Under the NAFTA treaty, Canadian citizens enjoy certain special U.S. immigration privileges pursuant to international treaties between the U.S. Canada and Mexican governments. Among these privileges is a special nonimmigrant visa category for Canadian citizens, the TN ("TN" stands for "Treaty/NAFTA"). The TN nonimmigrant visa classification was created by the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"), and applies to Canadian citizens temporarily entering the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level. Unlike the more common H-1B visa classification, the TN category is only open to Canadian or Mexican citizens who shall work in certain pre-designated professions.
The great advantage of the TN process is the relative speed with which this visa status can be acquired. Most TN visa applications may be made at the port of entry. Typically, Canadian citizens flying to the United States from Canada will apply for their TN visa applications at designated "Pre-Flight Inspection stations" - located within major Canadian international airports - before leaving Canada. Many U.S. employers hiring Canadian citizens find that they can bring their candidates "on board" (and on U.S. payroll) within a matter of days or weeks, rather than the months-long wait that the H-1B or L-1 visa application process usually requires.
Another advantage of the TN category is that, unlike the H-1B visa category, the TN has no annual limits per fiscal year. In theory, an unlimited number of TN visas can be issued each year. Further, unlike the H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant visa categories, there is no set "cap" on the amount of time a Canadian citizen may remain in the United States in TN status.
Further, the USCIS will typically expect a TN visa applicant to possess a degree related to the field in which s/he will work in TN status. For example, a Canadian citizen with a Biology degree may not necessarily be considered qualified for TN visa entry if performing professional activities as a Geologist. USCIS may consider that same candidate eligible for TN entry as a Biologist, but only if the candidate will, in fact, perform duties as a Biologist at a professional level. Therefore, please keep in mind that possession of a baccalaureate degree in any one of the fields below will not necessarily guarantee a successful TN visa application, unless the candidate will perform business activities related to their area of academic expertise.
There are occasional exceptions to this rule, however, so candidates concerned regarding this issue should contact our firm for and schedule a paid phone or in person consultation for further details.