U.S. Law Center

TN nonimmigrant status for Canadian and Mexican professionals

When it comes to obtaining a work visa and moving to California, people who have a higher level of education and/or experience often have more options. Professionals who are citizens of Mexico or Canada have an option not available to foreign nationals from other countries because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. They may qualify for TN nonimmigrant status.

Eligibility for this status depends largely on the job.

The position

Individuals wanting TN nonimmigrant status cannot simply move to the United States and begin a job search in their field. They must have a position already lined up with a U.S. employer. It can be full time or part time, but the job duties must require the knowledge and skills of a NAFTA professional.

A foreign national with this status may stay in the United States for up to three years initially. It may be possible to seek an extension and remain in the country.

The profession

NAFTA acknowledges the potential for special relationships between the United States and its neighboring countries. The specific professions that qualify individuals for TN nonimmigrant status foster economics and trade. In most cases, professionals must have at least an undergraduate degree. Many professions require a graduate degree or doctorate, whatever licensure the home country requires and some experience in the field.

Economists, mathematicians, engineers, architects, teachers and librarians are just a few of the professionals that may qualify. Medical professionals have their own category. Eligible professions in this list include the following:

  • Physician
  • Registered nurse
  • Physical therapist
  • Psychologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Dietitian
  • Dentist

Some professionals can only take jobs in specific settings. For example, a medical laboratory technologist or medical technologist may work in a lab performing certain types of tests or analyses to prevent, treat or diagnose diseases.

Family members

TD nonimmigrant status allows dependents to live in the United States with the state nonimmigrant. They may retain the TD status only as long as the TN status lasts. They may attend school in the U.S., but they may not hold jobs.

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