What Are the NAFTA Professions that Qualify for TN Visa?

NAFTA professions
Sixty NAFTA Professions Meet the Qualifications for the TN Visa and Make it Easy for Skilled Professionals from Mexico and Canada to Enter and Work in the U.S.
Canadian and Mexican citizens who want to work in the United States might want to consider the TN visa instead of other nonimmigrant visa options. The TN professional nonimmigrant visa is available only to residents of Mexico and Canada,
Unlike other visas which are challenging to obtain, applicant success with the TN visa is greater due to the fact it is available only to citizens of Canada and Mexico. In addition, the visa has no annual quota limits or sponsorship requirements. The only stringent requirement of the TN work visa is that the applicant must hold one of the required NAFTA professions to qualify.
NAFTA careers
What is the TN Visa?
The nonimmigrant TN visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to enter the U.S. temporarily to work in extremely specific NAFTA careers. The professional level careers require that the visa holder have at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials that establish their professional status in one of the required NAFTA careers.
The TN visa (also referred to as the Trade NAFTA) was designed as a part of the North American Free Trade Agreement in an effort to facilitate the entry of professionals from Canada and Mexico.
The purposes of the TN visa include:
  • Work for a U.S. employer in a professional career.
  • Work for a non-Canadian, non-Mexican, or foreign employer to provide pre-arranged professional careers and services to a U.S. employer.
Under the TN visa, professionals can enter the U.S. for up to three years. Extensions are issued in three-year increments with no cumulative total limit.
A TN visa holder can renew indefinitely as long as they agree that their stay is only temporary. They must continue to demonstrate that they retain permanent ties to their home country and intend to return when their TN employment ends. In some cases, a TN visa holder must provide evidence of their ties to their home country when they apply for TN admission or an extension.
Eligibility Requirements
This information is directly from the USCIS government website.
Below are the eligibility requirements for a TN Visa:
  • Must be a citizen of Mexico or Canada
  • Landscaping/grounds maintenance
  • Must have a NAFTA career as listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty.
  • Cannot be classified as ‘self-employed’ while working in the U.S.
  • Must demonstrate that they have the minimum qualifications for the career (a bachelor’s degree or licensure) that was issued from a genuine educational institution in Mexico, Canada, or the U.S. If a degree is from some other institution, then it should be accompanied with a detailed evaluation that clearly demonstrates an evaluation of all credentials.
NAFTA Career List
Below is the list of the NAFTA careers that qualify for a TN visa:
  • College–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Seminary–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • University–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
Professional Careers
TN visa
  • Accountant–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.
  • Architect–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Computer Systems Analyst–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate and three years’ experience.
  • Disaster relief insurance claims adjuster (claims adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claim adjuster)–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura 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.
  • Economist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Engineer–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
  • Forester–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
  • Graphic Designer–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate and three years’ experience.
  • Hotel Manager–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura 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 or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience.
  • Interior Designer–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience.
  • Land Surveyor–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial/federal license.
  • Landscape Architect–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Lawyer (including Notary in the province of Quebec)–L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., or Licenciatura degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar.
  • Librarian–M.L.S., or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite).
  • Management Consultant–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura 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 or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Range Manager/Range Conservationist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura 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 or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Technical Publications Writer–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience.
  • Urban Planner (including Geographer)–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Vocational Counselor–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Vocational Counselor–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
Medical Professional
  • Dentist–D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental or state/provincial license.
  • Dietitian–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States]–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience.
  • Nutritionist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Occupational Therapist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Pharmacist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Physician (teaching or research only)–M.D. Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license.
  • Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license.
  • Psychologist–state/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Recreational Therapist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Registered Nurse–state/provincial license or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Veterinarian–D.V.M., D.M.V., or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license.
NAFTA professions
Careers in Science
  • Agriculturist (including Agronomist)–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Animal Breeder–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Animal Scientist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Apiculturist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Astronomer–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Biochemist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Biologist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Chemist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Dairy Scientist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Entomologist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Epidemiologist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geneticist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geochemist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geologist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Horticulturist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Meteorologist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Pharmacologist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Plant Breeder–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Poultry Scientist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Soil Scientist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
  • Zoologist–Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree.
TN Visa Application for Canadians
Canadians are not required to have a visa to enter the U.S. They can apply for a TN nonimmigrant visa at most U.S. ports of entry, at some select U.S. airports, and at pre-clearance inspection stations located at airports. The applicant must pay a $50 application fee and a $6 document preparation fee. If the TN applicant enters the U.S. on a commercial airline, then the $6 document preparation fee is included in the airline ticket’s price. .
If the Canadian seeking the TN visa is admitted, then they are given a Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. The I-94 displays:
  • Date of entry
  • Location entry
  • Expiration date (cannot exceed three years)
  • Visa category such as “TN or “TN-1”
NAFTA careers
TN Visa Application for Mexicans
Mexican citizens cannot enter the U.S. without a visa. They must obtain the TN before entering the country. To obtain a TN visa, Mexicans should schedule an appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate. For a complete list of U.S. consulates to visit: www.usembassy.gov . After the issuance of a TN visa, the visa holder can apply for admission into the U.S. at a port of entry. There are no additional fees in the application process. Once the Mexican professional enters the U.S., they are issued a Form I-940 Arrival-Departure Record.
Key Considerations about the TN Visa

