The TN (Trade NAFTA) visa classification enables citizens of Canada and Mexico to expeditiously obtain employment authorization in the United States by bypassing the cumbersome process required for most other temporary-worker visa classifications.

No Numerical Limitations on TN Visas

  • There is no numerical limitation on the number of Canadian or Mexican citizens that the U.S. may annually admit into the U.S. as TN Visa professionals.
  • When first implemented in 1994, U.S. regulations placed a 5,500 numerical limit on the number of Mexican citizens the U.S. would admit each year under TN visa status. The U.S. government eliminated this numerical limitation in 2004.
  • The lack of a numerical limitation is one of the advantages that the TN visa has over the H-1B visa, which is subject to an annual cap that continues to be exhausted each fiscal year.  

No Labor Condition Application Requirement

  • Employers of Canadian and Mexican citizens do not need to file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor in order to obtain TN visa status.
  • An LCA contains basic information about the proposed employment such as salary and job location. The LCA also contains a set of attestations where the employer promises certain terms of employment such as guaranteeing that the employee receives the prevailing wage for his/her occupation in the geographical area of employment.
  • Employers had to file LCAs in order to employ Mexican citizens under TN visa status until the government eliminated that requirement in 2004. Employers must file an LCA for any H-1B employees.

No Prior I-129 Petition Required

  • Employers do not need to first file an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to obtain TN visa status for Canadian or Mexican citizen employees. Employers had to file an initial I-129 petition for Mexican citizens to work under TN visa status until the government eliminated that requirement in 2004.
  • Employers may use form I-129 to extend the TN visa status of their Canadian or Mexican citizen employees already present in the U.S. under TN status. Employers may also request a change to TN status for employees present in the U.S. under a different non-immigrant visa classification. An I-129 petition may also be used to change TN visa employers. 
  • Employers of H-1B workers must file an I-129 petition.

No Visa Stamp Requirement for Canadians

  • A Canadian citizen does not need to obtain a TN visa stamp at a U.S. consulate in order to enter and work in the U.S. under TN visa status. For the most part, Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa stamp requirement. See 22 C.F.R. 41.2 (a). Instead, Canadian citizens may apply for TN visa status directly at the U.S. border or appropriate airport.
  • Mexican citizens must first obtain a TN visa stamp at a U.S. consulate before they may enter and work in the U.S. under TN visa status. Mexican citizens also generally need a valid TN visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S. under TN status after departure.

Rev. Oct. 28, 2013.