TN (Treaty NAFTA) Visas are available only to citizens of Canada or Mexico. We refer to it as a “Visa” however only Mexican applicants require a formal Visa to enter the U.S. in TN status. The TN Visa is a special class of visa that is available because of NAFTA and the specific occupations covered are listed in Appendix 1603.D.1. of the Agreement. The list covers major occupations including engineers (not limited to software), computer systems analysts, and Management Consultants.
Most positions require a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in order to qualify for a TN Visa, but some, like the Computer Systems Analyst allow three year diplomas, and still others can qualify by virtue of a special license. Appendix 1603.D.1 also specifies the requirements for each position.
An initial application may be granted for up to 3 years and the TN Visa is renewable indefinitely (assuming no questions regarding non-immigrant intent are raised by CBP or USCIS).
Unlike applicants for other statuses that require USCIS approval then Visa issuance, there is no wait period before a Canadian employee can start working at the U.S. company.
The TN Visa is the most cost-efficient as there are no filing fees – Canadian citizens pay $56 at the land border or $50 at pre-flight clearance; Mexican Citizens pay the $50 and any supplemental visa fee for issuance of their TN Visa.
The TN Visa is a temporary intent status, meaning that an employee is advised to switch to an L or H if they were interested in becoming a Legal Permanent Resident.
Employees without the necessary education (or equivalent) do not qualify for a TN Visa. And if the occupation is not on the list, then a TN Visa is not available and other options need to be explored.
Processing at the border can be unpredictable at times, where officers can sometimes deny applications or limit the length of service permitted.
Procedure for TN Visas
1) Gather documents from employer and employee (job description, resume, education documents, and biographical passport page);
2) Prepare G-28 and employer support letter for signature;
3) Prepare application packet for employee (original application and 2 copies) and courier directly to employee;
4) Brief employee via telephone call before making the application
5) Canadian Citizens – Apply directly at the border or at pre-flight clearance
Mexican Citizens – Will need to make an appointment at their local consulate to make the application as a visa is required
Upon entry into the U.S., the employee will show their passport stamp which indicated TN status and the validity. If entering the U.S. at a land border, a paper I-94 will still be issued and stapled into the employee’s passport. For all flights into the U.S., an electronic I-94 is available to view and print at www.cbp.gov/i94
** This memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual situation. **