Visas for Canadian and Mexican NAFTA Professional Workers
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Select NAFTA to visit the Office of the United States Trade Representative website and learn more.
The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers. Permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not able to apply for TN visas to work as NAFTA professionals. Select TN NAFTA Professionals on the USCIS website to learn more about TN nonimmigrant status.
Eligibility for NAFTA Professional (TN) Nonimmigrant Status
Canadians and Mexicans may be eligible to work in the United States as NAFTA professionals under the following conditions:
- Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Profession is on the NAFTA list;
- Position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
- Applicant will work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for an employer (see Required Documentation). Self employment is not permitted;
- Applicant has the qualifications, meeting the specific requirements, education, and/or experience, of the profession.
With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, an alternative to a bachelor's degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree. For a complete list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials, see Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16.
Note: Requirements for Canadians and Mexicans are different, as explained below.
Requirements for Canadian Citizens
Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified Canadian TN visa applicants upon request.
A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply for TN nonimmigrant status at a U.S. port-of-entry. Learn about these requirements on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) websites. More information about TN nonimmigrant status is also available on the U.S. Embassy Ottawa website.
When is a NAFTA Professional (TN) visa required for a Canadian citizen? A Canadian without TN nonimmigrant status, who resides in a third country with a non-Canadian spouse and/or child(ren), and who plans to enter the United States as a NAFTA professional at the same time as the family member(s), will need a TN visa in order for the family members to be eligible to apply for derivative TD nonimmigrant visa(s).
Requirements for Mexican Citizens
Mexican citizens require TN visas to request admission to the United States in this status.
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply.
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
- Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. (A photo is not required if you are applying in Mexico.)
Schedule an Interview
While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.
If you are age:
Then an interview is:
13 and younger
Generally not required
Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older
Generally not required
You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply.
Appointment Wait Time
Prepare for Your Interview
- Fees - Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:
- Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
- Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. (A photo is not required if you are applying in Mexico.)
- A contract or letter of employment in the United States - To show that you have a job offer, provide a contract or employment letter from your employer in the United States confirming your upcoming employment in one of the professional occupations listed in Appendix 1306.d.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16. The letter should also include:
- Your purpose of entry;
- A detailed description of your anticipated business activities or job responsibilities;
- Your anticipated length of stay in the United States;
- Your educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
- Evidence of your compliance with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations and/or state laws; and
- Arrangements for your pay.
- Documentation proving that you meet the minimum education and/or work experience requirements set forth in Appendix 1603.d.1 of NAFTA chapter 16 – Evidence of education would include degrees, diplomas, certificates, professional licenses, and /or membership in professional organizations. To demonstrate your experience, present letters from former employers. If you were self-employed, provide your business records.
Additional Documentation May Be Required
Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of your intent to depart the United States after employment as a NAFTA professional. Evidence of your family ties may be sufficient to show your intent to return to your home country.
Licensure - Proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States is not required to receive a TN visa, but you should consider presenting such proof along with your job offer letter and other documentation in support of your TN visa application. Upon arriving in the United States, state or non-Federal authorities may require you to present proof of licensure to practice a given profession.
Attend Your Visa Interview
During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.
When the visa is approved, you will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.
- Spouse and Children – Your spouse and unmarried, minor children may apply for TD visas to accompany you to the United States or join you later. You must be able to show your ability to financially support your family in the United States.
- Review TN NAFTA Professionals information on the USCIS website for information about employment and studying while in the United States in TD nonimmigrant status.
- Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas, but should review the CBP website for the port of entry requirements.
- Spouse and children who are not Canadian citizens must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas.
- Mexican citizen spouse and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas.
- Spouse or children seeking to join a TN NAFTA Professional in the United States must show a valid Form I-94 from the principal TN visa holder to show that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining TN visa status.
- We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
- Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
Visa Denial and Ineligibility
Review Visa Denials for detailed information about visa ineligibilities, denials, and waivers.
Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if the IWP is available and if you qualify.
I was refused a visa, under section 214(b). May I reapply?
Yes, if you feel circumstances have changed regarding your application. Review Visa Denials to learn more.
Misrepresentation or Fraud
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.