The Trade NAFTA (TN) category was developed as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for Mexican and Canadian citizens to work and live in the United States temporarily. NAFTA has since been replaced by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the USCMA. The USMCA adopted the major parts of NAFTA dealing with Mexican (TN-2 Visa) citizens working in the US. Under the USCMA citizens of Mexico are allowed to work in the US under certain USMCA professions in TN-2 visa status. Permanent residents of Mexico are not eligible for TN-2 Visa status. Find out what you need to get TN-2 status as a Mexican citizen.
As a Mexican citizen, how do I qualify for TN visa status?
If you are a Mexican citizen, you can qualify for TN visa status if you meet the following qualifications:
- You are a Mexican citizen (Permanent residents of Mexico do not qualify).
- You have an offer of employment from a US-based company or will be servicing a contract for a US company.
- You will be working under one of the listed USMCA (NAFTA) professions.
- You meet the minimum education and/or experience requirements for the profession.
- You can demonstrate that your employment will be temporary.
TN Visa Professions & Occupations List
As a Mexican citizen, how do I apply for TN visa status?
If you are a Mexican citizen, you must first obtain a visa to enter the US under TN-2 visa status. You can apply in two ways:
- Directly at a US embassy or consulate. Once approved you will receive a TN visa stamp in your passport that allows you to seek entry to the US in TN visa status. After entry, CBP will issue an I-94 that will include the dates you have been approved to work, the employer you are authorized to work for, and the profession that you have been approved to work in. Although you may receive a 4-year TN visa stamp, you are only authorized to work for the dates listed on the I-94 not to exceed 3 years per admission.
- If you are already in the United States under another legal immigration status, and you have maintained that status, your potential employer can file a Form I-129 Petition with USCIS to change your status to TN-2 Visa status. You will not be able to start working until you receive approval from USCIS.
What do I do after I receive my TN visa stamp?
After receiving your TN visa stamp at a US embassy or consulate, you can apply for admission to any of the designated US ports of entry with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP will then issue you an I-94. The I-94 will include the dates you have been approved to work, the employer you are authorized to work for, and the profession that you have been approved to work in. Although you may receive a 4-year TN visa stamp, you are only authorized to work for the dates listed on the I-94 not to exceed 3 years per admission.
How do I get my CBP Form I-94 Record?
What if I am already in the US with valid TN visa status and want to change or add employers?
A TN visa is employer-specific. If you would like to change employers you must first obtain approval from US Immigration before you start working for the new employer. There are two possible ways to add a new employer if you are already inside the United States with valid TN visa status:
- Mexican citizens can file for a change in employer or addition of an employer, directly with USCIS through a Form I-129 Petition. You must first receive approval from USICS before commencing work for the new or concurrent employment. This can take 1-2 months with standard processing. Premium processing through USCIS Form I-907 can be used to expedite the processing of an I-129 Petition to 15 days.
- Mexican citizens that have a valid TN visa stamp in their passport, may change their employer or add an employer directly with CBP at a US port of entry. This is done by exiting the United States and re-entering with the proper supporting documents to apply for a new TN Visa for the new or concurrent employment. It is important to be properly prepared if you choose this method as it is often challenged by CBP Officers.
How do I extend my TN visa status while inside the US?
TN visa status is generally approved for the duration of employment for a maximum of 3 years at a time plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after it ends. Keep in mind, that a TN visa stamp may be issued for up to 4 years. Although your TN visa stamp may be for 4 years you cannot be admitted in TN visa status for more than 3 years. You can verify your admission status and dates of admission with your I-94 card. There is no limit on the number of TN extensions you can obtain. If your TN visa status is expiring you can seek an extension in two ways:
- You can extend your TN visa status by exiting and re-entering the US with your current Mexican passport, a valid TN visa stamp, and the proper supporting documentation.
- If you want to extend your TN visa status without leaving the US, your employer can request an extension by filing Form I-129 Petition with USCIS. This can be done up to 6 months before your current TN visa status expires. As long as the extension is filed in a timely manner with USCIS you will be authorized to continue work for the same employer in the same position as your initial TN visa for up to 240 days or until USCIS issues a final decision.
Our US Immigration Services for Mexicans
Additional Outside Resources
- USCIS: TN NAFTA Professionals
- CBP: TN Visa
- DOS: Visas for Canadians and Mexicans
- CBP: TN Status for Mexican Citizens
We Can Help!
The immigration lawyers at Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law have more than 30 years of experience helping Mexican citizens to live and work in the United States under TN Visa status. Contact us today for an assessment of your legal situation.