1. Documents Needed by TN Visa Applicants

Any visa applicant seeking a TN visa needs the following documents:
  • Proof of citizenship clearly shows they are a citizen of Mexico. Typically, a passport will suffice. The Mexican citizen must provide their proof of citizenship at the U.S. consulate at the time they are issued the TN visa. 
  • Documentation that clearly shows that the visa applicant has engaged in a NAFTA career at a professional level. They must also show professional qualifications. 
  • The two-fold requirements: 
  1. Proof of activity in the profession
  2. Proof that the applicant has the professional career requirements required by the TN visa.
TN visa
All documents should back the applicant’s professional career, display the purpose of entry into the U.S., list the length of anticipated stay, show educational credentials and qualifications that clearly show the applicant has the required NAFTA professional career status, and details about the arrangements of job services they will be performing.

2. Readmission After Previous TN Status

If the applicant was previously admitted into the U.A. with a TN visa and is seeking readmission, then they can often be readmitted for the remaining period authorized on the Form I-94. Simply present the document at the time of applying for the TN visa or TN visa readmission if the original professional activities and employer have not changed.

3. Obtaining an Extension of Stay

An applicant can request an extension of stay which means they wish to have additional time to stay in the U.S. after admission with a TN visa. File the request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Include a document explaining the need for the extension of stay from the U.S. employer. The request must be filed before the visa holder’s permission to remain has expired. All extensions are granted in three-year increments.

4. Changing U.S. Employers

A TN visa applicant can change or add additional employers, but they must first obtain permission by contacting the USCIS before making the change or adding the employers. The TN applicant must have approval from the USCIS for authorization.

The TN visa status is employer-specific, but a TN professional can change employers as long as the new employer meets the needed requirements to have a TN employee. The TN visa holder must have an approved TN status with the new employer before starting work. If a visa holder works for any employer that is not listed on their I-94 card, then they are in direct violation of the immigration law.

Steps to Changing Employers

TN visa holders wishing to change employers should carry out one of the following: 

Form I-129

TN holders who wish to change their employers but plan to continue working as the same professional can file a form I-129 with the USCIS. The option lets the TN professional remain in the U.S. as they process their employer change. However, the processing time is often lengthy if the service center is managing a backlog of applications. Also, there is a filing fee for all I-129 forms. To ensure the speed of the process, the visa holder can always opt for premium processing for a higher cost.

Port of Entry

Applying at a port of entry is similar to applying for a new TN using a different employer. The TN professional follows the same process, but they must also present the job offer along with a letter from the employer and required documents at the port of entry to the CBP officer. The entire application process remains the same and is subject to the same scrutiny as the initial first TN application with the first employer. Applicants must pay attention to the details to ensure acceptance.

