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"TN" Work Visas For Canadian and Mexican Nationals

 

 

The “TN”, or “Trade NAFTA”, non-immigrant visa category was created by the North American Free-Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) in 1994. NAFTA covers citizens, not landed immigrants or permanent residents, of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. A TN professional may be admitted into the United States for a period of time not exceeding three years; but this stay can be extended indefinitely in yearly increments.

 

IMPORTANT: The "TN" visa category has many benefits not available under the H-1 program (see "Benefits" section below).  However, the main benefit to a company is the fact that the TN cannot exceed the number of visas available since there is an unlimited number of TN visas available.  As such, the TN visa category is a valuable resource for employers who cannot hire H-1B workers because the H-1B caps have been reached.

 

However, in examining the usefulness of the TN process, an employer must realize that the range of jobs available to be sponsored under the TN process is limited.  Before anything else, an employer or potential employee must determine whether a TN visa is available for the position in question (see "TN Occupations" section).

 

  • Minimum Qualifications

     

    In order to qualify for a TN visa, the position for which a Canadian or Mexican citizen is being sponsored must be one listed under NAFTA, and the Canadian or Mexican citizen must possess the credentials specified under NAFTA as necessary to qualify for the position. This is usually a bachelor's degree.  However, some positions allow for experience in addition to education (see "TN Occupations" section).

  • The "TN" Application Process

     

    • Canadian citizens usually obtain a TN visa at any Class A port of entry, as well as at a number of international airports. Minimal documentation is required to apply for a TN visa at the border. However, it is important to note that many qualified applicants fail to receive a TN visa because the letter of support and supporting documentation are not properly presented.

    • Mexican citizens must apply at the U.S. Embassy or consulate nearest the applicant’s place of residence.

    • TN professionals already in the United States may apply for TN status by filing a TN petition with the USCIS. Petitions filed with the USCIS can be filed under the standard approach or the “premium processing” approach. Under the premium processing approach, the USCIS will review a TN petition within two weeks of filing. Note that this does not mean that the USCIS will decide a case within two weeks, although most cases are decided within this time frame.
  • "TN" Occupations

     

    Following is a list of occupations for which a Canadian or Mexican citizen can obtain a TN visa. Also included are the credentials needed to qualify for each occupation.

     

    General Occupations

     

    • Accountant: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.
    • Architect: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license
    • Computer Systems Analyst: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience
    • Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a party, or an independent claims adjuster): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims.
    • Economist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Engineer: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license
    • Forester: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license
    • Graphic Designer: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience
    • Hotel Manager: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree in hotel/restaurant management; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management
    • Industrial Designer: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience
    • Interior Designer: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience
    • Land Surveyor: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial/federal license
    • Landscape Architect: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Lawyer (including Notary in the province of Quebec): LL.B., J.D., LL.L., B.C.L. or licenciatura degree (five years); or membership in a state-provincial bar
    • Librarian: M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another baccalaureate
    •  or licenciatura degree was a prerequisite)
    • Management Consultant: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement
    • Mathematician (including Statistician): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Range Manager/Range Conservationist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Scientific Technician/Technologist (a business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics): possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research
    • Social Worker: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Teacher (College, Seminary or University): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Technical Publications Writer: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience
    • Urban Planner (including Geographer): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Vocational Counselor: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree

     

    Medical/Allied Professional Occupations

     

    • Dentist: D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license
    • Dietitian: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license
    • Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States) (a business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to perform in a laboratory, chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic or bacteriological tests and analyses for diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience
    • Nutritionist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Occupational Therapist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license
    • Pharmacist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license
    • Physician (teaching or research only): M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license
    • Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree; or state/provincial license
    • Psychologist: state/provincial license; or licenciatura degree
    • Recreational Therapist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Registered Nurse: state/provincial license; or licenciatura degree
    • Veterinarian: D.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license

     

    Scientific Occupations

     

    • Agriculturist (including Agronomist): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Animal Breeder: baccalaureate or licenciatura [degree]
    • Animal Scientist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Apiculturist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Astronomer: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Biochemist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Biologist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Chemist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Dairy Scientist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Entomologist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Epidemiologist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Geneticist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Geologist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Geochemist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Horticulturist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Meteorologist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Pharmacologist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada): baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Plant Breeder: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Poultry Scientist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Soil Scientist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
    • Zoologist: baccalaureate or licenciatura degree
  • Family Members

     

    The spouse and unmarried minor children of a TN applicant may be admitted as TD non-immigrants. If the spouse and children accompany the TN applicant and apply for a visa at the border, then no separate filing fee is required. If, however, the spouse and children enter the United States after the TN has already been admitted, or are filing from within the United States, a separate filing must be made either at the border or with the USCIS to obtain TD status.

     

    Family members of the TN applicant are not authorized to work in the United States unless they have an independent basis for employment authorization. However, the family members may attend school.

 

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