Mexican and Canadian TN NAFTA Professional Workers

Important Notice:  After July 26, 2005 healthcare workers such as registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and medical technologists working under NAFTA trade status in the U.S. and who were employed and licensed in the U.S. prior to September 23, 2003 must have credential certification. To learn more, please visit THIS link.

Overview

NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. It creates special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States.  Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional.

Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. under the following conditions:

  • Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Profession is on the NAFTA list;
  • Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
  • Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted; and
  • Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession.

Requirements for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. However, a Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and children would need a visa to enable the spouse and children to be able to apply for a visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder. 

A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry with all of the following:

  • Request for admission under TN status to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration officer;
  • Employment Letter – Evidence of professional employment. See Employment Letter below;
  • Proof of professional qualifications, such as transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and/or records of previous employment;
  • Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements;
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship- Canadian citizens may present a passport, as visas are not required, or they may provide secondary evidence, such as a birth certificate. However, Canadian citizens traveling to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid passport at the port-of-entry; and
  • Filing fee

Requirements for Mexican Citizens

As of January 1, 2004 the procedures were simplified for Mexicans by removing the requirement for petition approval and for filing of a labor condition application. Mexicans are no longer subject to numerical limitation for these professionals. Mexican citizens still require a visa to request admission to the United States.

Mexican Citizens – Applying for a TN Visa – Required Documentation

Mexican citizens may apply at consular sections around the world for a NAFTA professional (TN) visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for most visa applicants. Interviews are generally by appointment only. As part of the visa interview, a quick, two-digit, ink-free fingerprint scan can generally be expected. The waiting time for an interview appointment for most applicants is a few weeks or less, but for some embassy consular sections it can be considerably longer. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is now available on the U.S. Department of State website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. Visit the Embassy Consular Section website where you will apply for your visa to find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other instructions.

Each Mexican applicant for a TN visa must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:

Additionally, as nonimmigrants, applicants must demonstrate that:

  • Their stay is a temporary period that has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence.

Employment Letter

The employer in the U.S. must provide to the applicant a Letter of Employment in the United States. The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1.

The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted. An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:

  • Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged;
  • Purpose of entry;
  • Anticipated length of stay;
  • Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
  • Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and
  • Arrangements for pay.
  • Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.

Additional Documentation or Qualifying Requirements

Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they are properly classifiable as NAFTA Professional for TN visa, under U.S. law by:

  • Education Requirement- The applicant’s employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in NAFTA agreement, chapter 16 appendix 1603.d.1. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
  • Work Experience Requirement – Document proving to the applicant’s experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.

Licensure Issues

Requirements for NAFTA professional do not include licensure. Licensure to practice a given profession in the United States is a post-entry requirement subject to enforcement by the appropriate state or other sub-federal authority.

Spouses and Children

Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join NAFTA Professionals (TN visa holders) may receive a derivative TD visa. Applicants must demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S. They are permitted to study.

Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas, but they must have the following documents at the port of entry:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship;
  • Proof of relationship to the principal applicant, such as marriage certificate and birth certificate; and
  • Photocopies of entry documents of the principal applicant.

Mexican citizen spouses and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

If the spouse and children are not Canadian citizens, they must get a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. They must contact the U.S. embassy or consulate that serves their area for information on how to make visa applications.

Spouses or children following to join must show a valid I-94, thereby providing proof that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining his/her TN visa status.

Period of Admission

The maximum period of admission into the U.S is three years. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants extensions of stay in time amounts of up to three years. There is no legal limit on the number of years a TN visa holder can stay in the United States. However, the TN visa status is not for permanent residence.  If you have spent considerable amounts of time in the U.S. in TN status, you will likely be required to prove you still maintain significant ties to your home country.

Extension of Stay

For Canadian or Mexican citizens admitted as a NAFTA Professional may seek an extension of stay, which may be granted up to one year, by:

  • If the applicant is in the U.S., employer may file Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) ; or
  • Applicant may apply at a port of entry using the same application and documentation procedures above as required for the initial entry.

More Information on the TN Visa

Further information on the NAFTA, including the “NAFTA Handbook,” go to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS Website, select North American Trade Agreement.

Professional Job Series List

Shown below is job series list by profession, with Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials. With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, alternative criteria to a bachelor’s degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.

NAFTA Professional Job Series List

Profession

Minimum Education Requirements and Alternative Credentials

Accountant

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A, C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.

Architect

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Computer Systems Analyst

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate and three years’ experience

Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (Claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims

Economist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Engineer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Forester

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Graphic Designer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or post-secondary diploma and three years experience

Hotel Manager

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate in hotel/restaurant management and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management

Industrial Designer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience

Interior Designer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience

Land Surveyor

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree or state/provincial/federal license

Landscape Architect

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Lawyer (including Notary in the province of Quebec)

L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., or Licenciatura degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar

Librarian

M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree was prerequisite)

Management Consultant

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement

Mathematician (including statistician)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Range Manager/Range Conservationist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Scientific Technician/ Technologist

Possession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research

Social Worker

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Sylviculturist (including forestry)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Technical Publications Writer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience

Urban Planner (including Geographer)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Vocational Counselor

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

MEDICAL/ALLIED PROFESSIONALS

Dentist

D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental or state/provincial license

Dietitian

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or post secondary diploma or post secondary certificate, and three years experience

Nutritionist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Occupational Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state provincial license

Pharmacist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state provincial license

Physician (teaching or research only)

M.D., Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license

Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Psychologist

State/provincial license; or Licenciatura degree

Recreational Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Registered Nurse

State/provincial license or Licenciatura degree

Veterinarian

D.V.M., D.M.V., or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license

SCIENTIST

Agricultural (Agronomist)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Breeder

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Apiculturist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Astronomer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Biochemist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Chemist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Dairy Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Entomologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Epidemiologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geneticist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geochemist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Horticulturist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Meteorologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Pharmacologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Plant Breeder

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Poultry Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Soil Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Zoologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

TEACHER

College

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Seminary

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

University

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree