Everything Employers Should Know About TN Visa Program

Learn everything agricultural employers should know about the TN visa program to hire skilled professionals for skilled job positions.
The TN Visa allows Mexican and Canadian nationals to come to the United States for specialized employment positions such as those found within the agricultural industry.
Agricultural businesses regularly seek dependable and skilled workers using U.S. temporary visa programs such as the nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional visa (TN), which is available to citizens of Mexico and Canada.
With a TN visa, Mexican and Canadian citizens can come to the United States to work in specialty positions. However, the TN visa process for an employer often seems daunting, and many are plagued with questions. Who is eligible for a TN visa? What are the fees? Where do employers submit applications?
What is a TN Visa?
A TN visa is a nonimmigrant employment visa that allows Mexican and Canadian citizens to work in the United States in very specific professional occupations. The TN status was established as a result of an arrangement made under the U.S. – Mexico – Canada (USMCA) agreement, (previously known as the North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA).The agreement was developed to foster economic and trade relationships between the three countries. In addition, the agreement has been a boon to agricultural recruiting for farmers and businesses seeking skilled professionals.
A TN authorization enables certain qualified Mexican and Canadian citizens to stay and work within the United States as long as the job falls under the pre-approved list of NAFTA professions. With a TN status, the visa recipient can stay for up to three years in the U.S. and renew indefinitely – as long as the recipient still has employment.
TN Visa Professions
To obtain a TN Visa, an applicant must work in a NAFTA approved profession. Although an applicant’s job title need not match the NAFTA approved profession list verbatimly, each job’s requirements must still closely resemble the NAFTA requirement to increase the odds of visa approval. A background in one of the required professions and verifiable educational degree (typically a bachelor’s degree) associated with one of the professional categories is needed.

NAFTA’s Advisor Manual lists the following professions for a TN visa as indicated below: 

  • Accountant
  • Architect
  • Lawyer
  • Research assistant
  • Teacher
  • Urban planner
  • Vocational planner
  • Social worker
  • Dietitian
  • Nutritionist
  • Mathematician
  • Psychologist
  • Engineer
  • Scientist
  • Interior designer
  • Industry designer
  • Economist
  • Silviculturist
  • Graphic designer
  • Landscape architect
  • Land surveyor
  • Forester
  • Scientific technologist
  • Hotel manager
  • Animal breeder
  • Librarian
  • Technical Publications Writer
  • Agriculturist, including agronomist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Animal Breeder (baccalaureate degree)
  • Animal Scientist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Agriculturist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Astronomer (baccalaureate degree)
  • Biochemist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Biologist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Chemist (baccalaureate degree)/li>
  • Dairy Scientist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Entomologist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Epidemiologist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Geneticist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Geochemist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Geologist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Geophysicist, including Oceanographer in Mexico or U.S. (baccalaureate degree)
  • Horticulturist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Meteorologist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Pharmacologist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Physicist, including Oceanographer in Canada (baccalaureate degree)
  • Plant Breeder (baccalaureate degree)
  • Poultry Science (baccalaureate degree)
  • Soil Scientist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Zoologist (baccalaureate degree)
Medical professional:
  • Physician, teaching and/or research only (M.D. or state/provincial license)
  • Dentist (D.D.S., D.M.D., or state/provincial license)
  • Occupational Therapist (baccalaureate degree or state/provincial license)
  • Pharmacist (baccalaureate degree or state/provincial license)
  • Physio/Physical Therapist (baccalaureate degree or state/provincial license)
  • Recreational Therapist (baccalaureate degree)
  • Registered Nurse (state or provincial license)
  • Veterinarian (D.V.M., D.M.V., or state/provincial license)
  • Medical Technologist
Work experience in the following fields coupled with some form of a higher education degree is also often acceptable to gain a TN visa. However, the work experience must be related to the position being offered by the employer.
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Meteorology
  • Physics
  • Astronomy
  • Agricultural sciences
  • Biology
  • Forestry
TN Visa for Agricultural Industry Professionals
Agricultural businesses such as farms, horticultural growers, and others can use the TN visa petition to bring in skilled professionals into the US to assist in bringing food to the table. In such circumstances, agricultural businesses seek talented job candidates to fill their need because such businesses are having a tough time finding qualified candidates to fill open positions due to highly competitive recruiting and hiring processes.
Common agricultural careers filled by a TN visa holders include:
  • Animal breeder
  • Plant breeder
  • Dairy scientist
  • Soil scientist
  • Horticulturist
  • Poultry scientist
  • Engineer
  • Scientific technician/technologist
  • Veterinarian
Agricultural executive recruiting regularly works with such professionals to meet the needs of agriculture businesses, companies, farms, dairies, and animal breeders.
TN Visa Application Process
The application process for the TN visa differs between Canadians and Mexicans, although both visas require that you establish a non-immigrant intent when you apply. This process shows immigration officials that applicants do not plan on staying in the U.S. permanently and that each intends to eventually return to their home country. The applicant is simply entering the U.S. for professional reasons.
Canadian TN Visa Application
Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S embassy or consulate. Canadians can establish their TN eligibility and obtain a TN status at the time they are admitted into the U.S. The process is very straightforward and requires that each applicant present all required documentation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer located at a designated port of entry. The process can also be conducted at certain pre-flight inspection stations.
The following documents must be presented to the CBP officers to gain a TN visa:
Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • A letter issued by the prospective employer that outlines the details of the job and your function in a professional capacity. It should say where you will be working, the length of your stay, the purpose of the employment and any educational qualifications;
  • An evaluation of the position’s Canadian and U.S. job credentials;
  • Applicable fees.
Your prospective agricultural employer can also apply for your TN visa on your behalf. If you opt to have your future employer apply for your TN visa, then your employer must submit Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Upon approval of the Form I-120, you can then apply to the CBP for admittance into the U.S. as a TN nonimmigrant. The following documentation is required and must be presented to the CBP officer at the designated port of entry or the pre-flight inspection station:
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • Approval Notice for Form I-129 issued by the USCIS (often the CBP officer will ask questions about eligibility)
  • An Inspection fees
Mexican TN Visa Application
Mexican TN visa applicants must apply for a TN visa before entering the U.S. Each applicant should apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate. There are several steps, and the order of steps must be followed. In some situations, how the steps are completed vary spending on the various embassies and consulates.
Complete the Visa Application Form (Online)

