The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.
Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. To be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, an alien must:
Be a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
Alien's profession qualifies under the regulations;
The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
Have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment); and
Have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.
Unlike Mexican citizens, Canadian citizens are generally eligible for admission as nonimmigrants without a visa. The TN category, a nonimmigrant classification, simply reflects this general exemption from the visa requirement. NAFTA governs which evidence is required to prove whether a Canadian or Mexican citizen is a professional in a qualifying profession.
Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate. They may establish eligibility for TN classification at the time they seek admission to the United States by presenting required documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at certain CBP-designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station.
Mexican citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States as a TN nonimmigrant by applying for a TN visa directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.