TN Professional Workers
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – now known as the US Mexico Canada Free Trade Agreement, or USMCA – has greatly increased the ability of Canadian citizens to work in the U.S. Approval is not automatic, however, and cases are often denied with serious consequences for the individuals involved as well as the businesses that employ them. With offices in both the U.S. and Canada, our firm handles many NAFTA work authorizations. We can prepare a complete application and guide you through the process. Click here to email us about your case.
Here is some information about the NAFTA category:
- There are more than sixty categories of NAFTA professionals. They range from Accountant to Zoologist. Common categories include systems analyst for software workers, engineers, registered nurses, dentists and university teachers. Most require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. The degree must be in a field which is related to the NAFTA category. Click here for the complete list of NAFTA jobs.
- NAFTA permits simplified entry into the United States by Canadian citizens to work in professional occupations identified by the agreement. This is the “TN” category (for “Trade NAFTA”). Persons who qualify must present themselves at the border with proof of Canadian citizenship, proof of a job offer in one of the NAFTA categories, and proof that the person has the necessary qualifications. You must be a citizen; permanent residents of Canada do not qualify.
- While there are many NAFTA categories, NAFTA does not entitle all Canadians to work in the U.S. If you do not fit in a TN category, there may be another category available to you such as H-1B, H-2B, L, or J.
- Several categories do not require a degree. These include Management Consultant, Scientific Technician, and Systems Analyst. Since these serve as “catch-all” categories, applications for these categories are often denied. Applications in these categories must be carefully prepared! We have successfully obtained many work authorizations in these categories.
- TNs can be granted for up to three years. These can be extended for additional three-year periods with no fixed limit on the number of extensions. They may be extended by re-applying at the border, or by filing an application through the Vermont Service Center. TN workers may also apply to the Vermont Service Center to change from one TN employer to another. Finally, persons in another nonimmigrant status, such as F-1 students, may apply to the Vermont Service Center for a change of status. However, there is no TN “portability” as there is with H-1B. The new TN must be approved before you can start work with a new employer.
- It is now also possible to apply for an initial TN through the Vermont Service Center. This may be advisable in questionable cases where the applicant wants the assurance of an approved petition before traveling to the United States.
- Spouses and children are also admitted as dependents, along with the principal TN worker. This is called TD status. They can attend school, but they are not allowed to work. Spouses and dependents do not have to be citizens of Canada or Mexico. A non-Canadian spouse or child will need a visa stamp in their passport.
- Mexicans also qualify under NAFTA. There is no petition requirement. Mexicans apply directly at a U.S. consulate for a TN visa stamp, or can apply to the Vermont Service Center for a change of status to TN if in the U.S. in another valid status.
- TN professionals must intend to return to Canada or Mexico when their temporary employment is completed. Once a labor certification or immigrant petition has been filed on behalf of a TN professional, there may be problems getting TN extensions or re-entering the United States. Some TNs change status to H-1B when they start the Green Card process for this reason. This is not always possible due to the H-1B cap, and also because some TN categories such as registered nurse do not qualify for an H-1B. Get professional advice if you are working under NAFTA and plan to get a Green Card.
- The NAFTA agreement also allows U.S. citizens to work in Canada. Click here for more information.