Form DS-160 can be completed online, and once you have completed the form, be sure to print the confirmation page. You’ll be required to take the confirmation page with you to the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. Typically, you’ll need a photograph to complete your Form DS-160.

Once your TN visa is approved, you can apply to be admitted at a designated CBP port of entry or at a designated pre-flight inspection station.

Schedule an Interview
After completing Form DS-160, you’ll need to schedule an interview appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate. If possible, try to schedule the interview early in the day because the wait time is often long. Many locations allow you to check the wait time prior to your interview so you’ll have a better idea of how long the process will take.
Preparing for the Interview
You’ll be required to pay an application fee for your TN visa and also pay an issuance fee. Payment for the issuance fee depends on your nationality, though in some situations, you might not be required to pay the issuance fee.
Bring the following documents with you to your interview at the U.S embassy or consulate:
  • Your passport, which must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned period of stay.
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Receipt for your payment of the application fee
  • A photograph if you did not upload your photo when filling out Form DS-160 online.
  • Letter of employment or contract issued by your employer proving that you have a valid job offer.
  • The letter must include the following information:
§ Purpose of your entry into the United States
§ Description outlining your employment responsibilities
§ Length of your stay in the U.S.
§ Your educational requirements and credentials for the job.
§ Pay arrangements
§ Include any documents that prove you meet the minimum requirements set forth by the NAFTA profession.
In some situations, the Embassy or Consulate might request additional documents following your interview or to further prove your eligibility for the position.
Immigration Interview
Once your application is approved, you’ll need to participate in an immigration interview to move your TN visa application process forward.
Spouses and Minor Children of a TN Visa Holder
Spouses and children under the age of 21 (known as TN-dependents or TD) are also eligible for entry with the primary TN visa holder. There are differences between how Canadians and Mexicans can enter the U.S. Minors cannot work in the U.S., but they are allowed to attend U.S. schools.
Canadian Dependents
Canadians entering on a TN are not required to obtain visas for their spouse or minor children before entry. All that is required is proof of Canadian citizenship at a port of entry and proof of their relationship to the TN visa holder. They can then enter the United States under the TN category. Oftentimes, a passport, marriage certificate, or birth certificate are required to demonstrate a relationship.
Mexican Dependents

Spouses and children of a Mexican TN visa holder must apply for a TD non-immigrant visa at a consulate or U.S embassy before entering the United States. They are typically required to have a valid passport, and pay the TD visa application fee.

In addition, they also must prove their relationship to the TN visa worker and provide proof showing the TN visa worker’s status. Acceptable proof showing a relationship with the TN visa holder includes a marriage certificate or birth certificate.

Concerns Involving the TN Visa

As with any government program, there are always concerns. Unlike other visa types, the TN visa program saves agricultural businesses and other U.S. companies a sizable amount of money because they do not need to pay excessive fees.

There is no requirement to spend an excessive amount of time trying to hire US. workers to fill the position before hiring a skilled foreign professional. Also, unlike other visa types, there is no cap on the number of TN visas issued per year.

The TN visa process is very straightforward and does not require an excessive amount of time to hire a worker using the program. Agricultural recruiters quickly meet the labor needs of farmers and agricultural companies using the visa program. However, unlike the other visa programs, the TN does not afford the protection to the foreign professionals of guaranteeing prevailing wage.

FAQ Questions Concerning a TN Visa
Below are a few frequently asked questions concerning a TN Visa
How long can you stay in the U.S. on a TN Visa?
The maximum amount of time you can stay in the United States on a TN visa is three years. However, on paper, a TN visa is extendable in three-year increments indefinitely as long as the visa holder satisfies all necessary requirements.
There are many things that can influence the time you’ll be allowed to stay in the U.S. with a TN visa. Under current laws and regulations, you can live and work in the U.S. for three years with a TN visa, but immigration officials determine how long the TN visa is valid.
The time period allotted for your stay is determined when you apply for the visa and is typically based on how long your employment in the U.S. is projected to last. For this reason, it is important that the employment letter you present states the employment time period accurately.
How can I extend the TN Visa?
A TN visa holder can extend his/her TN visa in one of two ways. First, the applicant’s employer can file Form I-129 prior to the expiration of the worker’s current visa, while the applicant remains in the U.S. The second method is via a U.S. port of entry –TN visas can be extended at a US Port of Entry. If renewing via the port of entry, an updated offer of employment along with other supporting documents must be submitted.
Can I change employers if I’m in the U.S. with a TN visa?
Yes, you can change employers if you have a TN visa. The new employer will need to obtain a TN visa approved by the USCIS before you can start working for them. A Canadian citizen can also submit a new TN application page that shows the new employer.
Agricultural work is often seasonal or dependent on the whims of Mother Nature, so it is common for TN visa holders to switch agricultural employers when working in the U.S.
What are the Benefits of the TN Visa?
Below are a few benefits of the TN visa:
Length of Stay
A TN visa lets you stay in the U.S. for up to three years. There is no limit to how many times you can extend your TN visa. With the TN visa, you can legally stay and live in the U.S. for many years without worry as long as you continue to extend your visa when required and your employment position remains active.
No Quota
Unlike the H2B or H1B visa, there is no quota for a TN visa. This is a huge bonus for the visa holders and also for the agricultural business.
No Required Labor Certification
With TN visa classifications, agricultural businesses are not required to get an approved Labor Certification. The Labor Certification is required for other visa types (i.e H2B) to certify that the U.S. agricultural employer was unable to find suitable US workers to fill the position for which they were hiring.
Most agricultural businesses do not like the process of getting a Labor Certification because it takes an excessive amount of time and effort. Luckily, the TN visa requires no Labor Certification so the ag business or farmer can offer you the job without trying to hire within the U.S. first.
Premium Processing
The TN visa is eligible for Premium Processing which is offered by the USCIS. It means that the USCIS will answer your petition within 15 days or less for an additional fee. This is ideal if you or your future employer wants you to start work quickly in the U.S. and you do not want to wait an excessive amount of time for approval.

In order to expedite the TV visa process you can apply for premium processing using form I-907 Request for Premium processing service. The person filing for the visa or the recruiter/representative are allowed to fill out the form. If you filed an I-140 or I-129 at a USCIS service center then you’ll need to fill out the I-907 at the same location.

