Once you meet the general eligibility requirements for a TN Visa, you then have to meet the qualification requirements for your TN profession, including education and/or experience.
The TN Visa education requirements can be confusing and often difficult to understand. When looking at the list of TN Visa professions, specific degree concentrations are not listed. There are professions where you can qualify for a TN Visa with a Bachelors’s Degree, a diploma or a certificate plus years of experience, or sometimes even experience alone. This complicates the process of determining your TN Visa degree requirements under the USCMA (NAFTA).
Do I meet the education and/or experience requirements for a TN Visa?
TN Visa Education Requirements: Degrees, Certificates, & Diplomas
When determining whether or not your education meets the minimum TN Visa degree requirements for your profession, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Field of study. Both CBP and USCIS have determined that the TN Visa Degree Requirements under the USCMA (NAFTA) require a degree, certificate, or diploma to be in the field of study or in a closely related field. It’s not a requirement for the degree earned to exactly match the degree listed for the TN Visa profession. In many cases, a TN Visa applicant with a degree in a closely related field, along with transcripts that indicates a course study related to the TN Visa profession, can qualify for TN Visa status. For example, a TN Visa Accountant must have a degree in accounting, finance, or a field closely related to accounting.
- North American degree. Your degree must be from the US, Mexico, or Canada. If your degree is from outside North America, you must obtain a credentials evaluation to determine the equivalency of your degree to a US degree.
- Post secondary diploma. Under the USMCA (NAFTA), a “post secondary diploma” means a credential issued by an accredited academic institution in Canada or the US upon completion of two or more years of post-secondary education.
- Post secondary certificate. Under the USMCA (NAFTA), a “post secondary certificate” means a certificate issued by the federal government of Mexico or a state government in Mexico upon completion of two or more years of post-secondary education at an academic institution recognized by the federal government or a state government, or an academic institution created by federal or state law.
- At least two years of study. Degrees, certificates, and diplomas for courses of study less than two (2) years DO NOT meet TN Visa education requirements.
- No IT certificates. IT certificates DO NOT meet TN Visa education or degree requirements.
Can I apply for a TN Visa if I just finished school but I haven’t received my actual degree yet? You may still apply for TN Visa status if you have finished school and graduated from your course of study. You must show proof that you finished your studies through transcripts and a letter from your school indicating completion of your studies.
TN Visa Experience Requirements
When determining whether or not your experience meets the minimum TN Visa requirements for your profession, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Letters of reference. The experience must be supported by letters from former or current employers attesting to the experience. The letters should include the position held, the duties performed, and the dates of employment.
- No résumés or CVs. A résumé or CV is considered self-serving. Neither CBP nor USCIS will accept a résumé or CV as proof of experience to meet TN Visa experience requirements.
- You can add education to an experience requirement. For TN Visa professions that allow experience as a qualification, you can combine experience with related education. This is common with TN Visas for management consultants.
How are my education and experience evaluated for a TN Visa?
TN Visa Credentials Evaluation
If your degree is from outside North America, you must obtain a credentials evaluation, which includes a foreign degree equivalency evaluating the degrees to their US equivalency. This evaluation is performed by an independent credentials evaluator or a school official who has the authority to make such determinations and is acting in his or her official capacity with the educational institution.
When undergoing a credentials evaluation as a part of your TN Visa application process, keep in mind the following guidelines:
- You cannot replace missing education requirements with experience. Unlike the H-1B Visa, you CANNOT combine experience with degrees to meet the minimum degree requirements. The credentials evaluation must only consider your degree and supporting transcripts.
- Bring original documents to in-person appointments. CBP requires you to bring your original degree, certificate, and/or diploma when applying in person for a TN Visa.
- Get your transcripts. When there is a question about whether your degree is in a specific field of study or a closely related field, provide your supporting academic transcripts. Some CBP Officers will insist on your original transcripts.
- Do NOT send originals in the mail. When filing for a TN Visa by mail, only submit legible copies of all supporting degrees and related transcripts.
- Provide English translations. If your degree is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by an English language translation.
We Can Help You Apply for TN Visas
At Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law, we focus our legal practice on the Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States. Our specialized practice has allowed us to gain particular expertise with the preparation, filing, and successful adjudication of TN Visa applications (particularly on behalf of Canadians), including new applications, renewals, extensions, denials, and all other TN Visa related matters.
Our Resources for TN Visas
Helpful TN Visa Templates
Additional Outside Resources
- USTR: United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement
- USCIS: TN NAFTA Professionals
- USCIS: NAFTA (TN) Visas
- USCIS: I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
- USCIS: I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
- USCBP: TN Visa Eligibility Checklist (PDF)
- USCIS: Chapter 9 – Evaluation of Education Credentials
- USDOS: Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker
- USCIS: I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service
- USCBP: Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W
- Silvergate Evaluations (for Degree Equivalency)
Important TN Visa Memos
- MEMO: USMCA Professions List, Appendix 2 of Annex 16-A
- MEMO: 9 FAM 402.17, USMCA Professionals, TN & TD Visas (December 6, 2021)
- MEMO: TN Visa Education Requirements (May 8, 2013)
- MEMO: Appendix 1603.D.1, TN Visa NAFTA Professions Defined (May 8, 2013)
- MEMO: TN Visa Immigrant Intent (April 21, 2008)
- MEMO: Employment of Canadian and Mexican Professionals under NAFTA (March 16, 2005)
- MEMO: TN Visa Licensing Requirements (October 26, 2004)
- MEMO: TN Visa as a Scientific Technician / Technologist (November 7, 2002)
- MEMO: TN Visa Computer & Software Engineers (August 1, 2000)
- MEMO: TN Visa Self Employment (February 5, 1996)
- MEMO: TN Visa as a Physician (April 10, 1995)
- MEMO: Federal Register, TN Visa Licensure Requirements (December 30, 1993)
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