TN Visas Explained: A Comprehensive Guide for Canadian and Mexican Professionals

Updated on April 30, 2024

Are you a Canadian or Mexican professional looking to work in the United States? The TN visa, created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), may be the perfect option for you. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of the TN visa, including eligibility requirements, the application process, costs, and processing times.

30 Second Recap:

The TN visa allows qualified Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the U.S. in specific occupations under NAFTA. To be eligible, you must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico, have a job offer from a U.S. employer in a NAFTA profession, possess the required education/experience, and meet licensing requirements. The application process differs slightly for Canadians and Mexicans, with varying fees and processing times.

What is a TN Visa?

The TN visa is a nonimmigrant work permit that allows qualified Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the United States in specific occupations. This visa is based on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the three countries.

TN Visa Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a TN visa, you must:

  1. Be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  2. Have a job offer from a U.S. employer/sponsor in one of the NAFTA-listed professions
  3. Possess the required education and/or experience for the profession
  4. Meet any applicable licensing or certification requirements

Read this guide to learn more about the requirements for a TN visa. For more information about TN visa sponsorship, check out this guide.

TN Visa Application Process

The application process for a TN visa differs slightly for Canadian and Mexican citizens:

Canadian Citizens:

Canadian citizens can apply at a U.S. port of entry or pre-flight inspection with:

  1. Proof of Canadian citizenship
  2. Job offer letter from a U.S. employer
  3. Evidence of professional qualifications
  4. Fee payment

Mexican Citizens:

Mexican citizens must apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico with:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Job offer letter from a U.S. employer
  3. Evidence of professional qualifications
  4. DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application
  5. Fee payment

The final step in the TN visa application process is to attend a visa interview. To learn all about the interview format and questions, check out our guide to the TN Visa Interview.

TN Visa Cost

The TN visa application fees differ based on the applicant’s country of citizenship:


  • No application fee when applying at a US port of entry or pre-clearance location
  • $50 USD border crossing fee (I-94W fee) upon US entry


  • $160 USD nonimmigrant visa application fee when applying at a US embassy or consulate
  • $190 USD border crossing fee (I-94 fee) upon US entry

Note that fees may change, so it’s important to verify the latest information on official US government websites. For a more comprehensive look at these costs, check our our guide to TN Visa Costs.

TN Visa Processing Time

TN visa processing times vary depending on the workload of the U.S. port of entry or consulate. For Canadian citizens, the decision is typically made on the spot at the port of entry. Mexican citizens may need to wait a few days or weeks for their visa interview and processing.

TN Visa Duration

A TN visa is typically valid for up to three years. However, the actual validity period granted may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your application, such as:

  1. The length of your employment contract or offer letter.
  2. The requested validity period in your application.
  3. The discretion of the immigration officer reviewing your application.

Learn more about TN visa validity and duration here.

TN Visa Renewal

Yes, a TN visa can be renewed or extended indefinitely, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements and your employment remains temporary in nature. Check out this guide to learn how to renew your TN visa.

TN Visa Rights and Restrictions

TN visa holders have certain rights and restrictions while working in the US.

They can bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 on TD visas, but TD visa holders cannot work.

TN visa holders must pay applicable taxes and may be considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes.

Transitioning to an H-1B visa or green card is possible but can be complex.

Buying a home is allowed, but factors like visa status and finances should be considered. Mortgages can be obtained from American lenders or Canadian banks in the U.S.

Changing employers is also possible, butrequires obtaining a new TN visa approval before starting work.

Final Thoughts

The TN visa offers a fantastic opportunity for Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the United States. By understanding the requirements, application process, costs, and processing times, you can be well-prepared to take advantage of this visa category. Remember to consult with your employer and the appropriate U.S. government agencies for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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