What are the Requirements for a TN Visa?
To qualify for a TN visa, you must meet the following requirements:
  • Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • Have a valid job offer to work in the United States (the TN does not allow self-employment. You are also not allowed to start your own business while in the U.S. )
  • The job must be listed on the TN occupational list
  • Satisfy the professional and educational requirements of the position
  • Need to show non-immigrant intent
How do you satisfy the educational and professional requirements of the TN visa?
In order to qualify for a TN visa, you must show that you satisfy the professional and educational requirements of the US job being offered. Typically, you will be required to have at least a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree. A 3-year degree can qualify as a baccalaureate, so it does not have to be a 4-year degree to meet the requirement. The degree must be in the field of your TN occupation or a related field.
If your degree, diploma, or certificate is earned outside the US, Canada, or Mexico then you’ll need to submit a credentials evaluation that proves your certificate, degree or diploma is comparable to a Canadian, Mexican or US equivalent.
What documents are needed to apply for a TN visa?
To gain a TN visa approval, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the necessary documents. The TN visa is a specialized visa that focuses on the skills and education of the visa applicant, so you’ll need to have documents highlighting your unique credentials.
Below is a list of common documents that you need to apply for a TN visa:
  • Proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship such as a Canadian or Mexican passport.
  • Support letter from your prospective employer, with the time period of employment. This is a critical piece of evidence needed for your TN position. Agricultural companies hiring using a TN visa should outline the professional position and activities you’ll be doing for the company.
  • List of job responsibilities.
  • Explanation of your education background coupled with your qualifications for the particular position.
  • All salary information. The agricultural employer should draft the letter on the company’s ag letterhead and ensure it is signed by an authorized representative.
  • Employment contract in addition to the support letter. The farmer or ag business owner can include more details about the position in the support letter.
  • Documents showing strong ties to your home country and that support the fact you have non-immigrant intent. Acceptable documents may include: deed to real estate in your home country, bills attached to your foreign residence, a letter from a foreign employer showing that you intend on returning to your home country to take a position following your TN visa work, foreign bank account or evidence that you have a spouse and/or children that are residents of your country of origin.
  • Educational degrees, certificates, license, resume, letters from former employers to show you are qualified for the position.
How to transition from a TN visa to a green card?
Not every TN visa holder dreams of obtaining a green card. In fact, the TN visa is classified as a nonimmigrant visa and the TN visa applicant is required to show proof that they have no intention of trying to obtain permanent residency. However, after entering the U.S. with a TN visa, a worker can try to obtain a green card.
As previously mentioned, the TN visa is a non-immigrant visa and is not supposed to be used as a stepping stone to gain a green card; however, sometimes, life happens and things change. When transitioning from a TN visa to a green card, you’ll need to apply for an adjustment of status or apply for an immigrant visa approach. The term ‘adjustment of status’ refers to when you switch from a nonimmigrant classification to an immigrant classification.
The process can be conducted within the U.S., which eliminates the need to return to one’s country of origin. In fact, you are required by law to be present in the United States at the time that you file the adjustment of status petition. You’ll need to file a Form I-485 with USCIS.
Please be aware that applying for an immigrant visa is different from filing an adjustment of status. Immigrant visa applications are conducted at a U.S consulate. The process always requires that you undergo a visa interview with the U.S. Consulate.
Whether you request an adjustment of status or you opt to apply for an immigrant visa, you’ll need to obtain approval for an immigrant classification by filling out and filing a Form I-140 with USCIS.
A TN professional can have the US company that you are working for sponsor you to transition from the TN visa to a green card. If an ag business that you are working with agrees to sponsor you for a green card, then they will need to apply and get approval for a Labor Certification.
The Department of Labor issues the Labor Certification. In order to obtain a Labor Certification, a U.S. company or farm must show that it has tried to secure a qualified US worker to fill the position but was unable to find a qualified worker. Once the Labor Certification is approved then the US company is eligible to sponsor the TN visa holder for a green card.
The transition from a TN classification to a green card shows non-immigrant intent so things can quickly become complicated. Obtaining approval for an immigrant petition causes significant conflict with the non-immigrant intent of the TN Visa. If you are seeking approval for an immigrant petition, then it shows you clearly have an immigration intent. It is important to seek skilled legal assistance when going through the process.

