The TN visa is granted under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The TN visa is reserved specifically for nationals of Canada and Mexico.
TN visas provide for the admission of those who will be engaged in “activities at a professional level” in the U.S. “Activities at a professional level” are defined as those that require at least a bachelor’s degree or credentials and experience demonstrating that the person is a professional. Self-employment is not permissible on a TN visa, except in the management consultant category. However, the TN visa holder can work for a company in which they have an ownership interest, even a controlling interest.
While the TN visa is in many ways similar to the H-1B visa, it has both advantages and disadvantages. The TN is more useful than the H-1B for the following reasons:
The TN is less useful than the H-1B for the following reasons:
Both the NAFTA treaty itself and federal regulations specify which professions qualify for TN status.
Canadian citizens can apply for the TN visa at a port of entry or pre-flight inspection at a Canadian airport. If approved, the Canadian will be given an I-94 valid for multiple entries over a three year period. Proposed TN rule.
Mexican citizens may apply for the TN directly at a U.S. consulate in Mexico and do not need prior approval from USCIS. Mexicans may not apply for a TN at pre-flight inspection.
Spouses and children of TN visa holders are given TD visas. Work is not authorized for TD visa holders, but they may attend school.
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