TN Visa and TD Visa - Treaty NAFTA

Work visa for skilled workers from Canada and Mexico

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created free trade relations between the United States, Mexico and Canada. As a result a special U.S. work visa was created for Canadian and Mexican nationals. We explain which requirements must be met and whether the adoption of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will affect the TN visa NAFTA Professional.


What is a TN visa?

Mexican and Canadian nationals can work in the USA on the NAFTA Professional nonimmigrant visa. The abbreviation "TN" stands for Treaty NAFTA.

The so-called NAFTA professionals include

  • Business consultants
  • Engineers
  • Lawyers
  • Computer scientists
  • Economists
  • Scientists

The requirements for applying for a TN (Treaty NAFTA) visa are met if:

  1. Your employee has Mexican or Canadian citizenship,
  2. There is a concrete job offer in the United States (no self-employment)
  3. The position offered falls within the NAFTA Professionals area,
  4. Your employee is a NAFTA professional (see above),
  5. A qualified degree (at least Bachelor's degree) of the employee is available.

How do I apply for a TN visa?

The application process for a TN visa is different for Mexican and Canadian citizens:

Mexico Canada
usually: personal interview at the U.S. consulate with presentation of all documents usually: application at the U.S. border (CBP)
alternatively: file the I-129 petition with the USCIS alternatively: application at the U.S. consulate or file the I-I29 petition with the USCIS

The fee varies depending on where or when the TN visa is applied for:

  • In consular proceedings: 160 U.S. dollars
  • In the USCIS application process: 460 U.S. dollars
  • For an application at the U.S. border: 56 U.S. dollars

Canadian employees can use the TN visa

How long are TN visas valid?

In principle, the TN visa is valid for up to three years and can be extended again and again on application for a maximum of another three years.

Further visa extensions are not possible with the Treaty NAFTA visa.

Which visa do family members receive?

For spouses and children there is the possibility to obtain a derived status, the so-called TD status or TD visa. "TD" stands for Trade Dependents.
Please note that it is not possible to apply for a general work permit (Employment Authorization Document, EAD) in this context – it may be necessary to check whether a separate TN visa should be applied for.

Impact of the USMCA Free Trade Agreement

NAFTA has become the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement: The new free trade agreement USMCA has replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was concluded in 1994. The new USMCA trade agreement came into force on July 1, 2020.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), NAFTA rules continue to apply to goods sold on or before June 30, 2020. CBP also announced its intention to provide best possible support for the transition from NAFTA to USMCA by the end of this year.

Picture of a Mexican writing

Mexico first partner to ratify the USMCA agreement

Already at the end of 2018, the USMCA agreement was signed by the three Heads of State and Government concerned on the occasion of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. On January 29, 2020, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act was passed to implement the new free trade agreement between the USA, Mexico and Canada. The agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada was signed on December 10, 2019 and subsequently ratified by all three countries. The final ratification took place on March 13, 2020.

The agreement aims at the immediate or progressive elimination of tariffs and barriers to trilateral trade.

Changes made by the new USCMA agreement

The USCMA agreement is essentially based on NAFTA. The legislation for labor mobility will also remain broadly in place under the new free trade agreement.

Therefore, it appears that the existing conditions for applicants will not change and the denomination TN or TD should also be maintained.