People of certain occupations are allowed to enter the US under the non-immigration category TN in accordance with the NAFTA agreement. Experts in certain professions who enter the TN category can work for US employers in two situations:
- Working for a US company on a temporary basis with payment in a manner identical to an H-1B visa.
- Working for a Canadian or Mexican company located in the United States on projects under contracts with US companies.
TN Visa requirements
To obtain TN status, the intended activity must be in the list of occupations specified in the NAFTA agreement, and the foreign citizen must possess the necessary knowledge and skills to work in this specialty. Moreover, a foreign citizen must actually engage in this activity in the United States. Foreign citizens are usually required with a bachelor’s degree or higher, with the exception of alternative list occupations. The combination of experience and education is not equivalent to an advanced degree and is not suitable for the category TN; Foreign citizens, in this case, should consider the possibility of obtaining a visa with the status of H-1.
Terms for TN Visa and duration of stay
A foreign citizen may be allowed to enter the United States according to the status of a TN visa for the time required by the employer, up to 1 year for Mexican nationals and 3 years for Canadian nationals. TN professionals may further receive an increase in the length of stay with an extension of 1 year or 3 years without restriction on the total period of stay.
Restrictions on stay on an H-1B visa (6 years) and for a non-immigrant category L (5 or 7 years) do not apply to foreign citizens of the TN category. In addition, specialists from Canada and Mexico who have already worked for 6 years on an H-1 visa or in the non-immigration category L have the right to immediately receive a TN category, without going abroad for 1 year, as would be required by the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for professionals with an H-1 visa and category L. The only limitation on the length of stay for a non-immigration category TN is the purpose of the stay, which should continue to be temporary.
Category TN Visa
Canadian professionals can enter the United States under the NAFTA Agreement without completing a petition for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as required for category H-1; they can enter the United States, confirming their qualification for TN status to a USCIS inspector at the point of entry. At a minimum, candidates must confirm that they have worked in one of the designated occupations, and that they have the necessary education. Canadian specialists in the United States are assigned non-immigration status TN-1.
Professionals from Mexico need to follow the requirements of the procedure, similar to the H-1B classification procedures. Their employer must complete documents for TN petitions and file with USCIS or if abroad, file with U.S. Consulate to obtain TN Visa.
Below is a list of professions under the NAFTA agreement: the minimum requirements are a bachelor’s degree and / or corresponding professional licenses, unless otherwise specified.
- Accountant (or certified accountant (C.P.A.), accountant (C.A.), certified general accountant (C.G.A.) or certified managing accountant (C.M.A.))
- Agronomist / Tiller
- Animal Specialist
- Architect (or state / local license)
- Analyst in the field of computing (or the degree of additional education or certification and 3 years of work experience)
- Dairy Specialist
- Dentist (doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.), doctor of dentistry (D.M.D.), doctor of dentistry or state license)
- Nutritionist (degree or state / local license)
- Natural Disaster Insurance Adjuster
- Engineer (Degree or State / Local License)
- Forester (degree or state / local license)
- Graphic designer (or additional diploma or 3 years of work experience)
- Hotel manager (must have a degree in hospitality business management and 3 years in the hotel / restaurant business)
- Industrial Designer (or additional diploma or 3 years of work experience)
- Interior designer (or diploma of additional education or 3 years of work experience)
- Surveyor (or state / local / federal license)
- Landscape architect
- Lawyer (bachelor of civil law (B.C.L.), doctor of jurisprudence (J.D.), bachelor of law (L.L.B.), bachelor of civil law (L.L.L.) or member of the state / local bar association)
- Librarian (Bachelor’s degree in Library Science (B.L.S.), for which another bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite, or a Master’s degree in Library Science (M.L.S.))
- Management consultant (or 5 years working in a consultancy in a specialty area related to consulting services)
- Medical technologist laboratory technician / technician of the medical laboratory (or a diploma of additional education or 3 years of work experience)
- Nurse, graduate (must also have a state / local license)
- Medico-social worker (or state / local license)
- Pharmacist (or state / local license)
- Medic [only teaching or conducting research] (MD degree (M.D.) or state / local license)
- Physical Therapist / Physical Therapy Specialist (or state / local license)
- Agronomist breeder
- Poultry breeder
- Psychologist (must also have a state / local license)
- Pasture Specialist / Pasture Protection Specialist
- Health Therapist
- Researcher (work must take place in the US institution of additional higher education)
- Technical specialist / technologist (must work as an assistant specialist in one of the following areas: agricultural science, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; must have theoretical knowledge of the discipline; have the ability to solve practical problems in the discipline or apply the basic principles of the discipline to theoretical and applied scientific research)
- Social worker
- Agronomist-soil scientist
- Forest manager / Arborist
- Teacher (work must be done at a college, university, or US seminary)
- Technical writer (or additional diploma or certificate and 3 years of work experience)
- Town planner
- Veterinarian (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.M.V.) or state / local license)
- Consultant for the search and selection of work