NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. It creates special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals to work in the United States. Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional.
How Can Professionals from Mexico and Canada Work in the United States?
Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. under the following conditions:
- Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Profession is on the NAFTA list;
- Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
- Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted;
- Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the professionThe requirements for applying for citizens of Canada and Mexico, shown below, are different.
- Employment Letter - Evidence of professional employment. Proof of professional qualifications, such as transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and/or records of previous employment;
- Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements;
- Proof of Canadian/Mexican citizenship- Canadian citizens may present a passport, as visas are not required, or they may provide secondary evidence, such as a birth certificate. However, Canadian citizens traveling to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid passport at the port-of-entry;
Additionally, as non-immigrants, applicants must demonstrate that:
Additional Documentation or Qualifying Requirements
- That their stay is a temporary period that has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.
- The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted.
Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as NAFTA Professional for TN visa, under U.S. law by:
Is Licensure Required?
- Education Requirement- The applicant's employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in NAFTA agreement, chapter 16 appendix 1603.d.1. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
- Work Experience Requirement- Document proving to the applicant's experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.
Requirements for NAFTA professional do not include licensure. Licensure to practice a given profession in the United States is a post-entry requirement subject to enforcement by the appropriate state or other sub-federal authority.
Spouses and Children
Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join NAFTA Professionals (TN visa holders) may receive a derivative TD visa. Applicants must demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S. They are permitted to study.
Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas, but they must have the following documents at the port of entry:
Mexican citizen spouses and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- Proof of relationship to the principal applicant, such as marriage certificate and birth certificate; and
- Photocopies of entry documents of the principal applicant.
If the spouse and children are not Canadian citizens, they must get a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. They must contact the U.S. embassy or consulate that serves their area for information on how to make visa applications.
Spouses or children following to join must show a valid I-94, thereby providing proof that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining his/her TN visa status.
How Long Can I Stay?
The maximum period of admission into the U.S is one year. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants extensions of stay in time amounts of one year. There is no limit on the number of years a TN visa holder can stay in the United States. However, the TN visa status is not for permanent residence.
Extension of Stay
For Canadian or Mexican citizens admitted as a NAFTA Professional may seek an extension of stay, which may be granted up to one year, by:
About the Professional Job Series List
Shown below is job series list by profession, with Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials. 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, alternative criteria to a bachelor's degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.
NAFTA Professional Job Series List