The Trade NAFTA (TN) Visa
Certain professionals are admissible to the U.S. under the NAFTA treaty in the TN nonimmigrant category. Professionals entering in the TN category can work for the U.S. employer in two different situations:
- Employment by a U.S. company on a temporary basis, to be paid in an identical manner as H-1B professionals.
- Employment by a Canadian or Mexican company in the United States on projects contracted with U.S. companies.
Basic Information About the TN Category
To qualify for TN status, the intended U.S. activity must be a listed Schedule 2 profession, and the foreign national must possess the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in his occupation. Furthermore, the foreign national must actually perform professional-level activities in the United States. With regard to the foreign national’s qualifications, a bachelor’s or higher degree is usually required, unless Schedule 2 lists alternative qualifications. Equivalency to a required degree through a combination of experience and education will not be accepted for TN purposes; foreign nationals in this situation should consider applying for H-1 status.
Duration of Stay
A foreign national may be admitted to the United States in TN status for the period of time required by the employer, up to one year. TN professionals can then receive extensions of stay in one-year increments, with no limit on the total period of stay.
Limits on Stay
The limits on stay for H-1B (six years) and L nonimmigrant (five or seven years) do not apply to TN foreign nationals. In addition, Canadian and Mexican professionals who have already completed six years in the H-1 or L nonimmigrant category can immediately qualify for the TN category without fulfilling the one-year-abroad requirement imposed by USCIS for H-1 and L aliens. The only limitation on the duration of stay of TN nonimmigrants is that the purpose of the stay must continue to be temporary.
Procedures for the TN Category
Canadian professionals may enter the United States under NAFTA without having to file a petition with USCIS as required in the H-1 category; they can enter the United States by establishing their qualification for the TN status to a USCIS inspector at the port of entry. At minimum, the applicants must prove they are engaged in one of the designated professions, and that they possess the requisite educational credentials. Canadian professionals are designated as TN-1 nonimmigrants upon entry into the U.S.
Mexican professionals must comply with a procedure similar to the procedure for H-1B classification. Their employer must file a petition for TN status with USCIS, and the petition must be supported by the same labor condition application (LCA) required for any H-1B foreign national. Furthermore, once the petition is approved, the Mexican TN must obtain a visa from a U.S. consulate prior to admission to the United States.
Following is the NAFTA Professions list: minimum qualifications are a bachelor’s degree and/or applicable professional license unless otherwise noted.
- Accountant (or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.)
- Animal Breeder
- Animal Scientist
- Architect (or state/provincial license)
- Computer Systems Analyst (or post secondary degree or certified and three years)
- Dairy Scientist
- Dentist (D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia, Doctor en Cirugia Dental, or state license)
- Dietitian (degree or state/provincial license)
- Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (or three years experience in claims adjustment; either way must also have successful completion of training in the appropriate area of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims)
- Engineer (degree or state/provincial license)
- Forester (degree or state/provincial license)
- Graphic Designer (or post secondary diploma and three years experience)
- Hotel Manager (degree must be in hotel/restaurant management; or post secondary diploma or certificate in hotel/restaurant management and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management)
- Industrial Designer (or post secondary diploma or certificate and three years experience)
- Interior Designer (or post secondary diploma or certificate and three years experience)
- Land Surveyor (or state/provincial/federal license) Landscape Architect
- Lawyer (B.C.L., J.D., L.L.B., L.L.L. or member of a state/provincial bar)
- Librarian (B.L.S., of which another baccalaureate or license was a prerequisite, or M.L.S.)
- Management Consultant (or five years experience in consulting or in field of specialty related to consulting agreement)
- Medical Technologist/ Medical Laboratory Technologist (or post secondary diploma or certificate and three years experience)
- Nurse, Registered (must also have state/provincial license)
- Occupational Therapist (or state/provincial license)
- Pharmacist (or state/provincial license)
- Physician [teaching or research only] (M.D., Doctor en Medicina, or state/provincial license)
- Physical Therapist/Physiotherapist (or state/provincial license)
- Plant Breeder
- Poultry Scientist
- Psychologist (must also have state/provincial license)
- Range Manager/Range Conservationist
- Recreational Therapist
- Research Assistant (U.S. job must be in a post secondary educational institution)
- Scientific Technician/Technologist (must work in support of a professional in one of the following areas: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and possess theoretical knowledge of the discipline; and have the ability to solve practical problems in the discipline or apply basic principles of the discipline to basic or applied research)
- Social Worker
- Soil Scientist
- Sylviculturist/Forestry Specialist
- Teacher [U.S. job must be at a college, university, or seminary]
- Technical Publications Writer (or post secondary diploma or certificate and three years experience)
- Urban Planner
- Veterinarian (D.V.M., D.M.V., Doctor en Veterinaria, or state/provincial license)
- Vocational Counselor