USMCA and TN Visas
A unique non-immigrant classification originally created as result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the TN (for Trade NAFTA) visa exists solely for the benefit of Canadian and Mexican citizens.
In September 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement to replace NAFTA with the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), and all three countries had ratified it by March 2020. The USMCA took effect on July 1, 2020.
The TN Visa
As a result of USMCA, Canadian citizens have certain advantages under U.S. immigration law. Canadians do not need to go to a U.S. consulate to enter the United States as a tourist. The B-2 visa (visit for “pleasure”) is issued at the border and grants admission for a maximum of 6 months. If a Canadian citizen wishes to engage in employment or other activity not allowed by the tourist visa, they must apply in the same fashion as other nationalities. Canadian professionals, however, have the opportunity to pursue the TN visa. The TN visa is a special work visa available to Canadians.
Most TN visa occupational categories require an educational credential. Almost all require a bachelor's degree, while some also offer an alternative for possession of a post-secondary diploma and three years of experience. An individual may qualify for a TN visa without a degree or diploma in three categories:
- Disaster relief insurance claims adjuster
- Management consultant
- Scientific technician
Immigration inspectors routinely require a specific degree in the occupational field in order to qualify for TN visa status, often contrary to the government's own guidance on the issue. U.S. immigration memoranda state that the degree possessed by the TN applicant “should be in the field or in a closely related field.”
TN applicants who possess a degree from an educational institution outside of the United States, Canada, or Mexico must obtain an academic evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service that specializes in such evaluations. Unlike the H-1B category, an applicant for a TN cannot combine education and experience and obtain a degree equivalency in order to meet the bachelor degree requirements for a TN. Where a TN occupational category requires a bachelor's or licenciatura degree, an individual may satisfy this requirement by possessing a degree from an educational institution outside of the NAFTA countries (from a college or university outside the U.S., Canada, or Mexico).
TN Visa Occupational Categories
The TN visa occupational categories are:
An individual may apply for TN visa status under NAFTA in 1 of the 63 occupations set forth in NAFTA. The NAFTA TN laws and regulations do not specifically define the types of positions or job duties permissible under the TN occupational categories. A citizen of Canada or Mexico may enter the U.S. under TN visa status “to engage in business activities at a professional level” in one of the professions set forth in Appendix 1603.D.1. INA § 214 (e); 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (a). For example, a position may qualify for TN visa status under a given category if in order to successfully complete the duties of the position, an individual must possess one of the credentials listed for that category. If a position requires a bachelor's degree, then the position should be eligible for TN visa status under that category.
Documents for TN visa application for land or air port-of-entry applications:
- Evidence of citizenship and entry document
- Executed TN support letter
- Copy of applicant's resume
- Copy of applicant's degrees, transcripts, diplomas or certificates
- Executed attestation letter of supervising prfessional (Sci/Tech TN)
- Copy of supervising professional's degrees, diplomas, certificatdes (Sci/Tech TN)
- Executed consulting agreement (management consultant TN and independent contractor)
- Copies of previous experience letters evidencing five years of experience
- Previous experience letters (if necessary)
- Academic / experience evaluation (if degree issued outside NAFTA country)
- Informational literature on employer
- Payment for the I-94 filing fee
Additional documentation to submit if filing through the UCIS:
- Completed and executed Form I-129
- Completed and executed Form I-129 free trade supplement
- Copy of valid passport face page
- Copy of document evidencing current non-immigrant status in U.S.
- Payment in the amount of $320 for I-129 petition filing fee
TN Visa vs. TN status
Individuals new to U.S. immigration law and unfamiliar with the provisions for Canadian and Mexican citizens often confuse a TN visa with TN non-immigrant status. There is a significant difference between a TN visa and TN non-immigrant status. In order to understand the differences, speak with our Seattle WA and Vancouver, BC immigrations attorneys regarding your specific needs.
TN Visa Professions
A Canadian individual must be coming to the U.S. to work temporarily in one of the professions listed in the appendix to the North American Free Trade Agreement. These are the listed professions:
- Accountant (baccalaureate, CPA, CA, CGA, or CMA)
- Animal Breeder
- Animal Scientist
- Architect (baccalaureate or state/provincial license. Also see Landscape Architect, below)
- Computer systems analyst who must have: baccalaureate or post secondary diploma *and three years' experience
- Dairy Scientist
- Dentist (DDS, DMD, or state/provincial license)
- Dietician (baccalaureate or state/provincial license)
- Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster who must have: baccalaureate or 3 years' experience in claims adjustment, and completed training in appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims.
- Engineer (baccalaureate or state/provincial license)
- Forester (baccalaureate or state/provincial license) (Also see Silviculturist, below)
- Graphic Designer who must have: baccalaureate or post secondary diploma and three years' experience.
- Hotel Manager who must have: baccalaureate in hotel/restaurant management, or post secondary diploma in hotel/restaurant management, and three years' experience in hotel restaurant management.
- Industrial Designer who must have: baccalaureate or post secondary diploma and three years experience.
- Interior Designer who must have: baccalaureate or post secondary diploma and three years' experience.
