North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Pursuant to NAFTA, Canadian and Mexican citizens may enter the U.S. as business visitors as long as they receive no salary or other remuneration from a U.S. source apart from expense allowances; provide proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship; describe the purpose of entry and provide evidence that they will engage in various occupations, including research and design; marketing, sales, distribution, after-sales service, manufacturing and production. Canadians do not need to possess a non-immigrant visa. Mexicans must present a passport and a non-immigrant visa.
This is an alternative to the H-1B visa for certain Canadian and Mexican professionals. A bachelor’s degree or license is required from a college or university. Sometimes, additional requirements are needed to qualify. TN status is not available for the self-employed, except for Management Consultants, who may be independent contractors with their own consulting business in Canada. Whenever a license is required, either a federal Canadian, Mexican or U.S. license from any province or state, is sufficient.
Some of the professions eligible for TN status are listed here. While some of them require bachelor’s degrees, for other occupations a professional license or a post-secondary diploma plus work experience may satisfy the requirement:
Accountant, actuary, architect, economist, engineer, forester, graphic designer, hotel manager, industrial designer, interior designer, land surveyor, landscape architect, lawyer, librarian, management consultant, mathematician, medical professionals (including clinical lab technologist, dentist, dietitian, medical lab technologist, medical technologist, nutritionist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, physician, physio/physical therapist, psychologist, recreational therapist, registered nurse); research assistant (college and university only); scientists (agronomist, agriculturist, animal breeder, animal scientist, apiculturist, astronomer, biochemist, biologist, chemist, dairy scientist, entomologist, epidemiologist, geneticist, geochemist, geologist, geophysicist, horticulturist, meteorologist, pharmacologist, physicist, plant breeder, poultry scientist, soil scientist, zoologist); scientific technician/technologist, social worker, teacher (college, university or seminary only); systems analyst, technical publications writer, urban planner, veterinarian, vocational counsellor.
Documentation must include proof of citizenship, a letter from the prospective employer outlining job duties, anticipated length of stay, remuneration rate. Applicants must show possession of educational qualification. Canadians will receive an I-94 valid for up to 3 years at the border. Mexicans must obtain a visa at the U.S. Consulate.