Obtaining Legal Status In Texas


Zavala Immigration Lawyer Helps Citizens of Canada and Mexico Obtain Legal Work Status in the U.S.

Are you a Canadian or Mexican citizen who would like to legally live and work in the United States? You may be eligible to obtain a nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa 

if your occupation and background fits into one of the professional categories outlined in 

the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

Application Process For TN Visa’s

The TN visa application process can be daunting and time-consuming to navigate on your own. The legal procedures are complex and the documentation required is extensive. A simple administrative mistake during the application process can result in a denied or rejected visa. 

For this reason, it’s advisable to seek the advice and assistance of a qualified immigration law attorney. Zavala Immigration Lawyer, PPLC has substantial experience helping Canadian and Mexican citizens, as well as the employers who sponsor them; with the preparation, filing, and successful adjudication of TN visa applications. 

Schedule a Consultation with a Trusted Houston TN Visa Attorney

If you have a job offer in the U.S. and would like to start the process of obtaining a TN visa, contact Zavala Immigration Lawyer at 713-766-6720 to schedule an appointment today. Founding Member Eliud Zavala is always available for a consultation to discuss your legal options. 

What is the TN Visa? 

The TN nonimmigrant visa category was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which established special economic and trade relationships between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The TN visa permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to come to the U.S. temporarily to work in a professional capacity. 

*NAFTA was renegotiated in 2019 and recently renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). There were no changes made to immigration matters. 

Am I Eligible for TN Nonimmigrant Status?

To qualify for a TN visa, you must meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Your work in a profession that is on NAFTA’s pre-approved occupations list. Eligible professions include accountants, scientists, teachers, pharmacists, computer systems analysts, lawyers and many more.
  • You possess the necessary education (baccalaureate-level degree), qualifications and/or experience to perform in your profession;
  • You have a pre-arranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (self employment is not permitted);
  • The job in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional

Period of Stay

The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa which means you can remain in the U.S. only while working for the employer who sponsored you for the TN position. A TN visa can be granted for a maximum of three years. However, there is no limit to the number of times you can renew or extend your TN visa. 

If you wish to remain after your period of stay expires, you must seek an extension of stay for another three years. This can be accomplished by: 

  • Having your employer fill out Form I-129 and submitting it to the USCIS along with an extension letter on your behalf
  • Departing the U.S. before the date your status expires, and then once abroad, using the same application and documentation procedures required at the time of your initial application for admission as a TN nonimmigrant. 

Permanent Legal Status?


It’s important to know that a TN visa does not lead to permanent legal status or a green card. There is also no path to becoming a U.S. citizen. In order to obtain a TN visa, you must be able to demonstrate nonimmigrant intent by showing that you maintain a home and ties outside the United States. 

TN Application & U.S. Admission Process for Canadian  Professional Workers

If you are a Canadian citizen, you have the option of applying for a TN-1 Canadian work visa at a CBP-designated U.S. port of entry or during a pre-flight/pre-clearance flight inspection at a Canadian airport. 

Document Checklist

Here is what you’ll need to present to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry or at a pre-flight inspection station:

  • Your passport or birth certificate proving that you are a Canadian citizen;
  • A request for admission under TN status to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration officer;
  • A job offer letter or contract from your U.S.-based employer detailing the purpose of your employment, description of your job responsibilities; start and end date; your educational qualifications or experience demonstrating professional status; and arrangements for your compensation;
  • Proof of professional qualifications such as transcripts, licenses, certificates, degrees, resume, and records of previous employment;
  • $56 TN visa fee 

Getting Approved

Zavala Immigration Lawyer can assist with assembling all of the relevant documentation listed above and can write a persuasive cover letter to the CBP officer explaining why you meet the criteria for a TN visa. The CBP officer will grant or deny a TN visa the same day you apply. If approved, the CBP will issue an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record and I-94 card which provides the date and place of admission, the nonimmigrant classification, and the authorized period of stay.

TN Application & U.S. Admission Process for Mexican Professional Workers

The TN visa application process is a bit more complex for Mexican citizens than Canadian citizens. As a Mexican citizen seeking work in the U.S., you must first file an application for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. consulate in Mexico before you can apply for admission to the U.S. under TN status. 

As part of the TN visa application process at the U.S. consulate, you will need to schedule an interview with a consular officer. The waiting time for an appointment may be a few weeks or less but could be longer depending on your embassy. 

