What is the TN Visa?

A citizen of Mexico or Canada may be able to obtain a visa In order to enter the United States as a “professional” under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). A professional who qualifies for the visa may be able to enter and remain in the country for up to one year. Each year the TN visa may be extended for another annual duration. There is no limit to the extensions as long as the term of employment remains in temporary status.

Who is eligible?

Citizens of Mexico or Canada who plan to work in a professional field in the United States under NAFTA, must first ascertain that the profession qualifies on the list supplied by NAFTA. This is a list that is provided by the US government describing various fields in which there are shortages of good workers in the U.S., therefore justifying the allowance of foreigners to enter the country to work in those fields. To obtain a TN visa, one’s occupation must be on the list.

The professional must also meet the criteria that are required for the specific occupation in which he works, and he must be employed by a U.S. employer.

The procedural qualifications differ according to country. If the foreign professional is from Canada, there are no limits set as to how many visas can be granted per year. Canadian NAFTA professionals generally do not need to apply for a visa to work in the United States. There are exceptions in instances where immediate family members who are not Canadian citizens may need visas to work in the U.S., and in those instances Canadian NAFTA professionals may apply for a TN visa.

There are limits set each year in regard to how many visas will be granted to professionals from Mexico. A visa attorney can be useful in finding out exactly what the current limits are for Mexican professionals who desire to work in the United States under the TN visa.

Spouses and children who are dependents and under 21 may be granted a TD (trade dependent) visa when accompanying the holder of the NAFTA professional, but they will not be able to be employed. They will be able to attend school, however.

What is the application process?

An applicant for a TN visa must have all required documentation, and pay all required fees, before a TN visa will be granted. In addition to filing an application and securing a passport, the nonimmigrant visitor who intends to work in the U.S. under NAFTA guidelines must document and show that the applicant intends to work for a U.S. employer temporarily, as well as give evidence of how long the applicant intends to stay in the country, what the work will involve as well as documentation showing educational background and work experience.

NAFTA professionals who remain in the country beyond the final date on their TN visa automatically cause their visa to become void, and will be regarded as breaking United States immigration laws. It may become more difficult or impossible for professionals who break immigration laws to obtain a TN visa in the future.


The TN visa application process can be more complicated than simply filling out some paperwork and waiting for results. There are a number of procedural and material requirements for obtaining these immigration benefits, and navigating through the process can be very daunting and time-consuming. For this reason, it is advisable to obtain the advice and assistance of a qualified immigration law attorney to handle the matter.

Austin, Texas immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm has experience assisting individuals in TN visa issues. Ms. Lyttle is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, and can communicate directly with clients and their family members directly in these languages, as well as understand documents in these languages.

Furthermore, because immigration law is a federal, and not state, matter, the Lyttle Law Firm can assist you even if you are not a resident of Texas. If you need a competent immigration attorney to handle your TN Visa application matter, contact the Lyttle Law Firm, and you will be able to speak to a qualified immigration attorney to get the advice and assistance you need. An Austin immigration lawyer experienced in all aspects of TN Visas can make the process more manageable, as well as provide relevant context pertaining to how the matter is proceeding and what you can reasonably expect in terms of both time frame and success in obtaining the desired immigration benefit.