NAFTA and Visas
I am a Canadian citizen and I have heard that NAFTA affects how I can obtain a visa. Is this true?
Yes. For certain Canadian and Mexican professionals, NAFTA provides for admission to the United States as a nonimmigrant. Employers sponsoring professionals for such visas must use Form I-129. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the United States. But permanent residents-including Canadian permanent residents-cannot apply to work as a NAFTA professional.
Canadian or Mexican professionals can work in the United States if the applicant is Canadian or Mexican citizen, his or her profession is on the NAFTA list, the U.S. position requires a NAFTA professional; the applicant is to work in a prearranged full- or part-time job for a U.S. employer, and the applicant has the qualifications of the profession. The requirements for applying for Canadian and Mexican citizens are different.
TIP: To find out if your profession is a NAFTA Professional job, consult the NAFTA Professional Job Series List on The Department of State Web site. It lists professions along with minimum education requirements and acceptable alternative credentials. You can view this list at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1274.html.
Can I apply for a NAFTA TN visa if I am self-employed?
No, self-employment is not permitted. The applicant must have a prearranged full- or part-time job with a U.S. employer.
What do I need to do to apply for a NAFTA TN visa as a Canadian?
Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA professional. A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port-of-entry with the following:
- request for admission under TN status to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, US Immigration Officer;
- an employment letter from the U.S. employer;
- proof of professional qualifications, such as school transcripts and degrees, licenses and certificates, and records of previous employment;
- proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements in the United States;
- proof of Canadian citizenship; and
- fee of U.S. $50.
What do I need to do to apply for a NAFTA TN visa as a Mexican?
As of January 2004, Mexicans no longer need to petition for approval or file a labor condition application. The U.S. employer must give the applicant an employment letter indicating that the U.S. job requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA. Part-time employment is allowed, but self-employment is not.
Mexican citizens must still have a visa to request admission to the United States. An interview at the U.S. Embassy is required for most visa applicants. Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must also submit Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Males between the ages of 16 and 45 must submit Form DS-157. You must also have a passport valid for travel 6 months beyond your intended length of stay. You will also need to show evidence that your stay is temporary.
Can I bring my spouse and children with me on a NAFTA TN visa?
Yes. Mexican spouses and children will receive a derivative "TD" visa. Spouses and children cannot work while in the United States, but they can study. Your spouse and children must apply for these visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Canadian spouses and children do not need visas, but they must have proof of their Canadian citizenship and proof of marriage and birth certificates for the children. If your spouse or children are not Canadian citizens, they must apply for a "TD" visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
My TN visa is good for 1 year. Can I extend this?
Yes, the USCIS allows extensions in 1-year increments with no limit on the number of years a TN visa holder can stay in the United States. Your employer can file Form I-129 or you can apply at a port-of-entry using the same documentation as required for your initial entry into the country.