TN Visa under North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) makes temporary employment in the U.S. easier for certain Canadian and Mexican workers.  NAFTA created a new classification, “TN,” for eligible Canadian and Mexican professional workers and also affected terms of admission for Canadians admitted to the U.S. under other nonimmigrant classifications.

(Links to headings below)
TN Visa Requirements
Duration of Stay
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TN Visa Requirements

Professionals may obtain TN status in the United States if they meet the following requirements:

  • The profession of the visa applicant is on the NAFTA list
  • Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • Position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional
  • Job is prearranged, full-time or part-time and with a U.S. employer (self-employment does not meet the requirements)
  • Applicant has the qualifications of the profession

The TN visa requirements for Canadian and Mexican citizens are different.

In general, Canadian applicants do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional and they can apply at a U.S. port of entry. However, a visa can be issued to qualified applicants upon request.

Mexican Citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as TN nonimmigrants. They need to apply for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. In general, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required for visa applicants from age 14 to 79. Applicants age 13 or younger and age 80 or older do not require an interview, unless requested by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Duration of Stay

The TN visa holders may stay in the United States for an initial period of up to three years. If they intend to remain in the country beyond the initial period of stay without departing the United States, they need to apply for an extension of stay. If they depart the United States before the expiration of their TN status, they may apply at a U.S. port of entry using the same procedures and documentation as was required at the time of their initial TN visa application.


TN applicants’ spouses and children under 21 years of age may qualify for a TD visa for a period of time not longer than the period of time granted to the principal TN applicant. To obtain such visa, the applicants need to demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the TN visa applicant. Dependents of the principal applicant do not need to be citizens of Canada or Mexico. TD visa holders are allowed to study during their stay in the United States but they are not allowed to work.

Spouses and children of the TN visa holders who are citizens of Canada do not need to apply for visas, however, they need to meet the requirements of the U.S. port of entry to obtain the TD status.

Spouses and children of the TN visa holders who are not Canadian citizens or are citizens of Mexico need to apply for TD visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Dependents following to join the principal TN visa holder need to present a valid I-94 of the TN visa holder to prove that the principal is obtaining the TN visa status.

If a TN status holder applies for an extension of stay in the United States any eligible TD family member may also apply to extend their status without the need to travel abroad.

If a Mexican TD dependent travels abroad following approval of any such extension of stay and expiration of the TD visa, the dependent will be required to apply for a new TD visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate before being permitted to return to the United States in TD status.

The Department of State Website

USCIS Website

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