NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. It creates special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals to work in the United States. Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional.
How Can Professionals from Mexico and Canada Work in the United States?
Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. under the following conditions:
- Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Profession is on the NAFTA list;
- Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
- Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted;
- Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession
The requirements for applying for citizens of Canada and Mexico, shown below, are different.
Requirements for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. However, a Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and children would need a visa to enable the spouse and children to be able to apply for a visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder. To apply for visa, please see the requirements under the section
Canadian Citizens – Applying for a TN Visa – Required Documentation.
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
Requirements for Mexican Citizens As of January 1, 2004 the procedures were simplified for Mexicans by removing the requirement for petition approval and for filing of a labor condition application. Mexicans are no longer subject to numerical limitation for these professionals. Mexican citizens still require a visa to request admission to the United States.
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, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan can generally be expected. The waiting time for an interview appointment for most applicants is a few weeks or less, but for some embassy consular sections it can be considerably longer. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is now available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. Visit the Embassy Consular Section website where you will apply for your visa to find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other instructions.
Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below:
An application, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed and signed. The DS-156 must be the March 2006 date, electronic “e-form application." Select Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156 to access the electronic version of the DS-156. Important Notice: At certain U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, nonimmigrant visa applicants are now required to apply visa using the new DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, instead of the nonimmigrant application forms DS-156, 157, 158, and other related forms. Learn more and find out which Embassies have converted to the DS-160 Online process.
Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 provides additional information about your 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 Cuba, Syria, Sudan, and Iran must submit the supplemental form. Select Special Processing Procedures to learn more. You should know that a consular officer may require any nonimmigrant visa applicant to complete this form. Here is Form, DS-157.
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 (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico.
Letter of employment in the United States (see below)
Additionally, as nonimmigrants, applicants must demonstrate that:
- That their stay is a temporary period that has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.
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 Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1.
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.
What are the Required Visa Fees?
Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – For current fees for Department of State government services select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is. If there is a fee for issuance for the visa, it is equal as nearly as possible to the fee charged to United States citizens by the applicant’s country of nationality.
Additional Documentation or Qualifying Requirements
Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as NAFTA Professional for TN visa, under U.S. law by:
Education Requirement- The applicant’s employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in NAFTA agreement, chapter 16 appendix 1603.d.1. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
Work Experience Requirement - Document proving to the applicant’s experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.
Is Licensure Required?
Requirements for NAFTA professional do not include licensure. Licensure to practice a given profession in the United States is a post-entry requirement subject to enforcement by the appropriate state or other sub-federal authority.
Spouses and Children
Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join NAFTA Professionals (TN visa holders) may receive a derivative TD visa. Applicants must demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S. They are permitted to study.