Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Select NAFTA to visit the Office of the United States Trade Representative website and learn more.
The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers. Permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not able to apply for TN visas to work as NAFTA professionals. Select TN NAFTA Professionals on the USCIS website to learn more about TN nonimmigrant status.
Canadians and Mexicans may be eligible to work in the United States as NAFTA professionals under the following conditions:
With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, an alternative to a bachelor's degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree. For a complete list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials, see Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16.
Note: Requirements for Canadians and Mexicans are different, as explained below.
To perform this type of work in the United States, a visa is not required for a Canadian citizen entering as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified Canadian TN visa applicant upon request.
A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply for TN nonimmigrant status at a U.S. port-of-entry. Learn about these requirements on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) websites. More information about receiving TN status without applying for a visa is also available on the U.S. Embassy Ottawa website.
When is a NAFTA Professional (TN) visa required for a Canadian citizen? A Canadian who resides in a third country with a non-Canadian spouse and/or child(ren), and who plans to enter the United States as a NAFTA professional with family member(s), will need a TN visa in order for the family member(s) to be eligible to apply for derivative TD nonimmigrant visa(s).
Mexican citizens require TN visas to request admission to the United States in this status.
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.
|If you are age:||Then an interview is:|
|13 and younger||Generally not required|
|14-79||Required (some exceptions for renewals)|
|80 and older||Generally not required|
You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply.
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
A consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a TN visa. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of your intent to depart the United States after employment as a NAFTA professional. Evidence of your family ties may be sufficient to show your intent to return to your home country.
Licensure - Proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States is not required to receive a TN visa, but you should consider presenting such proof along with your job offer letter and other documentation in support of your TN visa application. Upon arriving in the United States, state or non-Federal authorities may require you to present proof of licensure to practice a given profession.
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply.
During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.
When the visa is approved, you will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.
Review Visa Denials for detailed information about visa ineligibilities, denials, and waivers.
Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above).
You may reapply if you believe you have additional evidence of your qualifications for a student (F or M) visa, or you believe your circumstances have changed. Review Visa Denials to learn more.
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.