TN for Departments

The TN category was created under NAFTA to facilitate the entry of qualified citizens from Canada and Mexico to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. The category allows for admission of individuals for the purposes of:

  • Working for a U.S. employer as a professional, or
  • Working for a foreign employer (including even a non-Canadian or non-Mexican employer) to provide pre-arranged professional services to a U.S. employer.

Occupations listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 qualify for employment under NAFTA and must meet the minimum qualification for each profession as listed in Appendix 1603.D.1.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
  • Must posses the qualification and necessary license as per the designated occupation.
  • Degree must have been earned from institutions located in Canada, Mexico or the U.S.; if not, a credential evaluation must be done for equivalency.
  • Employment must be temporary and cannot be used to bring tenure-line faculty.

Processing Time

Requests must be submitted to the IO one month prior to the begin date for Canadian citizens and two months for citizens of Mexico.

Processing Flow

All forms associated with the TN can be found here under the 'Departments' heading.
  • Departments submit request to IO
  • IO will review based on eligibility criteria
  • Upon approval, department will draft employment letter (see below) and submit for IO approval
  • Upon approval, department will send letter to the beneficiary.

Employment Letter

The letter should contain the following:

  • Evidence that the employment is listed in the designated occupation
  • Review the educational qualifications or credentials demonstrating the professional level; confirm that the beneficiary meets all license requirements, if applicable
  • Description of duties
  • Reference to the temporary nature of the position with dates of employment and salary

TN Visa Application

A Canadian applicant must present the following documents to an immigration officer at the border (if driving) or to an officer at the pre-flight inspection facility located at any of the three major Canadian airports (Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto):

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • Valid passport
  • Evidence of required qualifications (diploma, license, transcripts, etc.)
  • Employment letter from department
  • $50 filing fee (must be in U.S. dollars)

Documents will be reviewed by a U.S. immigration officer for accuracy and authenticity; if the officer is satisfied, the applicant will be give an I-94 card with date of entry; classification in the YN category; an expiration date (one year); and the name of the employer noted on the card.

REMEMBER: Canadian citizens are visa exempt and need not apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate.

Citizens of Mexico

Since citizens of Mexico are not visa exempt, an applicant will require the same documentation (see above), but will have to present these items to a consular officer at a U.S. consulate in Mexico at the time of the visa application. They are exempt from the $50 fee and will be inspected and admitted at the U.S. port of entry.


A dependent of a TN enters as a TD and is not eligible for employment; however, he or she may study full-time or part-time.

Extending a TN

A TN can be extended by departing and re-entering the U.S. to process an extension. If the beneficiary does not plan to travel, then an extension can be processed within the U.S.

Process Flow for Extension

  • IO receives request with all supporting documents and fees
  • IO will review for accuracy and completeness
  • If complete, IO will file form I-129 with USCIS
  • IO will receive receipt notice
  • IO will forward notice to department
  • USCIS processing time is about three months
  • IO receives approval notice
  • IO will forward to payroll, department and notify beneficiary

All requests for extension within the US must be made to the IO four months prior to the current expiration date of the TN. Departments must provide all supporting documents (listed in the initial request) with the appropriate petition fee for the form I-129.

Employment While Extension Application is Pending

Once the IO files an extension and gets a receipt notice, the beneficiary is eligible to continue employment without a gap.


A Canadian TN may travel and be readmitted to the U.S. as long as the period noted on the I-94 is valid. A Mexican TN will have to make sure that the TN visa stamp in their passport is valid for readmission.

Travel outside the U.S. while an extension is pending with the USCIS is not considered abandoning the application, but does present some difficulties. The IO must be notified so that a request can be made to USCIC to send an electronic approval notification to the nearest U.S. consulate post (Mexican TNs only) or a pre-flight inspection/border crossing (for Canadian TNs). Mexican TNs must apply for a visa at the U.S. consulate before they can reenter the U.S.

Extending Dependent Status

Dependents must file for an extension with the principle TN in order to maintain status in the U.S. by filing form I-539 with the Form I-129 petition. The same travel restrictions apply as stated above.