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 is to become the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement: With the signing of the USMCA Implementation Act by U.S. President Trump, the implementation of the new free trade agreement is one step closer.

The USMCA agreement is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) concluded in 1994.

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 margins of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Mexico was the first to ratify the agreement at the end of October 2019, while the Americans and Canadians were more hesitant.

Initially blocked by the Democrats, the agreement was approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in Washington before Preident Trump signed the agreement.

In this respect, the USCMA agreement has yet to be ratified by the Canadian Parliament.

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.

Of course we will keep you informed about further developments.