NAFTA Immigration Agreements

The North American Free Trade Agreement is a special agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico to promote free trade between these three North American countries.

If you meet certain qualifications, you may be able to qualify for a TN category visa, which would allow you to live and work in the United States. In order to qualify under the TN category, you must be considered a professional of your trade or business, and must be a citizen of either Canada or Mexico.

Different Rules for Different Countries

As a Canadian citizen you are usually allowed entry into the United States as a TN nonimmigrant for employment without first needing to get a visa. However, as a Mexican citizen, you will be required to apply for a visa in order to be allowed entry into the United States as a TN nonimmigrant.

Rules for Canadian Citizens

As a Canadian citizen you will be required to provide documents at a U.S. point of entry to a United States Custom and Border Protection official. You will need proof of your Canadian citizenship, documentation from your employer stating the nature of your work, your educational credentials, your expected length of employment, and any fees that might apply to your particular situation. Keep in mind that this is a short list of documents and information you may need to provide.

The United States Custom and Border Protection may, at its discretion, require additional documents or information in order to grant you access to the country under a TN visa. Your employer, however, can file certain forms on your behalf that may speed up the whole process.

Rules for Mexican Citizens

Mexican citizens must acquire a TN nonimmigrant visa before they arrive at a U.S. port of entry, as Mexican citizens are not allowed to apply for the visa “on the spot.”  As a Mexican citizen, you can apply for this type of visa at a United States embassy or consulate in Mexico.

Mexican citizens are initially granted up to three years to remain in the country as a TN nonimmigrant worker. Before your TN nonimmigrant worker visa expires your employer can apply for an extension so that you may continue working in the United States legally, but keeping track of your status and visa expiration date is very important and will fall entirely on your shoulders.

In other words, if you allow a visa to expire while you are still in the United States, you alone will face the consequences which the United States government may deem appropriate – up to and including deportation.

Seeking Legal Help

This has been a short overview for professional workers of Canada and Mexico who wish to seek entry into the United States as a professional under a TN visa.

There are many factors involved to be able to properly apply for and ultimately be granted a visa, so it is highly advised that you contact an attorney who regularly practices immigration law to make sure your visa application process goes as good as possible.