The TN visa classification is for citizens of Mexico or Canada who seek to enter the US on a temporary basis “to engage in business activities at a professional level.” This classification is based on the NAFTA treaty.
The classification is similar to the H-1B category in that it is generally for professionals who wish to enter the US to work for a temporary period of time. The phrase “business activities at a professional level” is defined in the regulations as activities that require at least a baccalaureate degree or “appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional” in a profession listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA. The professions fall into four major categories:
The regulations outline the specific degree or professional credentials requirements for each profession listed.
It is possible to apply for the TN directly at the port of entry (for Canadians, who are visa exempt), or at the US consulate (for Mexicans, who do require a visa). If a TN applicant is applying directly at the port of entry or at the US consulate, it is not required to have a petition approved by USCIS first (unlike the H-1B process). The TN applicant would present a package of documents directly to the CBP officer (if Canadian) or to the consular officer at the scheduled visa interview (if Mexican), and the officer will make a decision on the application.
If the foreign national is in the US, it is possible to file for a change of status to TN, or to file an extension of status for a person who already holds TN status. The employer would file a petition with USCIS to request the change of status or extension of status.
Duration of the TN status: The TN status can be valid for up to 3 years at a time. Keep in mind the following:
Classic lawyer answer: it depends!
The TN is not dual intent. Dual intent refers to certain nonimmigrant (temporary) visa classifications that allow a person to hold that temporary visa classification and simultaneously apply for permanent residence. The H-1B classification is dual intent.
Generally speaking, if a TN applicant is the beneficiary of an I-140 petition (or other immigrant visa petition, whether pending or approved), that is a factor that the officer will consider in assessing immigrant intent. That is, a person is not automatically ineligible for admission in the TN category just they are the beneficiary of an I-140 petition, but it’s also not guaranteed that they would be admitted. Once a person files the I-485 application for adjustment of status or applies for an immigrant visa, they are no longer eligible for admission in TN status.
The TN is similar to the H-1B classification, but there are a few key distinctions, including: