Immigration Blog

Frequently Asked Questions about the TN Visa

By Bill at September 19, 2010 15:22
Filed Under: Visa Knowledge

Who qualifies for a TN visa?

The TN visa is available for Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States.  Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a citizen of a NAFTA country may work in a professional occupation in another NAFTA country if:  

1) the profession is on the NAFTA Occupations list; and,

2) the foreign worker meets the specific requirements for that profession, which is shown in the NAFTA Occupations list;

3) the prospective position requires someone in that professional capacity; and,

4) the foreign worker will be employed by a U.S. employer.

Can my spouse and children come to the United States if I get a TN visa?

Your spouse and your unmarried, minor children are entitled to come to the United States in TD visa status.  Your wife and children are not able to accept employment in the United States in this status.  If your spouse would like to work, he or she would have to qualify for a separate work visa.

Can my spouse or children attend school under TD?

Yes, your family members may attend school in the United States.

How can I receive a TN visa as a Canadian citizen?

Canadians seeking a TN visa may apply at a U.S. port of entry.  You must provide the following:

  • A request for "TN" status;
  • A copy of your college degree and employment records which establish qualification for the prospective job;
  • A letter from your prospective U.S.-based employer offering you a job in the United States, which is included on the professional job series (NAFTA list); and,
  • Payment of U.S. $50.00.

The "TN" status will only be granted if the period of stay is temporary.

How can I receive a TN visa as a Mexican citizen?

Mexican citizens seeking a TN visa must take the following steps:

  • Your prospective employer must file a labor condition application;
  • Your employer must file a Petition For Non-Immigrant Worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
  • After the petition has been approved, the alien must apply for a non-immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico.

The "TN" status will only be granted if the period of stay is temporary.

What documents will I need to be admitted into the United States in TN status as a Mexican citizen?

When you enter the United States, you will need to provide:

  • TN approval notice issued by the BCIS (Form I-797)
  • TN visa issued by a U.S. Consulate based on Form I-797 approval notice)
  • Mexican passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the end date of the I-797 validity period


What will be given to me to show my work status in the U.S.?

The CBP border inspector will give you a Form I-94, Entry/Departure Document, marked with the date and place of admission, a notation of TN (with Multiple Entry for Canadian citizens) and an expiration date either 12 months away (for Canadian citizens), or matching the I-797 validity date (for Mexican citizens).

Can I change employers with a TN?

Yes, but your new employer must get the TN approved by the USCIS before you begin your employment.  Canadian citizens may also submit a new TN application package showing the new employer at the border, as described above.

Can I start work with a new employer once the TN petition is filed with the USCIS?

No, "portability" does not apply to people in TN visa status. An actual approval notice or new Form I-94 (for Canadians) must be issued by the USCIS.

What if I am laid off by my employer?

Just as with any other nonimmigrant work visa, you must depart the United States if you are not employed with the sponsoring employer.  You may not stay indefinitely in TN visa status to locate other employment.  You may be eligible to change your status to give you additional time in the United States to look for employment.

How long is the TN visa valid?

The TN visa is valid for one year terms.  You can extend your TN visa status for additional one year terms, but must prove that you continue to maintain a foreign residence and do not intend to stay permanent in the United States.

Can I get extensions of TN status?

Yes, in increments of one year.

How do I extend my stay in TN status?

Requirements for Canadians and Mexicans wishing to renew their "TN" status are not the same.

Canadian citizens have two options.  First, you may have your employer file an I-129 form at the Nebraska Service Center. This option does not require leaving the United States. Second, Canadians may return to Canada to re-apply at the port of entry with the same documentation that is required for an original application.

Mexican citizens must have your employer renew your labor condition application and file an I-129 with the Nebraska Service Center in order to extend your stay.

Is there a limit to the number of TN extensions?

No, but the longer you remain on a TN, the more likely it is that BCBP at the port of entry, will question your temporary intent and may deny you entry despite having an unexpired, multiple entry I-94 card.

Can I apply for a green card while working with TN status?

Yes, but there is no "dual-intent" for TN visas.  This means that you must continue to maintain a permanent address in Canada or Mexico and prove that you have the intent to return permanently to Canada while pursuing the green card.  This can be difficult to prove particularly after your employer has filed the first stage of green card processing (i.e., an Alien Employment Certification) on your behalf.  Many TNs choose to change status to H1B in order to avoid problems in traveling on a TN during the green card process.

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