TN Visa for Canadians to Work in the U.S.

You must first have a job offer from an employer. You cannot apply for TN status without a job offer.

The TN visa was created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, U.S. and Mexico. 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.

A Canadian citizen in TN status may work in the United States under a professional occupation if:

1) He/she qualifies under the “Professionals Under the North American Free Trade Agreement” list;
2) the Canadian citizen possesses the specific criteria for that profession;
3) the employment position in the U.S. requires someone in that professional capacity and
4) the Canadian citizen is going to work for a U.S. employer.

List of Jobs and Occupations Eligible for TN Visas

The following is a 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 
(including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)

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 visas

There are several advantages to applying for a TN visa. First, TN visas are valid for three years, which means that the TN visa is valid for the same duration as an H-1B visa.

Second, TN visas are easier to apply for, and to have approved, than other work visas such as the H-1B visa. There are two ways to apply for a TN visa: 1) in person at a port of entry (POE) to the United States; or 2) by submitting an application to the USCIS while in the United States.

Should I apply at POE or through USCIS?

Applying at a POE has several advantages. First, the application fee is considerably lower than applying through USCIS. Second, a decision to grant or to deny the visa is made immediately. On the other hand, applying for a TN visa through the USCIS may take a couple of months. If you are denied a TN visa at the POE, you learn the reason for denial right away and you can attempt to correct it immediately. If your TN visa is denied by the USCIS, it takes a lot longer – and a lot more money – to obtain a favorable decision. Worse yet, you may be required to leave the United States during this time.

Other disadvantages of TN visas

One disadvantage to a TN visa is that it applies to a narrow group of professions, making many Canadians ineligible. In fact, you must qualify within a profession on the TN professional occupations list in order to be eligible for a TN visa. Most of these professions require an advanced degree, or at least a bachelor’s degree in a particular area. Some of these professions include: architect, accountant, engineer, graphic designer, lawyer, doctor, management consultant, dentist, pharmacist, and college teacher.

Another disadvantage is that the Canadian citizen must demonstrate an intention to return to his/her home country upon the expiration of the TN visa. This is not usually an issue when it is an applicant’s first TN visa. But how does one demonstrate an intent to return to Canada if he/she has been in the U.S. for nine years on a TN visa and is seeking another three year TN visa? The best way is to provide the documents showing that the applicant continues to maintain ties to Canada. This may be done in the form of bank account statements, a provincial driver’s license, ownership of real estate, or having a spouse, children or other family living in Canada. However, every CBP agent is different – with different moods and personalities. One agent may deny a fourth TN visa while another may think nothing of it and approve you. Always be prepared for a denial by having supporting documents to prove your intent to return to Canada.

An additional disadvantage to a TN visa 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 on a TN visa, this flies directly in the face of your stated intent to return to Canada. There are ways to apply for an employment-based green card while on a TN visa, but it is too complicated to outline in this website.