NAFTA and TN Visas
NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement (Français: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, ALÉNA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral rules-based trade bloc in North America. The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The TN Visa
As a result of NAFTA, Canadian citizens have certain advantages under U.S. immigration law. Canadians do not need to go to a U.S. consulate to enter the United States as a tourist. The B-2 visa (visit for “pleasure”) is issued at the border and grants admission for a maximum of 6 months. If a Canadian citizen wishes to engage in employment or other activity not allowed by the tourist visa, they must apply in the same fashion as other nationalities. Canadian professionals, however, have the opportunity to pursue the TN visa. The TN visa is a special work visa available to Canadians.
Most TN visa occupational categories require an educational credential. Almost all require a bachelor’s degree, while some also offer an alternative for possession of a post-secondary diploma and three years of experience. An individual may qualify for a TN visa without a degree or diploma in three categories:
Immigration inspectors routinely require a specific degree in the occupational field in order to qualify for TN visa status, often contrary to the government’s own guidance on the issue. U.S. immigration memoranda state that the degree possessed by the TN applicant “should be in the field or in a closely related field.”
TN applicants who possess a degree from an educational institution outside of the United States, Canada, or Mexico must obtain an academic evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service that specializes in such evaluations. Unlike the H-1B category, an applicant for a TN cannot combine education and experience and obtain a degree equivalency in order to meet the bachelor degree requirements for a TN. Where a TN occupational category requires a bachelor’s or licenciatura degree, an individual may satisfy this requirement by possessing a degree from an educational institution outside of the NAFTA countries (from a college or university outside the U.S., Canada, or Mexico).
TN Visa Occupational Categories
The TN visa occupational categories are:
An individual may apply for TN visa status under NAFTA in 1 of the 63 occupations set forth in NAFTA. The NAFTA TN laws and regulations do not specifically define the types of positions or job duties permissible under the TN occupational categories. A citizen of Canada or Mexico may enter the U.S. under TN visa status “to engage in business activities at a professional level” in one of the professions set forth in Appendix 1603.D.1. INA § 214 (e); 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (a). For example, a position may qualify for TN visa status under a given category if in order to successfully complete the duties of the position, an individual must possess one of the credentials listed for that category. If a position requires a bachelor’s degree, then the position should be eligible for TN visa status under that category.
Documents for TN visa application for land or air port-of-entry applications:
Additional documentation to submit if filing through the UCIS:
TN Visa vs. TN status
Individuals new to U.S. immigration law and unfamiliar with the NAFTA provisions for Canadian and Mexican citizens often confuse a TN visa with TN non-immigrant status. There is a significant difference between a TN visa and TN non-immigrant status. In order to understand the differences, speak with our Seattle WA and Vancouver, BC immigrations attorneys regarding your specific needs.
A Canadian individual must be coming to the U.S. to work temporarily in one of the professions listed in the appendix to the North American Free Trade Agreement. These are the listed professions:
In order to pursue a TN visa an applicant must have evidence that they have the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Schedule 2 NAFTA fields listed below. Call or email us with any questions that you may have. We are always happy to let you speak directly with a NAFTA immigration lawyer.
|PROFESSION||MINIMUM EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS|
|Accountant||Baccalaureate Degree; or C.P.A, C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.|
|Architect||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Computer Systems Analyst||Baccalaureate Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate and 3 years experience|
|Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster||Baccalaureate Degree and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims|
|Engineer||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Forester||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Graphic Designer||Baccalaureate Degree; or post-secondary diploma and three years experience|
|Hotel Manager||Baccalaureate Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate in hotel/restaurant management and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management|
|Industrial Designer||Baccalaureate Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience|
|Interior Designer||Baccalaureate Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience|
|Land Surveyor||Baccalaureate Degree or state/provincial/federal license|
|Landscape Architect||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Lawyer (including Notary in the province of Quebec)||L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., degree; or membership in a state/provincial bar|
|Librarian||M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate Degree was prerequisite)|
|Management Consultant||Baccalaureate Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant , or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement|
|Mathematician (including statistician)||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Range Manager/Range Conservationist||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Scientific Technician/Technologist||Possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research|
|Social Worker||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Silviculturist (including forestry)||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Teacher: College||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Teacher: Seminary||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Teacher: University||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Technical Publications Writer||Baccalaureate Degree, or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience|
|Urban Planner (including Geographer)||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Vocational Counselor||Baccalaureate Degree|
Credentials: Medical Field
In order to pursue a TN visa an applicant must have evidence that they have the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Schedule 2 NAFTA fields listed below. Call or email us with any questions that you may have. We are always happy to let you speak directly with a NAFTA immigration attorney. To view credential requirements for scientists, go to the Credentials: Science tab.
|PROFESSION||MINIMUM EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS|
|Dentist||D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia|
|Dietician||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Medical Lab Technologist (Canada)|
Medical Technologist (Mexico and U.S.)
|Baccalaureate Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate and 3 years experience|
|Occupational Therapist||Baccalaureate Degree; or state provincial license|
|Pharmacist||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Physician (teaching or research only)||M.D., Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license|
|Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Psychologist||State/provincial license; degree|
|Recreational Therapist||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Registered Nurse||State/provincial license degree|
|Veterinarian||D.V.M., D.M.V., or Doctor en Veterinaria;
or state/provincial license
In order to pursue a TN visa an applicant must have evidence that they have the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Schedule 2 NAFTA fields listed below. Call or email us with any questions that you may have. We are always happy to let you speak directly with a NAFTA immigration lawyer. To view credential requirements for professions in the medical field go to the Credentials: Medical tab.
The minimum education requirement is a Baccalaureate Degree for each of the following professions:
Agricultural (Agronomist), Animal Breeder, Animal Scientist, Apiculturist, Astronomer, Biochemist, Chemist, Dairy Scientist, Entomologist, Epidemiologist, Geneticist, Geochemist, Geophysicist, Horticulturist, Meteorologist, Pharmacologist, Oceanographer, Physicist, Plant Breeder, Poultry, Scientist, Soil Scientist, Zoologist.
If you are serious about getting legal assistance a consultation is the best place to start. Spend up to a full hour with an immigration attorney to discuss the details of your case, get answers to your questions, work through complex issues and supporting documents and plan an immigration strategy for obtaining benefits.