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Understanding the TN Visa for Canadian Citizens

Are you a Canadian professional looking to work in the United States? Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), you could have the option to get a temporary work visa in the United States. Read on to find out more information on the TN Visa for Canadian Citizens. 


Overview of the TN Visa


The TN nonimmigrant classification, or the TN Visa, allows Canadian (and Mexican) nationals temporary stay in the US for business activities at a professional level. You may enter and work in the United States if you fall under the category of approved TN NAFTA Professionals. Some examples include accountants, engineers, lawyers, scientists, and teachers. You may only apply for a TN visa as someone who has been working as a NAFTA professional. You are not eligible to apply for a TN visa to become a NAFTA professional. 


The general eligibility requirements for a TN visa for Canadians include the following:


  • You are a Canadian citizen
  • Your profession is included in the list of eligible NAFTA professions (examples included above)
  • The position you are going to work in requires a NAFTA professional
  • You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a US employer
  • You are not self-employed
  • You have the necessary qualifications to perform the profession you are seeking


If you meet the eligibility criteria above, you may be qualified for a TN visa. Note that unlike Mexican citizens, Canadian citizens do not require TN visas before entering the United States. For Canadian citizens, you may apply for TN status at a U.S. point of entry. You can apply for and be granted TN status and U.S. admission simultaneously. However, you must apply for a TN visa at a US Consulate before entry into the US if the following applies to you: 

  • You reside in a third country (not Canada) with a non-Canadian spouse and/or child(ren)
  • You plan to enter the US with said family members
  • Are seeking derivative TD nonimmigrant visas for your family members


With the TN visa, you will be able to work and reside in the United States for increments of three years at a time. While there is no limit to how frequently you may renew the visa, TN visa beneficiaries must have the intention to leave the US upon completion of their project or employment period for the U.S. employer. 


Application at Ports of Entry


As a Canadian citizen, you may apply at a port of entry by presenting the following documents to a US Customs and Border Protection officer:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship; 
  • Letter from your prospective employer detailing your professional capacity, purpose of employment, length of stay, and educational qualifications; 
  • Credentials evaluation; and
  • Applicable fees. 

Employer petition

Alternatively, your employer could file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers to the USCIS on your behalf. If the petition is approved, you may apply for the TN visa at a port of entry by presenting the following documents:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship; and 
  • Approval Notice from USCIS for Form I-129. 

Consular Processing

For Canadian citizens residing in a third country or with a spouse/ dependents who are not Canadian citizens, you must apply for TN status by submitting Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Once the application is submitted, the Canadian Embassy will process the application and you will be invited by consular officers for an interview. You will need to submit proof of your professional qualifications, including diplomas and licenses. You will also need to provide documentary evidence of your intent to depart from the U.S. following the completion of your project or employment period, to the satisfaction of the consular officer.  If granted the visa, you will be allowed entry into the US. 

Visas for family members

If granted TN status, your spouse and/ or unmarried, minor child(ren) under the age of 21, may apply for and be granted a TD visa which allows them to reside in the U.S. for the duration of your business. They are not authorized to work in the U.S. but are allowed to attend school. 


Four Benefits of TN Visa for Canadian Citizens


Four benefits of the TN Visa program include the following: 

  1. You may conduct your business while legally residing in the US
  2. You may enjoy the benefit of indefinite renewals or extension of status
  3. You can secure visas for your family members
  4. There is no annual cap on the number of TN visas granted


Why Hire an Immigration Attorney? 


The TN Visa application can be a complicated process to navigate through on your own. An immigration attorney can help both you and your family navigate through the entire process and make sure that your application is completed completely, on time, and without errors. One thing to note is that TN visas do not lead to permanent citizenship or a Green Card. If you wish to pursue those other permanent citizenship options or just the TN visa, contact us for an assessment or consultation.


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