The Trade NAFTA (TN) classification is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the U.S. to work in a professional occupation, as specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty (https://www.nafta-sec-alena.org/Default.aspx?tabid=97&ctl=SectionView&mid=1588&sid=8fd98e3e-4495-43a8-ba47-4a6955d6b5db&language=en-US#Ap1603.D.1). The TN category was developed as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement to enable the entry of Canadian and Mexican citizens to the United States to engage in professional employment. Only occupations specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty can serve as the basis for TN employment.
Canadian and Mexican citizens may be admitted to the United States in TN status in increments of up to 3 years, with the possibility of extensions also in increments of up to 3 years. There is no limit to the number of times Mexican or Canadian citizens may be granted TN status, provided their stay remains temporary.
The procedures for obtaining TN status vary for Canadians and Mexicans citizens. A Mexican citizen must obtain a TN visa from a U.S. consulate before being eligible to apply for admission to the U.S. in TN status, whereas Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement.
Canadian citizens apply for admission to the United States directly with Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection at a port of entry.
As part of the application process, the hiring department must write a detailed TN support letter that the applicant will use to apply for admission to the U.S. in TN status. The letter should address/describe the following information, on letterhead, and be signed by the department head:
- Job title
- Detailed job description/duties
- Duration of employment (anticipated length of stay not to exceed three years)
- Educational qualifications or credentials that demonstrate the applicant's professional level status
- Salary and benefits
- Confirm that the applicant meets all licensing requirements, if applicable
Note: Always refer to Appendix 1603.D.1 to verify that the position and the individual qualify for TN status.
Canadian citizen can apply for admission in TN status directly at a U.S. port-of-entry by presenting the following supporting documentation:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship which may include:
- Birth certificate
- Certificate of naturalization
- Offer of Employment (Detailed letter from the employer as described above under Hiring Department)
- Evidence of qualifications (degree/diploma/certificate, including transcripts). If obtained outside of North America, must include an accredited evaluation and English language translation. Degree must relate to the job.
- Proof of experience/qualifications, if applicable
- Processing fee
If Traveling with Dependents
- Marriage license
- Birth certificate or adoption record
- TD visa for non-Canadian dependents
Note: TN applicants must be prepared to provide evidence of educational qualifications or credentials that demonstrate the applicant's professional level status, if asked. Canadians in TN status may depart and re-enter the U.S. any time during their TN stay.
Mexican applicants should consult the ISSS regarding the application process.