Are TN visa holders’ resident aliens?

If you have resided in the U.S. for three years with a TN status, then you are often considered a resident foreigner or what the IRS refers to as a ‘resident alien.’ The term ‘resident alien’ is used by the IRS for tax purposes. It is based on the total number of days you have spent in the U.S. in the last three years. If you live in Canada or Mexico and commute into the U.S. for work, then you are not considered a resident alien.
What happens if my employer lays me off?
When working in the ag industry, many variables can impact business such as weather and animal health. A farmer is often forced to lay off even professional workers if their bottom line starts slipping. If you are laid off, then you must depart the United States
if you cannot find employment with a sponsoring employer. In some situations, you might be eligible to change your status, so you have time to look for employment before you are forced to depart. However, a TN visa status is not indefinite, especially if you are seeking another employer.
Can I study in the US if I am a TN Visa holder?

It’s not unusual for a professional to want to continue their education to attain higher degrees. If you are a TN visa holder in the U.S, then you can study either part time or full time. However, you must still continue following the conditions of your original TN Visa. If your TN status expires before you have completed your studies then you can extend your TN visa, change your status to an F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa or you can return to your home country.

One thing to note is that TN visa holders are considered non-residents, so the cost of tuition is generally higher than a U.S. resident.

Can I have Two TN Visas?
Many individuals, especially those working for agricultural businesses, local farms, animal breeders, and dairies, often work for more than one employer. You are allowed to obtain a TN visa status that lets you work for more than one U.S. employer at the same time. When a TN visa is first issued, it is employer specific. However, a second TN visa application can also be filed for a new employer if you plan on holding more than one job simultaneously.
How long can you stay in the U.S. after the TN visa expires?
Once your TN visa expires, you have a 10-day grace period that starts after the end date of your stay. During the 10-day grace period, you are not allowed to work. The 10-day grace period is provided so you can prepare to leave the U.S. and make your travel plans. During the time period, you can also opt to change your status.
Can you freelance on a TN visa?
It is often tempting to freelance on a TN visa, but this is prohibited. You’re not allowed to freelance as a TN visa holder in the U.S. In fact, you cannot do any type of work outside of the employment specified in your TN visa petition. You can file to work for more than one employer, but you cannot freelance for yourself.
Can you work part time on a TN visa?
TN visa workers are allowed to work part time. However, U.S. immigration officials often examine any reason for denial if a TN visa petition is for part time employment under the public charge of inadmissibility.
Can I get a social security number with a TN Visa?
A TN visa worker can obtain a social security number (SSN). The worker must apply for a SSN in person at a Social Security Administration office. The individual must complete an Application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5) while providing two forms of identification which so the TN visa holder’s age, identity, and TN work authorization.
Do I pay taxes with a TN visa?
Yes, TN visa holders must pay U.S. taxes. However, Canada signed a totalization agreement with the U.S. which may exempt the TN Visa holder from taxes.
Does a U.S. employer have to notify the government when they terminate a TN visa worker?
There is no requirement in place that requires the employer to notify the government if they terminate the TN worker or they both mutually agree to end their employment relationship.
Is it hard to get a TN visa?

You must be properly prepared with all of the necessary supporting documents to obtain a TN visa. If you do not have the proper professional skills or education, then you might have a challenging time getting a TN visa.

Ideally, you should seek the assistance of a qualified TN visa lawyer to streamline the process and ensure it is not overly difficult or time consuming there for the visa holder or the agricultural employer who wants to hire a skilled professional using the TN visa program.

Is there a lottery for a TN visa?

The H1B visa has a cap set at 65,000 for general petitions and 20,000 for Masters petitions which are granted via a lottery every year. However, there is absolutely no cap for the TN visa.

The entire TN visa process is remarkably streamlined, efficient, and relatively faster, which is why so many agricultural businesses are opting to hire skilled employees using the process.

The agricultural industry has embraced the TN visa program as a way to gain valuable professionals to fill key ag positions. If you are an agricultural farmer or business owner who is interested in the TN visa process, please contact Ag Workforce to learn more.


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