation

Mexican citizens may apply at consular sections around the world for a NAFTA professional (TN) visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for most visa applicants.  Interviews are generally by appointment only. As part of the visa interview, a quick, two-digit, ink-free fingerprint scan can generally be expected. The Embassy Consular Section website where the visa will be applied for should provide information on how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other instructions.

Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit the following forms, documentation, and fees:

  • An application, Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed and signed. Select Non-immigrant Visa Application Form DS-156 to access the electronic and non-electronic versions of the DS-156.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit the electronic version of the DS-156. The DS-156 must be the current version on the Department of State website.
  • $100 processing fee for the Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-156)
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 provides additional information about travel plans. Submission of this completed form is required for all male applicants between 16-45 years of age. It is also required for all applicants from state sponsors of terrorism age 16 and over, irrespective of gender, without exception. For this purpose, nationals of the following countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism, including North Korea , Cuba , Syria , Sudan , Iran , and Libya must submit the supplemental form. Consular officers may require any nonimmigrant visa applicant to complete this form. 
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States. 
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Non-immigrant Photograph Requirements. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico. 
  • Letter of employment in the United States (see below)

Additionally, as non-immigrants, applicants must demonstrate that:

  • That their stay is a temporary period that has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.

For more information on obtaining a TN visa in Mexico:
U.S. Embassy in Mexico
Or find your consulate

Extension of TN status

There is no limitation on the number of years an individual may be in TN status. However, it is necessary to establish that the position is temporary.

An extension of TN status can be obtained in two ways:

  • The TN employee travels to the border and is readmitted in TN status based on a new letter of employment
  • The employer files an I-129 petition with USCIS before the employee’s current TN period has expired. Provided that the petition is timely filed with USCIS, the individual in TN status may continue to work for 240 days beyond his or her current expiration date.

More Information

Please see the Department of State’s information on the TN, the Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Visa

The entire list of TN professions and respective degree requirements may be found on the NAFTA Appendix 1603.D.1 list of professions.

Employment Letter

The employer in the U.S. must provide to the applicant a Letter of Employment in the United States. The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA, Appendix 1603.D.1 list of professions.

The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted.

An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:

  • Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged;
  • Purpose of entry; 
  • Anticipated length of stay; 
  • Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
  • Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and 
  • Arrangements for pay. 
  • Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.

For faculty;

Please see the template for Term Faculty Appointment on the Statewide Labor and Employee Relations website

For staff;

Please see the template for Staff Term Appointment letter or Research Associate Term Appointment letter on the Statewide Labor and Employee Relations website