TN NAFTA Professionals

The TN Visa is a non-immigrant visa option for citizens of Canada and Mexico. It was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA treaty was replaced with the US/Mexico/Canada Agreement (USMCA) but the TN immigration provisions were not changed.

The Twin Cities business immigration attorneys of The Law Firm of Craig J. Peterson L.L.C. assist employers and employees throughout North America determine eligibility for TN visas and complete the TN application process. We encourage you to contact us if you need legal advice regarding TNs.

Essential Elements of the TN Visa

  • The TN requires employer sponsorship and is employer-specific. A change in employer requires a new TN Petition.
  • The TN can be issued in up to 3 year increments. There is no specific limit to the number of extensions, but the work is to be temporary.
  • Canadians can change status to a TN within the U.S., or apply for a TN at a Port of Entry (Pre-Flight Clearance facility or land border crossing).
  • Mexicans can change status to TN within the U.S., or apply for a TN at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.
  • The TN employee must continue to be employed and working for the TN employer sponsor to maintain status in the U.S.
  • Spouses and children under 21 of TN visa holders can be in the U.S. in TD status, but do not have work authorization.

TN Eligibility

  • The TN Candidate must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
  • The TN must have an Employer Sponsor in the United States. Self-employment does not qualify.
  • The Position must be in a Profession that is on the NAFTA Appendix 1603.d.1.
  • The TN Candidate must have the Qualifying Education and/or Experience required as set forth in the NAFTA Appendix.


Example 1: Company A has a position open for a Computer Systems Analyst, and it would like to employ someone who just graduated with a four year Computer Science degree from a U.S. university, who is a citizen of Canada.

Can Company A apply for a TN for this person? Yes. The Position, Computer Systems Analyst, is one of the positions listed on the NAFTA Annex. Also, the Candidate meets the educational requirements listed on the Annex, which is either a four year degree in Computer Science or a related field, or a two year relevant degree and three years’ relevant experience.

Same Example, but another Candidate. This Candidate, also from Canada, has a high school diploma and 15 years’ relevant experience. Can Company A apply for this Candidate for a TN? No. The position still qualifies, but the Candidate does not have one of the specific ways to qualify as a Computer Systems Analyst for a TN. A degree equivalence, based on experience, will not qualify.

Example 2: Company B would like to hire a Candidate to consult with its Chief Technical Officer and analyze and resolve strategic and operational problems relating to its Information Technology, to improve its structure and efficiency. The Candidate is from Mexico. He has 15 years’ relevant experience, but no degree. Can Company B successfully apply for a TN for this Candidate?

Perhaps – not as a Computer Systems Analyst but the position may qualify under the Management consultant category. The Management Consultant under NAFTA analyzes and resolves strategic problems relating to the overall operations of the company in any number of fields, to improve its structure, efficiency, profit margin, etc., rather than engage in day-to-day work. If the position qualifies, then the Candidate must have five years’ relevant experience. No degree is required. Because the Management Consultant can cover so many fields, and it does not have a degree requirement, it is the most highly scrutinized TN category (and the one with the most denials). If properly evaluated and presented, however, it is a useful category.

How Our Twin Cities Immigration Attorneys Can Help

The TN Visa is appealing for those who qualify, as the process is generally less involved than that of the H-1B specialty occupation, for example. In addition, there is no annual quota limiting the number of TN Visas. However, the TN has its own set of challenges. We can assist in determining whether the position and the candidate qualify for a successful TN application, evaluating whether the candidate may have any other immigration issues that could make obtaining the visa difficult, and deciding whether a change of status in the U.S. or going to a Port of Entry or Consulate would be the best option. We also assist employers in assembling the documents required for TN applications.

Based in Woodbury, our immigration attorneys work with employees and companies in the Twin Cities and throughout the globe. We welcome you to contact The Law Firm of Craig J. Peterson L.L.C. for assistance with your immigration matter.