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TN Nonimmigrant Visa: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a TN Nonimmigrant Visa?

The TN visa category was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for qualifying Canadian and Mexican professionals. Nonimmigrants qualified to enter the U.S. under this category may work for a company located in the U.S. for a temporary period.

What are the requirements for TN status?

The applicant must:

  1. Be either a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  2. Enter the U.S. on a temporary basis;
  3. Possess the minimum qualifications for their specific profession. The most common minimum requirement is a Baccalaureate Degree; and
  4. Have an offer of employment.

How long can I work in the U.S. under TN status?

Both Canadian and Mexican citizens can be admitted to the U.S. in TN status in increments of up to three years. As there is no cumulative time limit on TN status, status can be renewed each year indefinitely provided the stay remains temporary in nature.

How do I apply for TN status?

Canadian Citizens

Most Canadians apply for TN status either at a pre-flight inspection facility or port of entry inspection facility while entering the U.S. from Canada. This admission process includes:

  1. A review of the required documentation by a Department of Homeland Security officer;
  2. Acceptance of the filing fee;
  3. Issuance of Form I-94. Form I-94 should be annotated with the appropriate date and port of entry information, the TN classification, an expiration date of up to three years from the date of admission, a multiple entry annotation, and the employer’s name.

Alternatively, the prospective TN employer may choose to file on behalf of the applicant by submitting Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Processing times are much greater, but can be expedited with Premium Processing, a service that guarantees a response within 15 calendar days at an additional cost.

Mexican Citizens

The TN requirements for Mexican citizens are the same as for Canadian citizens, with the exception that Mexican citizens are required to obtain a TN visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. This application process includes an interview and a fingerprint scan. Interviews are scheduled by appointment only. 

Are there any options for my dependents to accompany me?

Yes, dependents of TN status holders (spouses and children under 21) may be admitted in Trade Dependent (TD) status. TD status holders are not authorized to work in the United States, but may attend academic institutions.

Canadian Dependents
Canadian citizens do not need visas. Canadian dependents may apply for TD status at the port of entry at the same time as the TN applicant or at a later time, with copies of the TN applicant’s I-94 card and employment letter. In addition to their passport, they must also show proof of their relationship to the TN, such as a birth or marriage certificate.

Mexican Dependents
Mexican citizen dependents of TNs do require a visa. They may apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate prior to their admission to the U.S. The visa application should include the TN’s letter of employment, copy of the TN’s I-94 card, and a copy of the marriage or birth certificate. An interview should be scheduled beforehand.

Are there any restrictions on traveling outside the U.S. or re-entering while in TN status?

No, TN status holders may depart and re-enter the United States any time during their TN stay. Canadians should be sure to carry their original Form I-94. Mexican citizens and dependents must carry their passport containing the visa and also their valid Form I-94.

What are the benefits of TN status?

There are quite a few benefits to obtaining TN status. They include:

  1. Indefinite renewal: Unlike H-1B status, which typically has a maximum limitation of six years, a nonimmigrant can maintain TN status indefinitely.
  2. Rapid processing times: Unlike other nonimmigrant categories, an application for TN status may be presented at the border with a decision being rendered on the same day the application is made.
  3. Special TD Status Given to Dependents: TD status allows dependents to easily accompany the TN status holder for the duration of their stay in the United States.
  4. Low application fee: Compared to other visa classifications, the government fees involved in applying for TN status are typically much lower.
  5. No quota: Unlike H-1B applicants, TN applicants are not subject to an annual quota.

Berardi Immigration Law frequently prepares applications for individuals interested in TN status. Our attorneys often accompany Canadian TN applicants to present their applicants at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry with a very high rate of success. We also prepare TN applications submitted to USCIS and for submission at the Embassy. If you are interested in applying for TN status, please contact our office to schedule a consultation today!