Helping Countless Individuals Obtain TN Visas

Zavala Immigration Lawyer has helped countless Mexican professionals successfully prepare for their TN interviews. Eliud Zavala can go over the questions that may come up in your interview and prepare answers for each one. Furthermore, he can make sure you have all the relevant documents ready so that the process goes quickly and smoothly. 

Documents needed for your TN Visa Interview

  • A completed and signed Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 (must be completed by any male applicant between the ages of 16 and 54)
  • A passport for travel to the United States that will remain valid at least six months after your intended stay
  • One (1) 2×2 photograph. 
  • An offer letter or contract from your U.S.-based employer detailing: the purpose of your employment, description of your job responsibilities; start and end date; your educational qualifications or experience demonstrating professional status; and arrangements for your pay.

The consular application filing fee that goes along with a TN petition is $160.

Post TN Visa Interview

After your TN visa interview is complete, you can expect a decision to be made within 7-10 days. If approved, you will receive a nonimmigrant visa stamp which enables you to apply to enter the U.S. at a designated port of entry or pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station. The TN visa stamp is valid for one year. This means you have one year to seek entry into the U.S. however the actual work period can be up to three years. 

TD Visa for Family Members of TN Applicants

If you have a spouse and/or children under the age of 21, they may accompany or later join you in the U.S. under TD nonimmigrant visa status. This visa classification allows your dependants to be granted the same period of stay as you. They will not be permitted to work while in the U.S. but are allowed to study. 

Required Documents for Canadian and Mexican Dependants

  • A valid passport;
  • Proof of relationship to the principal applicant, such as marriage certificate and birth certificate; and
  • Photocopies of entry documents of the principal applicants

TD Visa Procedures for Canadian Family Members

Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas and can obtain TD visa status at a U.S. port of entry either at the same time as the TN worker or after the TN worker has obtained TN status. An inspecting officer will review the documents and issue each dependent an I-94 record with TD symbol for the same period of stay as principal TN visa worker. 

*If your spouse and children are not Canadian citizens, they must get a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

TD Visa Procedures for Mexican Family Members

Mexican citizen spouses and children must first file for a TD visa stamp in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate prior to seeking entry to the U.S. In addition to the documents for TD status listed above, Mexican family members must file a DS-160 application. 

H-1B Visa vs. TN Visa – Which one is Better for Canadians and Mexicans? 

If you are a Canadian or Mexican professional looking to bring your skills to the U.S., you may be unsure whether to pursue a TN visa or H-1B visa. Zavala Immigration Lawyer, PLLC can review the pros and cons of both options with you and recommend the one that best fits your circumstances. In the meantime, here is a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the TN visa. 

Advantages of TN Visa

A Flexible, Streamlined Process

Unlike the H-1B program, Canadian and Mexican nationals who wish to work in the U.S. do not have to go through the lengthy USCIS petition process. If you meet the NAFTA qualifications, you can apply for a TN right away. Canadian citizens can go directly to the U.S. border or preflight inspection at an airport in Canada. Mexican citizens can go directly to a U.S. consular post and apply for a TN visa stamp. 

Unlimited extensions

H-1B visa holders generally have six years of H-1B status whereas a TN visa holder can renew their status an indefinite number of times. 

No Caps or Annual Limits 

There is a congressionally mandated cap on the number of H-1B visas that can be approved every year. In most cases, the number of H-1B visas applicants far exceeds the number of H-1B visas available. The TN visa enables Canadians and Mexicans to avoid this backlog and enter the U.S. relatively easily and quickly provided they have a job offer and the necessary qualifications. 

Cheaper Filing Fees

The TN visa application cost is much lower than that of the H-1B. The TN visa requires a $56 fee for Canadians and $160 fee for Mexicans. H1B visas require a number of different fees including an I-129 filing fee of $460; data collection fees $750-$1,500, and fraud prevention and detection fees $500. 

Disadvantages of TN Visa

Limited Occupations


To obtain a TN visa, your profession must be listed as one of the pre-approved occupations listed in NAFTA/USMCA. There are currently 63 approved occupations. An H1B visa is not limited to specific job categories and only requires a bachelor’s degree to be employed in the U.S. 

No Dual Intent

H-1B visa holders have “dual intent” which means they are allowed to seek permanent residence (green card) as soon as they enter the United States without affecting their current nonimmigrant status. TN visa holders are not allowed to pursue permanent residence or apply for a green card.