The TN Visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the United States under a treaty called ” NAFTA” (the North American Free Trade Agreement). This treaty created special economic and trade relationships between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Many employers and employees hire a TN visa attorney to assist with the process.

Unfortunately it is strictly interpreted by the American border immigration officers that only the 60 jobs that are listed on the  Nafta Professionals List (  are eligible for TN Visas.

For a position to quality for TN visa status, the position is supposed to involve “business activities at a professional level”  and this is defined as “those undertakings which require that, for successful completion, the individual has a least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional in a profession set forth in Appendix 1603.D.1.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (c).

Mexicans or Canadians who meet the requirements for a TN Visa may be granted a temporary, nonimmigrant TN visa in the United States for a period of one year  (Mexican nationals) to three years (Canadian national) at a time.

Professionals of Canada or Mexico may obtain a TN Visa to work in the U.S. under the following conditions:

  • Applicant is a Citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Profession is on the NAFTA PROFESSIONS LIST;
  • Job Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
  • Mexican or Canadian applicant has an offer to work for a U.S. employer;


  • Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession (qualifications are listed on the NAFTA PROFESSIONS LIST.

Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who wish to live in the U.S. with the TN Visa professional worker can get a TD visa. The TN Visa worker’s spouse and children do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada.

Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S., but are permitted to study.


“Danielle, I picked up my TN Visa today at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, and I crossed the border to the states around 6 p.m. I had to get my new TN I-94 Card at San Ysidro secondary and they asked me everything all over again, but they weren’t picky about anything, just doing their job.

They liked your organization on the TN Visa files, that helped a lot! I ‘m about to let my employer in San Diego know that I got the TN Visa and that I am ready to start work  this Thursday. Thanks for all your hard work!”

P.R., Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, March 2010



  • The TN Visa is a very subjective visa so be prepared for both the U.S. Consulate interview in Mexico as well as the border interview.
  • Dress professionally, be respectful and do not lose your temper or get fed up (even if you are required to wait a long time at the border).
  • It is up to the discretion of the U.S. Consular Officer in Mexico whether you qualify for a TN Visa – do not give them reasons to deny you.
  • You may not be allowed to use your cell phone inside the U.S. Consulate in Mexico or at secondary inspection at the border.
  • Bring proof of ties to either Mexico, as well as all other required documents.
  • Bring cash to pay for the TN Visa at the U.S. Consulate in Mexico.

Can I Get a TN Visa to Work for My Own American Company?

The TN Visa is not available if you set up your own business in the United States and then sponsor yourself for a TN Visa. Unfortunately, the regulations specifically do not allow self-employment for TN Visa holders, unless you perform services for a U.S. entity.

TN Visa holders may not be sole owners of, or hold a controlling interest in, their sponsoring companies. If you are seeking to invest in a business in the United States, you may want to consider the E-2 Treaty Investor visa category instead of the TN visa.

danielle nelisse

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