TN Visa for Canadians

Canadians can work in the U.S. in TN status under NAFTA

TN Visa for Canadians

You must have a job offer from a U.S. employer before applying for TN status. You cannot apply on your own without such an offer of employment.

The TN visa created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, U.S. and Mexico. While we use the term “visa” for purposes of this article, Canadians are not actually issued a “visa.” Instead, they are admitted in TN status if approved.

As of July 2019, the three countries have agreed to renegotiate NAFTA under a new agreement called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). While Mexico has ratified the agreement, Canada and the U.S. still have not. Even if or when it is fully ratified, it does not appear that TN visas will be in jeopardy. As of now, TN visas are still being issued and all Canadians currently in TN status may continue to work in the U.S.

List of TN Occupations and Professions

Below is the list of occupations and mandatory education and experience that are eligible for TN visas.  If your occupation is not on the list, or if you do not meet the education/experience requirement for a particular occupation, you will not be eligible for a TN visa.

 

Profession

Education and Experience Requirements

General

Accountant

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.

Architect

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Computer Systems Analyst

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience

Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura 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

Economist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Engineer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Forester

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Graphic Designer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience

Hotel Manager

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura 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 or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience

Interior Designer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience

Land Surveyor

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/federal license

Landscape Architect

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Lawyer

LL.B., J.D., LL.L., B.C.L. or Licenciatura Degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar

Librarian

M.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite)

Management Consultant

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura 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 and Statistician

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Range Manager and Range Conservationalist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Research Assistant 
(working in a post-secondary educational institution)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Scientific Technician and  
Technologist

Possession of:
(a) 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 or Licenciatura Degree

Sylviculturist and Forestry Specialist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Technical Publications Writer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience

Urban Planner and Geographer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Vocational Counsellor

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

 

Medical/Allied Professional

Dentist

D.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license

Dietitian

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience

Nutritionist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Occupational Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Pharmacist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Physician (teaching or research only)

M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license

Physiotherapist or Physical Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license

Psychologist

State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree

Recreational Therapist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Registered Nurse

State/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree

Veterinarian

D.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license

 

Scientist

Agriculturist 
(including Agronomist)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Breeder

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Animal Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Apiculturist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Astronomer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Biochemist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Biologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Chemist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Dairy Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Entomologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Epidemiologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geneticist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geochemist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Geophysicist  or Oceanographer

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Horticulturist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Meteorologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Pharmacologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Physicist 
(including Oceanographer in Canada)

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Plant Breeder

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Poultry Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Soil Scientist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Zoologist

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

 

Teacher

College

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Seminary

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

University

Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Advantages of TN Status

There are several advantages to applying for a TN status. First, TN status may be granted for up to three years, the same duration as an H-1B visa.

Second, TN status is easier to have approved than other work visas such as the H-1B. There are two ways to apply for a TN status: 1) in person at a port of entry (POE) to the United States, such as a major Canadian airport or a land border; or 2) the employer files a petition to USCIS.

Should I apply for TN status at a port of entry or through USCIS?

Applying for TN status at a port of entry has several advantages. First, the cost is much less than applying through USCIS. Second, CBP officers will make a decision whether to approve a TN application immediately. On the other hand, applying for TN status through USCIS will take longer and cost the employer much more in legal fees and filing fees. If you are denied TN status at the port of entry, you will be told the reason why and you can attempt to cure any deficiencies in a new application. If TN status is denied by USCIS, it takes a lot longer – and a lot more money – to obtain a favorable decision. You may also be required to leave the United States during this time.

Other disadvantages of TN status

One disadvantage to TN status is that it only applies to a specific group of professions. Specifically, you must qualify under one of the 60+ professions on the professional occupations list in order to be eligible for TN status. Most of these professions require an advanced degree, or at least a bachelor’s degree in a particular area. Other professions require a degree or post-secondary diploma plus verified experience.

A second disadvantage of TN status is that the Canadian citizen must demonstrate an intention to return to Canada upon the expiration of TN status. This is not usually an issue when it is an applicant’s first application. But how does one demonstrate an intent to return to Canada if he/she has been in the U.S. for nine years in TN status and is seeking another three years? By this time, a CBP officer may conclude that the applicant has no intention to return to Canada and thus deny the renewal. If a Canadian citizen has been in TN status for several years, he or she should speak with an immigration lawyer about changing to another visa category, such as an H-1B visa.

A third disadvantage to TN status is that it is more difficult to apply for an employment-based green card. The reason goes back to the “intent to return” rule. If you apply for a U.S. green card while in TN status, this may contradict your stated intent to return to Canada. There are ways to apply for an employment-based green card while in TN status. Contact an immigration lawyer who is experienced in TN to Green Card cases to discuss the logistics for this type of situation.