TN Visa: Registered Nurse

Background of TN Visa Category

The TN visa occupational category for Registered Nurses was first listed in the United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1989. See 54 Federal Register 12 (Jan. 3, 1989). The predecessor to NAFTA, the FTA provided work authorization under TC visa status, which was only available to Canadian citizens. The occupational category for Registered Nurses was carried over and included in the NAFTA list of available occupations in 1994. See 58 FR 69205 (Dec. 30, 1993).

TN Visa Applicant Requirements

To qualify for TN visa status under the occupational category for Registered Nurses, an individual must possess one of the following:
  • State / Provincial License; or
  • Licenciatura Degree.
The legacy INS' NAFTA Handbook provided additional information on licensing: "The prospective employer must submit evidence that the beneficiary has been granted a permanent state license, a temporary state license or other temporary authorization issued by a State Board of Nursing authorizing the beneficiary to work as a registered or graduate nurse in the state of intended employment in the United States." NAFTA Handbook, pg. 126.

In elaborating on the licensing requirements for Registered Nurses, in a 1989 memo the legacy INS stated that the "other temporary authorization" acceptable for a license “may take varying forms: for instance, a letter or a receipt for processing of the application for permanent licensure.” Puleo Memo. The INS advised its officers to facilitate applications, they should “apply a liberal standard” in assessing this requirement. Id.

The NAFTA Handbook also stated that a Registered Nurse's admission to the U.S. under TN visa status should not be limited to the expiration date of his/her temporary state license or other nursing authorization document. NAFTA Handbook, pg. 136.

The regulations governing TN visa status generally do not provide any guidance on the type of degrees or majors suitable for a particular TN occupational category. To determine the types of degrees suitable for Registered Nurses for purposes of a TN visa, we may refer to U.S. Department of Labor publications such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). See Royal Siam Corp. v. Chertoff, 484 F.3d 139, 145 (1st Cir. 2007).

Read more about the TN visa degree requirements.

Health Care Worker Certificate (Visa Screen) Requirement

Individuals applying for TN visa status under the Registered Nurses category have to obtain a Health Care Worker (Visa Screen) certificate before they are able to obtain TN visa status. See Health Care Worker Certifications.

TN Visa Job Duties Requirements

The TN visa regulations do not specifically define the types of Registered Nurse positions or job duties that are permissible under this TN category. Like the degree requirement, individuals should refer to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) for guidance on the generally accepted job duties for this occupation.

Read more about TN visa job duties.



Revised Sept. 19, 2014.