Table of Contents
What is the TN-1 Visa?
The TN-1 visa allows nonimmigrant Canadian citizens who work in certain professions to seek temporary entry into the United States for employment and business activities with a U.S. or foreign employer. Canadian citizens who work in a qualified profession may seek admission with the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at certain CBP-designated ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. Thus, Canadian citizens who work in a qualified profession generally do not need an approved TN-1 visa prior to seeking entry into the U.S.
What are the Eligibility Requirements for the TN-1 Visa?
In order to qualify for the TN-1 visa, an applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Must be a citizen of Canada
- Must work in a qualified profession on the NAFTA list.
- Must have prearranged full-time or part-time employment, and will not be self-employed.
- Must have the requisite qualifications, specific requirements, education, and/or experience to work in the qualified profession.
- Must typically have a baccalaureate degree, though some professions allow qualified experience to be substituted for the baccalaureate degree.
What are Qualified Professions for the TN-1 Visa?
There are numerous professions that are included on the qualified professions list for the TN visa. Most of these professions also require that visa holders have certain post-secondary degrees related to the profession, or have certificates or licensure for the profession and issued by applicable state or jurisdiction. Qualified professions include:
- Agriculturist (including Agronomist)
- Animal Breeder
- Animal Scientist
- College Professor
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Dairy Scientist
- Disaster relief insurance claims adjuster
- Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the United States)
- Graphic Designer
- Hotel Manager
- Industrial Designer
- Interior Designer
- Land Surveyor-
- Landscape Architect
- Management Consultant
- Mathematician (including Statistician and Actuary)
- Medical Laboratory Technologist
- Occupational Therapist
- Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)
- Physician (teaching or research only)
- Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist
- Plant Breeder
- Poultry Scientist
- Range Manager/Range Conservationist
- Recreational Therapist
- Registered nurse
- Research Assistant
- Scientific Technician/Technologist
- Seminary Teacher
- Social Worker
- Soil Scientist
- Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)
- Technical Publications Writer-
- University Professor
- Urban Planner (including Geographer)
- Vocational Counselor
Do Canadian Citizens Need a TN Visa?
Yes. In order to work in the United States as a temporary nonimmigrant in a qualified profession, Canadian citizens must have the TN-1 visa.
However, Canadian citizens are not required to apply for the TN-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate prior to appearing at a United States port of entry. Instead, Canadian citizens may present the required documentation proving their eligibility for the TN-1 visa when they arrive at certain U.S. ports of entry or pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection stations as designated by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
When Canadian citizens choose to apply for the TN-1 visa at a designated port of entry, they must have the following documentation with them:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- A letter from the applicant’s prospective employer that details what the applicant’s profession is, the purpose of the applicant’s employment, the length of the employment, and the applicant’s educational qualifications;
- Credentials evaluation, if applicable, and any applicable fees.
What is the process for obtaining the TN-1 visa?
The application process for the TN-1 visa is primarily employer driven, though the employee will need to provide information and documentation during the process. The steps to apply for the TN-1 visa are described below:
Step One: Employer Files Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
To apply for the TN-1 visa, the applicant’s employer must first review the instructions for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and file Form I-129 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
When submitting the Form I-129, the employer must pay any applicable filing fee and provide all required evidence and supporting documentation.
Step Two: USCIS Processes Form I-129
After the USCIS receives and processes Form I-129, the employer will receive the following in return:
- A receipt notice confirming the petition was received;
- A notice to appear for an interview, if required;
- A biometric services notice, if applicable; and
- A notice of decision.
Step Three: Employee Files Online Form DS-160
The TN-1 visa applicant who will be working for their employer in the United States must complete Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. This involves uploading a photo of the applicant that conforms to the U.S. Department of State photograph requirements. Once Form DS-160 is submitted, the employee must download and print the confirmation page showing Form DS-160 was completed and the filing fee paid. The confirmation page will need to be brought to the visa interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
Step Four: Schedule Interview and Biometrics Appointment
When Form I-129 is approved, the USCIS will send Form I-797, Notice of Action. This may include with it a notice to appear for an interview and a biometric services appointment. The TN-1 applicant is responsible for scheduling and appearing for his or her interview and biometrics appointment.
Step Five: Attend Interview and Biometrics Appointment
The TN-1 applicant (employee) must attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, if requested, where an official will evaluate the applicant’s documentation and ask questions pertaining to why the applicant is seeking the TN-1 visa, including about the applicant’s employment with their employer. The TN-1 visa applicant may be able to schedule the biometrics appointment to take place at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate when the visa interview is scheduled.
Before attending the interview, the applicant should compile certain documentation to bring with them to the interview.
The documents listed below must be brought with the TN-1 visa applicant to the interview:
- Confirmation page for Form DS-160;
- Passport valid for travel to the United States that will remain valid for at least six months beyond the visa holder’s period of stay in the United States;
- Application fee payment receipt;
- Contract or letter of employment that confirms upcoming employment
- Documentation proving the applicant meets the minimum education and/or work experience requirements for the qualified profession.
Step Six: Alternatively, Apply at U.S. Port of Entry
As stated above, Canadian citizens who qualify for the TN-1 visa may otherwise seek entry into the United States without first obtaining the TN visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Instead, qualified Canadian professionals can apply for TN nonimmigrant status at a United States CBP port of entry.
At the CBP port of entry or pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station, the TN-1 visa applicant will be asked questions about his or her eligibility. Applicants should be prepared to pay any inspection fees at the port of entry where they seek admission. The prospective worker also must provide:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship;
- Approval notice from USCIS for form I-129;
- A copy of form I-129; and
- All supporting documentation submitted to USCIS.
Can TN-1 visa holders study in the United States?
Yes. TN-1 visa holders may study full-time or part-time while in the United States so long as the original conditions of the TN-1 visa are adhered to. If the educational program lasts longer than the period of validity for the TN-1 visa, the visa holder should apply for a student visa that would permit them to remain in the United States for the purpose of completing their education. Continuing education is not a valid basis for extending the TN-1 visa.
Can TN-1 visa holders switch employers while in the U.S?
TN-1 visa holders are only permitted to work in the U.S. for the employer named on the TN visa. TN-1 visa holders who want to change their employer must apply for a new TN-1 visa based on the new employer and employment.
Can TN-1 visa holders apply for a green card?
No. Unless there is some other basis for applying for a green card, such as marriage to a U.S. citizen, TN-1 visa holders are not permitted to apply for a green card based on their TN-1 visa status. This is because the TN-1 visa is not a “dual intent” visa, which means that TN-1 visa holders must have the intent to only live in the U.S. temporarily when they are issued the TN-1 visa.
How much does it cost to get a TN-1 visa?
The application fee when filing Form I-129 is $460, which is commonly paid by the employer. The cost to file Form DS-160 is $160.
There is no issuance fee applicable to Canadian citizens following the approval of the visa. Canadian citizens who achieve visa status at a CBP port of entry must pay an additional fee of $6 for their I-94 arrival/departure card.
An additional $2,500 may be paid for premium processing, which will expedite the approval process for receiving the TN-1 visa.
How long is the TN-1 visa valid?
TN-1 visa holders may stay in the United States for up to three years. If a TN-1 visa holder wishes to remain in the United States beyond three years without first departing the United States, the visa holder must seek an extension of his or her stay by having his or her employer file form I-129 on the visa holder’s behalf.
Alternatively, TN-1 visa holders may depart the United States before the date their visa expires and apply at a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station using the same application and documentation provided at the initial application for admission as a TN-1 nonimmigrant.