- Land Surveyor (baccalaureate or state/provincial/federal license)
- Landscape Architect
- Lawyer (member of state/provincial bar, or LLB, JD, LLL, or BCL)
- Librarian (MLS, or BLS. BLS must be one for which another baccalaureate degree was a pre-requisite)
- Management Consultant who must have: baccalaureate or five years' experience in consulting or related field.
- Medical Technologist/Medical Lab Technologist (Canada) who must have: baccalaureate or post secondary diploma *and three years' experience. (U.S. job must be in a laboratory to perform chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, or bacteriological tests, and analyses for diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease)
- Nurse, Registered (must have state/provincial license)
- Occupational Therapist (baccalaureate or state/provincial license)
- Pharmacist (baccalaureate or state/provincial license)
- Physician (teaching and/or research only, MD or state/provincial license)
- Physio/Physical Therapist (baccalaureate or state/provincial license)
- Plant Breeder
- Poultry Scientist
- Psychologist (must have state/provincial license. Cannot qualify with just baccalaureate degree)
- Range Manager/Range Conservationist
- Recreational Therapist
- Research Assistant (baccalaureate and U.S. job in a post-secondary educational institute)
- Social Worker
- Soil Scientist
- Silviculturist/Forestry Specialist (also see Forester, above)
- Teacher (baccalaureate degree: must be coming to work for a college, seminary or university only); no secondary or elementary school teaching.
- Technician or Technologist, Scientific (E.g.: Electronic engineering technician.) who must: work in direct support of professionals in one of these disciplines: biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, physics OR possess theoretical knowledge of discipline, and solve practical problems in discipline, or apply principles of the discipline to basic or applied research.
- Urban Planner
- Veterinarian (DVM, DMV, or state/provincial license)
- Vocational Counsellor
- Writer, Technical Publications (Technical Publications Writer) who must have: baccalaureate or post secondary diploma and three years' experience.
In order to pursue a TN visa an applicant must have evidence that they have the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Schedule 2 fields listed below. Call or email us with any questions that you may have. We are always happy to let you speak directly with a qualified immigration lawyer.
|PROFESSION||MINIMUM EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS|
|Accountant||Baccalaureate Degree; or C.P.A, C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.|
|Architect||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Computer Systems Analyst||Baccalaureate Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate and 3 years experience|
|Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster||Baccalaureate 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|
|Engineer||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Forester||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Graphic Designer||Baccalaureate Degree; or post-secondary diploma and three years experience|
|Hotel Manager||Baccalaureate 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 Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience|
|Interior Designer||Baccalaureate Degree; or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience|
|Land Surveyor||Baccalaureate Degree or state/provincial/federal license|
|Landscape Architect||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Lawyer (including Notary in the province of Quebec)||L.L.B., J.D., L.L.L., B.C.L., degree; or membership in a state/provincial bar|
|Librarian||M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate Degree was prerequisite)|
|Management Consultant||Baccalaureate 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 Degree|
|Range Manager/Range Conservationist||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)||Baccalaureate 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 Degree|
|Silviculturist (including forestry)||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Teacher: College||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Teacher: Seminary||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Teacher: University||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Technical Publications Writer||Baccalaureate Degree, or post-secondary diploma or post-secondary certificate, and three years experience|
|Urban Planner (including Geographer)||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Vocational Counselor||Baccalaureate Degree|
In order to pursue a TN visa an applicant must have evidence that they have the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Schedule 2 NAFTA fields listed below. Call or email us with any questions that you may have. We are always happy to let you speak directly with a NAFTA immigration attorney. To view credential requirements for scientists, go to the Credentials: Science tab.
|PROFESSION||MINIMUM EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS|
|Dentist||D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia|
|Dietician||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Medical Lab Technologist (Canada)
Medical Technologist (Mexico and U.S.)
|Baccalaureate Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate and 3 years experience|
|Occupational Therapist||Baccalaureate Degree; or state provincial license|
|Pharmacist||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Physician (teaching or research only)||M.D., Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license|
|Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist||Baccalaureate Degree; or state/provincial license|
|Psychologist||State/provincial license; degree|
|Recreational Therapist||Baccalaureate Degree|
|Registered Nurse||State/provincial license degree|
|Veterinarian||D.V.M., D.M.V., or Doctor en Veterinaria;
or state/provincial license
In order to pursue a TN visa an applicant must have evidence that they have the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the Schedule 2 NAFTA fields listed below. Call or email us with any questions that you may have. We are always happy to let you speak directly with a NAFTA immigration lawyer. The minimum education requirement is a Baccalaureate Degree for each of the following professions:
Agricultural (Agronomist), Animal Breeder, Animal Scientist, Apiculturist, Astronomer, Biochemist, Chemist, Dairy Scientist, Entomologist, Epidemiologist, Geneticist, Geochemist, Geophysicist, Horticulturist, Meteorologist, Pharmacologist, Oceanographer, Physicist, Plant Breeder, Poultry, Scientist, Soil Scientist, Zoologist.
If you are serious about getting legal assistance a consultation is the best place to start. Spend up to a full hour with an immigration attorney to discuss the details of your case, get answers to your questions, work through complex issues and supporting documents and plan an immigration strategy for obtaining benefits.