5. What Happens if a Strike Occurs?

The U.S. Secretary of Labor must certify that a strike or labor dispute then the U.S. immigration authority may refuse to admit the Mexican or Canadian citizen seeking a TN visa classification because the presence of the foreign visa holder could adversely impact the settlement of the labor dispute.

6. Family of the TN Visa Holder

The family of a TN visa holder can also enter the U.S. The spouse and any children under 21 years old can either accompany the visa holder or join them at a later date. A Form I-94 is issued with an expiration date that reflects the TN visa holder’s expiration date. All dependents are admitted in what is termed a ‘TD visa category.’

NAFTA professions

Canadian Dependents

There is no filing or application fee for Canadian spouses or children under 21 who want to enter the U.S. with a TN Visa holder. The spouse and children must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • Proof of relationship to the TN visa holder
  • Photocopies of all documents of the TN visa holder

Mexican Dependents

A Mexican spouse and children must have valid passports and U.S. nonimmigrant visas to enter the US. with a TN visa holder. They can obtain the documentation at a U.S. consulate or embassy. The dependents are admitted as TD dependents and are not allowed to work in the U.S.

7. Termination from Employment or Layoff

The TN visa status terminates if the employment associated with the visa comes to an end. Dependents also lose their TD status when the nonimmigrant’s visa status ends.

Once employment is terminated or a layoff occurs, there is no grace period – the TN status automatically ends, and the TN visa holder must immediately return to their home country because they are then classed as ‘out of status.’  When a TN visa holder becomes ‘out of status’ the U.S. government can stain the nonimmigrant and benign deportation proceedings.

8. TN Visa Processing Time Frame

A Canadian citizen applying for a TN visa at a port of entry can expect to spend a few hours waiting for the visa processing to complete. If they petition by mail, then the processing time will depend on the USCIS service center’s caseload.

Processing for an I-129H1 can take up to six months in some cases. However, applicants can pay an additional fee to obtain what is termed ‘premium processing’ which fast tracks the TN petition’s processing time and reduces the weight down to 15 business days.

9. TN Visa Denial

The CBP or the USCIS have the authority to deny a TN visa application or several reasons such as:

  • Previous criminal conviction
  • No match between the job off and the TN career profession or applicant’s degrees. 
  • Experience cannot substitute for TN professions that require a bachelor’s degree or other specific licensure. (Applicants who are seeking a visa based on a combination of experience and education should seek entry using an H-1B visa).

What Happens if a TN Visa is Denied?

An applicant who is initially denied a TN visa can always reapply. However, a returning applicant will normally have their application reviewed with a greater degree of scrutiny. Often CBP officers do not want to overturn a previous denial made by another CBP officer.

If the applicant cannot satisfactorily overcome the problems that caused the first denial, then they will probably face another denial of their TN visa application. Any returning applicant should take great care to ensure that they fully resolve any problems that were outlined in the denial before trying again.

10. Educational Evaluations

In some cases, a TN professional who obtained their college or university degrees from an institution that was not located in Mexico, Canada, or the U.S. must have their degree and transcripts evaluated using a foreign credentials evaluation service. The services provide evaluations of your educational credentials and then translate things to reflect the U.S. equivalents.

Educational evaluations aid consular officials in letting them understand and know that the visa applicant has the proper educational requirements for the NAFTA profession for which they are applying.

Difference Between a TN Visa and an H-1B Visa 

The TN Visa and the H-1B share similarities, but also have distinct differences.

No Cap/Annual Cap

  • TN Visa: No Cap
  • H-1B Visa: Cap of 85,000

With the TN visa there is no cap, unlike the H-1B visa which has an annual cap of 85,000 visas allotted. If more applicants than slots occur, then the USCIS will launch a lottery to select visa petitions. The popularity of the H-1B visa makes the odds of being selected slim.

