Talento | Employers

TN Visa: A Work Visa That Works! Learn How to Apply, Requirements, Costs, Documentation and More

by Carlos A. Vázquez    |    December 4, 2019    |      6 min read


what is a TN / NAFTA visa, application process, requirements, costs, documentation and more.

When considering to offer a job to a foreign professional, there are usually questions about the relocation options, process, and cost of employment-based immigration visas. Work visas – as they are commonly known – are a convoluted topic often obscured by political reasons. There are even some visa types that are not well known by the general public. In this post, we aim to provide you with information on one of the lesser-known visas for Canadians and Mexicans – The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional Visa or TN Visa.

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What is a TN visa?

Back in 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed, a new working visa type was created: TN visa.

The objective of this visa was to facilitate the flow of professional talent between Canada, Mexico, and the US. It provides a legal frame that protects everyone involved and ensures that the professional hired is qualified. Since it’s structured under the NAFTA, its legalities work differently and are easy to navigate. You, as an employer, only require to provide the following documents for TN Visa:

  1. A letter saying that you’re hiring this person and for what purpose.
  2. A document that explains how this person will get paid and how much will the salary be.
  3. A job offer extended to the person applying for the TN visa.

In Mexican territory, the prospective employee will need to go through a simple application process. Just remember, your Mexican candidate applying for the work visa must demonstrate that they are qualified for the job they are being hired; the requirements are included in the professions list provided by the NAFTA for qualified professionals. You can find the official list here.

The TN Visa application process in a nutshell:

  • Send the job offer, employment letter, and contract to the candidate,
  • The candidate should fill a DS-160 form online and gather official documentation.
  • Schedule an interview with the USA embassy.
  • Pay the cost for the TN Visa. (learn about all visa fees)
  • Have the interview and submit documentation.
  • In case of success, the candidate will receive the TN visa.
  • If the visa is rejected, the candidate can choose to reapply at a future date.
  • How long does it take to get a TN visa? The visa can take anywhere from a few days to months; it depends on the embassy or consulate where the process is made.

Is the TN visa the same as H1-B?

No! People tend to relate “working visa” with H1-B, a complicated, expensive, and limited in quantity visa. The TN visa is different, and it’s exclusive for Mexicans or Canadians hired to work in the USA.

The H1-B visa is the most known type of visa. If you ask any foreign, non-Mexican or Canadian, workers in the USA, they are most likely to have one. Only 65,000 H1-B visas are released every year; they can cost up to $5,000 USD and require a lengthy application process. Since this is the most used working visa, those 65,000 visas deplete as soon as they are released. These visas are available to any legally formed company, from a small five-person startup to a Fortune 100 company.

This is not the case for TN visas. This work visa costs around $160 USD (always check the official websites).

Without getting into much detail, H1-B visas are those to which citizens from all over the world can apply to, TN visas are only for Mexican and Canadian citizens.

This doesn’t mean that Mexicans can’t obtain an H1-B visa; it only means that there’s another type of working visa for them.

Which visa should I look for? H1-B Visa vs. TN Visa

It depends on what your foreign professional is looking for and how long they want to stay. If they are not interested in a residency, a TN visa is recommended over an H1-B, as it allows for indefinite renewal every three years and no yearly cap on how many can be issued. H1-B has a cap, and, after six years, they would need to leave the USA for one year.

TN visas are cheaper, faster, and generally easier to get. There is no real significant advantage for the H1-B Visa over the TN Visa.

Should I hire an immigration lawyer?

As a general recommendation, it is always smart to do so. Although this can add up to the cost, a consultation with an immigration lawyer in Mexico can start at around $20 USD per hour. You might need only one or two hours to complete the whole process.

Why do I recommend this? Although the process is pretty straightforward, immigration laws are rapidly changing. They can also advise your prospective employee on how to craft documents and reduce the risk of being rejected or having to reapply.

What happens if the candidate has a spouse?

As long as they are legally married, they can get a TN visa to accompany your candidate to the USA. This is a TD Visa. In order for their family to obtain it, they will need your TN visa, legal documentation that provides proof of marriage or parenthood with the child (unmarried, under 21).

However, the spouse, or children, can’t be employed holding said visa.

In Summary

One could say that the benefits of the TN visa are higher than those of the H1-B one. However, this visa is only for Mexican and Canadian citizens because it was originated under the NAFTA. People who don’t possess citizenship from any of these countries can’t get a TN visa.

Remember to visit the official websites for updated and precise information. As mentioned before, the process to obtain a TN visa is quite straightforward, and it ensures that you are getting a really prepared element for your company.

As a reliable partner for your hiring needs, CodersLink takes care of your employees’ relocation details and immigration paperwork required for them to start working and ensures that everything runs smoothly and without a problem.

Hiring great talent from abroad is really not difficult, and through NAFTA’s framework, you are ensured that the person you are getting is actually qualified.

I hope I have shed some light on how easy it is to get great foreign talent. Don’t be afraid to explore this possibility.

Thanks for reading, and please let us know all your questions.


The above information is for awareness purposes. The information shared in this post should not be taken as official or replacement of official information provided by federal authorities. Find details about the TN visas to work as NAFTA professionals.

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