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TN Visa: NAFTA Professionals

The TN Visa category was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which created special economic and trade relationships for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Canadians and Mexicans may be eligible to work in the U.S. as a nonimmigrant NAFTA professional under the following conditions:

  • The applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • The prospective job offer is a profession on the NAFTA list;
  • The applicant will work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job for a U.S. employer (self-employment is not permitted); and
  • The applicant has the required NAFTA qualifications, meeting the specific education and/or experience requirements of the profession.

With some exceptions, each profession requires the applicant to possess a Bachelors degree as an entry-level requirement. In some professions, an alternative to a Bachelors degree is listed, such as related experience or special licensing.

Among the list of designated TN professions are: Accountants, Computer Systems Analysts, Mathematicians, Economists, Management Consultants, Registered Nurses, Engineers, Lawyers, Research Assistants, Graphic Designer, Librarians, Hotel Managers, and more. For a complete list of professions and minimum requirements under NAFTA, see Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA Chapter 16.

Management Consultant

The Management Consultant category is one of the most popular, but also one of the most scrutinized TN occupations. It is intended for professionals who are retained by a U.S. corporation to look at the big picture of its organization and make suggestions or recommendations for change or improvement.

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Scientific Technician/Technologist

To qualify for TN status as a Scientific Technician/Technologist under NAFTA, the position must involve the use of scientific principles, research and development, and/or scientific observations and calculations. Traditional duties include: set-up, operate, and maintain technical instruments; monitor experiments, make observations, calculate and record results and often develop conclusions.

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Physicians

Seeking admission to the U.S. as a Physician under the NAFTA treaty has very strict limitations. A Physician may enter in TN status to engage in a teaching or research position only. Direct patient care is prohibited. There is, however, a caveat to this general condition – patient care that is incidental to a teaching and/or research position is permissible.

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Registered Nurses (RN)

The TN visa regulations allow a professional to enter the U.S. to render pre-arranged professional services as a Registered Nurse (RN).  Typically, a RN coordinates patient care, educates patients and the public about various health conditions, and provides advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

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Computer Systems Analyst

Computer Systems Analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures, and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

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Economist

To qualify for TN status based on work in the profession of economist, the applicant must engage in activities consistent with the profession. This includes conducting research, preparing reports, or formulating plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy.

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Engineer

An individual applying for TN status as an engineer should have a U.S. job offer to work in one of the many engineering specialties (i.e., mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, software, etc.). The regulations do not specifically list the job duties that are required for an individual to qualify under this category, so applicants should refer to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) for guidance.

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Graphic Designer

Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand and/or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

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Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help patients develop, recover, improve, and maintain the skills necessary for daily living.

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Physical Therapist

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured and/or ill individuals manage pain and improve movement. These therapists are often an important part of rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

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Pharmacist

Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.

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Petition Process

A Canadian citizen may apply for TN status directly at a Class A port of entry to the U.S. Alternatively, applicants may submit a petition through the mail with USCIS; upon approval, the applicant may then enter the U.S. in TN status. A Mexican citizen may apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.

All petitions must include, at a minimum:

  • A detailed statement from the U.S. employer with a full description of the proffered position and nature of the beneficiarys proposed duties, the anticipated length of stay in the U.S., and remuneration;
  • Evidence that the beneficiary meets the required education, licensure requirements, and/or alternative credentials for the NAFTA position; and
  • Evidence of Canadian or Mexican citizenship.

Duration

A foreign national in TN status may be admitted to the U.S. for an initial period of stay not to exceed three years. TN professionals can receive extensions of stay for up to a three-year period. There is currently no annual limit on the number of TN admissions/extensions that may be granted. However, as TN status is a nonimmigrant category, the purpose of the foreign nationals stay in the U.S. must continue to be demonstrably temporary throughout the duration of status.

Dependents

Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of TN professionals may obtain TD status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may attend school as students in the U.S., but they may not be employed while in TD status.

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The Berardi Difference

At Berardi Immigration Law, we won’t just draft your TN application. Rather, we will create a strategic plan for your application which includes working with you and your employer to clearly understand your job duties, drafting a comprehensive TN petition and supporting evidence, and meeting with you in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada immediately before you present your application to Customs and Border Protection at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY. As we successfully file a great deal of TN applications each year, we are well-versed on government processing trends and expectations. We enjoy a strong working relationship with Customs and Border Protection, that results in a very high approval rating for our clients. Applying for a TN work permit is not a do-it-yourself project. Dont show up at the border with your job offer letter and resume. Rather, contact the experienced immigration team at Berardi Immigration Law for a seamless TN approval.