Loyola University Chicago

International Student and Scholar Services

TN - Canadian or Mexican

TN Visa — North American Free Trade Agreement for Canadian and Mexican Citizens

The TN visa category is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter the United States to engage in professional business activities on a temporary basis. There is no U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) limit on the number of workers granted TN status each year.

The TN visa category requires that the applicant:

  • Is a citizen of Canada or Mexico. Landed immigrants or permanent residents do not qualify.
  • Enters the U.S. on a temporary basis.
  • Possesses the minimum qualifications of one of the professions specified in Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA treaty. The Appendix also stipulates the minimum qualifications for entry into the U.S. in each occupation. (See list of designated professional occupations.) The most common minimum requirement is a Baccalaureate degree and licensure, if required for the profession. A foreign national must have licensure before he or she can obtain TN status.

NOTE: If a Canadian or Mexican citizen obtained his or her credentials in a country other than Canada, Mexico, or the U.S., USCIS may request that the alien obtain an equivalency evaluation from a reliable credential evaluation service.

Additional Information for OTHER Selected Occupations

The following occupations have additional criteria that must be met to qualify for a TN visa.

PhysiciansTN physicians are limited to teaching and/or research activities. A TN physician cannot be primarily engaged in clinical patient care. This rule applies even if the TN physician obtained his or her medical education in a U.S. medical school. Patient care incidental to teaching/research is permissible. Canadian physicians seeking entry to participate in residencies, internships or direct patient care must use the J-1 or H-1 classification.
NursesCanadian nurses must be licensed by the state of intended employment.
Medical Laboratory Technologists/Medical TechnologistsThe term “medical technologist” does not include allied medical occupations such as radiological technologists, respiratory specialists and nuclear medicine technologists.
Healthcare WorkersNurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical technicians/technologists, speech/language pathologists and audiologists, and physician assistants must obtain a certificate from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or an equivalent independent credentialing organization before being eligible for TN status.
Management ConsultantsThis category is limited to:
• Independent consultants coming to render services to a U.S. employer on a particular project
• Employees of consulting firms contracted by a U.S. business to render services
• Employees of U.S. companies hired for special projects rather than for existing positions or newly-created permanent positions.

  • Both Canadian and Mexican citizens can be admitted to the United States in TN status in increments of up to three years.
  • There is no cumulative time limit on TN status. Status can be renewed each year indefinitely, provided that the stay remains temporary in nature.
  • Extensions of stay are granted in up to three year increments.
    • Canadians can apply for an extension of TN status either at a U.S.-Canadian pre-flight or port-of-entry inspection facility or by filing an application for extension of stay with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Nebraska Service Center. Procedures and required documentation are the same as for new entries (port-of-entry) or change of status (USCIS).
    • Mexican citizens can apply for extension of stay through the USCIS Nebraska Service Center or depart the country and apply for a new TN visa at a U.S. consulate. Procedures and required documentation are the same as for initial entry or change of status.

Processing Times

Processing requirements differ for Canadians and Mexicans. Mexican citizens are required to obtain TN visas from a U.S. consulate before they can enter the U.S. in TN status. Canadian citizens are exempt from this requirement.

How to Apply for a TN Visa

Loyola departments are responsible for preparing TN employer letters on behalf of Canadian or Mexican employees. If you have questions about the letter or TN application process, contact Mary Theis at mtheis@luc.edu 773-508-3899.

Canadian Citizens

Most Canadians apply for TN status either at a pre-flight or port-of-entry inspection facility while entering the U.S. from Canada. The admission process for Canadian citizens includes:

  1. A review of the required documentation by a Department of Homeland Security officer.
  2. Acceptance of the filing fee
  3. Issuance of a Form I-94. The Form I-94 should be annotated with the appropriate date and port-of-entry information, the classification in the TN category (TN-1 for Canadians), an expiration date of up to three years from the date of admission, a “multiple-entry” notation and the employer's name.

Mexican Citizens

The TN requirements for Mexican citizens are the same as for Canadian citizens except that Mexicans are also required to obtain a TN visa at a U.S. consulate. The application process includes an interview and an ink-free fingerprint scan. Interviews are generally by appointment only. For information about scheduling an appointment and other instructions, visit the U.S. Department of State Links to United States Embassies and Consulates Worldwide web site. For information about visa wait times, visit the U.S. Department of State Visa Wait Times web site.

Mexican citizens require the following documents:

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-156)
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DW-157) (required for male applicants ages 16-45 only)
  • Passport valid at least six months into the future
  • One 2x2 photograph (Refer to the U.S. Department of State Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements
  • Other documentation listed in Documentation Needed except the $50 filing fee and Form I-94 filing fee.
  • $100 Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-156) processing fee

Changing to TN Visa Status

If a Canadian or Mexican applicant is present in the U.S. in another visa status, he or she may choose to file an application with USCIS if he or she wishes to avoid travel to Canada or Mexico and re-entry. This process is much less time efficient. Most applicants choose to travel to the port-of-entry to obtain TN status.


Dependents of TN status holders (spouses and children under 21) are admitted in TD (Trade Dependent) status. TD status holders are not authorized to work the U.S., but they may attend academic institutions either part or full-time.

Dependents of Canadian Citizens with Canadian Citizenship

Canadian citizens do not need visas. They can either apply for TD status at the port-of-entry at the same time as the TN or at a later time with copies of the TN's I-94 card and employment letter. They must show proof of relationship to the TN, as well as Canadian citizenship. There is no fee required for the TD application, but the I-94 card fee applies.

Dependents of Canadian Citizens Who Do Not Hold Canadian Citizenship

Dependents of Canadian citizens who do not hold Canadian citizenship are required to have TD visas. They must apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate prior to admission to the U.S. Their visa application should include the TN's letter of employment, copy of the TN's I-94 card (if already in the U.S.) and a copy of marriage or birth certificate. If they are already in the U.S. on a different nonimmigrant status, they may apply to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center for a change of status using Form I-539, with the above documentation enclosed.

Dependents of Mexican Citizens with Mexican Citizenship

Mexican citizen dependents of TNs require TD visas. They may apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate or they may apply for a change of status through the USCIS Nebraska Service Center following the same procedures as non-Canadian dependents of Canadian citizens.

Travel Outside the U.S. and Reentry

TN status holders may depart and re-enter the U.S. any time during their TN stay. Canadians should carry their original Form I-94. Mexican citizens, dependents, and non-Canadian dependents of Canadian TNs must carry a passport valid for six months into the future and a valid I-94 card in order to re-enter the U.S. following travel.

NOTE: Travel outside the U.S. while a change of status is pending is considered abandonment of the application.