TN (Trade NAFTA)

NAFTA logoIn accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement, a designated group of Canadian professionals are admissible for temporary employment in the United States without petition approval from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Basic requirements and general information

The individual seeking TN classification must be coming to the U.S. to engage in business activities in one of the NAFTA-specified occupations listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of Annex 1603 of the NAFTA. These professionals may enter the U.S. simply by providing documentation at the port of entry that proves they are engaged in one of the designated professions and that they possess the required educational credentials to qualify in the listed professions.

Canadian professionals already in the U.S. (probably in H-1B, L-1 or O-1 status) may choose to apply for TN status within the U.S through an application for change of nonimmigrant status. This type of TN must be processed by Immigration Compliance because it requires filing of an I-129 petition with USCIS. The filing fee for Form I-129 is $325, compared to $56 if processed at the border. Plan ahead—it can take two to four months for processing at USCIS.

Citizens of Mexico: Please note that procedures for obtaining TN status for Mexican citizens differ from the process for Canadians. Contact the Western Michigan University immigration officer for more information at (269) 387-5865.

Duration of stay

May allow up to three years. It may be renewed with no limit of number of extensions.

I-9 process

For I-9 purposes, WMU and a position title must be listed on the TN arrival/departure record (I-94) since the TN category is position- and employer-specific.

Family members

A spouse and unmarried children under 21 are classified in the TD category. They are not allowed to engage in employment in the U.S.

Procedures for admission

Canadian professionals seeking admission to the U.S. in the TN category must present the case for admission at the port of entry. All documents presented should be originals, which will be returned to the applicant after the inspection by the border officials. The TN application consists of the following:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship (i.e. valid passport).
  • Evidence that the intended U.S. activity is one of the NAFTA-specified occupations, which should include a thorough description of the job duties in the form of a cover letter from WMU including a statement that the purpose of the entry is temporary.
  • Evidence that the applicant has the necessary credentials to be considered a professional in one of the specified occupations.
  • Proof of a license to practice the profession if one is required in the state of intended employment.
  • Letter of employment, including remuneration and benefit.
  • Filing fee of $50, plus $6 for issuance of an arrival/departure record (I-94), paid with a personal check or money order.

Any credentials obtained outside the U.S., Canada or Mexico should be accompanied by a credential evaluation. The TN category is position- and employer-specific; it might not be valid for any other position even within the same department. Consult with the immigration officer in Immigration Services prior to making any changes to the terms and conditions of the TN employment.

Canadians traveling by motor vehicle may apply for TN status at a land border crossing post during regular business hours (avoid a.m. and p.m. rush hours) by asking to speak to the NAFTA officer.

Canadians arriving in the U.S. by air are advised to contact the NAFTA office at the Canadian airport from which they will be departing to ask for instructions. Each NAFTA office has its own procedures. Depending on the airport, it may be necessary to submit materials for the TN application several days in advance.

Things to consider (per border officials)

  • Does the letter contain a correct NAFTA job title?
  • Does the letter contain a thorough description of the job duties?
  • Does the letter contain dates of employment, not exceeding three years?
  • Does the letter contain the salary and benefits?
  • Does the applicant meet the NAFTA requirements for employment in the TN classification?
  • Does the applicant have the required educational background for the TN classification?
  • Does the applicant have the necessary license, if applicable?
  • Is the applicant's educational background from a non-U.S. university and has it been evaluated according to U.S. standards?

If the scholar is new to the University, is changing status from student to scholar, or is returning from a gap in employment, advise the scholar to meet in person with the WMU immigration officer prior to beginning or resuming employment at WMU.

Visit the Forms page for the following forms.

  • Change of Address Notification
  • TN Application Checklist
  • TN Request Form (to be completed by hiring department)

NAFTA Professional Job Series List (Appendix 1603.D.1)