NAFTA careers


  • TN Visa: Extensions Available Every Three Years 
  • H-2B Visa: Extended for a Period of Three Years with a Maximum of Six Years

The TN Visa is extendable every three years indefinitely. The H-1B visa is extendable every three years for a maximum of six years.


  • TN Visa: Cheaper
  • H-2B Visa: Expensive – especially for the employer.

The TN visa is cheaper than the H-2B visa. Although, the employer covers the majority of the H-1B visa fees.


Residency/Nonimmigrant Status
  • TN Visa: 60 Qualifying NAFTA Professions
  • H-1B: Flexible on Qualifying Occupations

The TN visa has a very stringent list of only 60 NAFTA careers that qualify. The H-1B visa is more fluid when it comes to qualifying occupations.

Residency/Nonimmigrant Status
  • TN Visa: Nonimmigrant
  • H-1B: Dual Intent Visa

 With the TN visa, a visa holder cannot seek permanent residency and must provide an intent to return to their home country. Trying to obtain a green card while under a TN status will invalidate the visa status and cause legal consequences. The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa which allows a visa holder to seek permanent legal residency (green card status)

Employers Hiring TN Professionals

An employer who wants to hire a TN professional must show why they need a NAFTA career holder to fill their job position. The TN visa applicant must make arrangements with the U.S. employer prior to taking the position.

Hiring an TN professional requires no real sponsorship on behalf of the employer and only minimal paperwork. Once the TN status is granted, the employer is no longer required to conduct any particular functions.

In order to stay compliant, a TN professional employer must:

  • Ask the TN professional to complete an I-9 authorization when they start work
  • Check to make sure that the TN visa holder’s I-94 displays the proper data as part of their TN status. 
  • Make sure that the TN professional’s job duties and salary are pursuant to their profession. 
  • Provide a letter showing support of the TN professional and outline the job opportunity, needed NAFTA profession, compensation, dates of employment and other basic information such as contact info.
Common TN Visa FAQs

What is a TN Work Status?

NAFTA created a special relationship between the United States, Mexico and Canada forming the TN visa which allowed qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens entry into the U.S. to work in certain NAFTA professions with nonimmigrant visas.

What are the Benefits of a TN Visa?

A TN visa is a great voice for the visa holder and the employer. Here are just a few of the benefits of a TN visa:

  • Fast to obtain – unlike other visa types.
  • No yearly cap
  • Unlimited length of stay in three-year increments
  • No stringent recruitment requirements 
  • Affordable
  • No prevailing wage requirements

 Is there a prevailing wage or minimum page requirement with the TN visa?

No, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is not involved in the TN visa process. DOL does not verify wages. NAFTA and USCIS officers will review the application for a TN visa status to make sure that the wage being offed is consistent with the profession. As long as the wage offered is comparable to wages typically provided for the profession then there will be no problems or red flags. 

Are there any reporting requirements for employers if they hire a TN professional?

No. NAFTA employers do not need to provide reports.

How does an employer verify a TN visa status to ensure the employee a legally work in the U.S.?

The TN professional will have a CBP Form I-94  that shows their work status as TN along with a data of entry and an expiration date. The TN card is stapled to the TN professional’s passport and is valid for the dates indicated on the card. Sometimes the I-94 is issued electronically through CBP’s online I-94 retrieval system. A TN professional must obtain a new I-94 card if their current one expires, or they change employers.

TN visa

Can an employer hire a TN professional who was issued a TN for another employer?

Yes, but the TN professional must obtain a new TN visa that states the new employer. The TN visa holder is required to only work for the employer stated on the Form I-94. The TN visa holder will need to change the employer by filing for a change of employer with a Form I-129 with the USCIS or take care of the change at U.S. port of entry.


Professionals from Canada or Mexico seeking to work in the United States can easily pursue entry with a NAFTA TN visa. As long as the visa applicant meets the educational and professional experience requirements of the TN professional visa, they can easily obtain approval to work in their chosen profession with a U.S. employer.



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