TN Professional Worker for Canadian and Mexican Nationals

students walking through wheat

TN Overview

TN status is for Canadian and Mexican nationals who are engaged in temporary professional activities as defined by NAFTA. For an overview of the TN status, please visit the State Department webpage.

The TN is an employer-sponsored status that can be obtained in three-year increments. UC Davis uses the TN classification primarily to employ Mexican and Canadian citizens in temporary research and teaching positions.  The TN status can only be used for Mexican and Canadian citizens employed in a profession that appears on the NAFTA List of Professions.

The TN status can be an advantage over the H-1B as it is generally less expensive to obtain and can be extended indefinitely.  However, unlike the H-1B, it can only be used for specific professions and it cannot be used to employ faculty or staff in a permanent position, such as the position of tenure-track professor.  Finally, the TN status is appropriate for otherwise qualified part-time positions on campus whereas the general policy for the H-1B status is that employees be full-time.

How to obtain TN status

There are two methods for obtaining TN status:

  • Change of Status or Extension (application filed within the U.S.)

For Canadian and Mexican citizens who are already in the US and are not willing or able to travel to their home country, SISS will assist departments in filing a change of status or extension of TN status inside the US.  This involves a recharge fee to SISS and a processing fee for USCIS.  Please refer to the TN Temporary Worker Packet on our Department Forms and Handouts webpage for instructions on how to request a TN change or extension of status, the department responsibilities, the documents needed, and fees for filing. 

  • Entry to the US (no filing of documents inside the US-no I-129 form or fees required from the Department)

Mexican citizens must request a visa at a US Embassy or Consulate in order to enter the US as a TN.  Canadian citizens need only present their documents at a port-of-entry and do not need a visa to obtain TN status when entering the US.  In both cases, the department needs to provide an appropriate letter of appointment for individuals to request TN status, which includes under what profession the individual qualifies for TN status.  For more information on the required documents and steps to gain TN status through travel to the US, please visit the State Department webpage.  A sample TN letter that departments should provide is found in the Department Forms of the Resources and Forms tab. 

 Documents to Obtain a TN/TD at the Border

  • A letter of job offer, citing the specific TN category for which the person is eligible for a TN (Please refer to the list of TN occupations)

  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Any diploma that is cited as required for the TN (copies and originals)
  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months in future
  • Marriage License and/or birth certificate (if spouse or children applying for TD)

Dependent Visas

The spouse and children (under age 21) of TN visa holders may apply for TD visas to accompany the TN to the United States or to join the TN later. The TN must be able to show his or her ability to financially support dependents in the United States. A TD visa holder could study while in the US but cannot be employed.

Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas to obtain TD status.  Spouses and children of TN visa holders who are not Canadian citizens must obtain a TD visa to enter the US.  In addition, all spouses and children of Mexican TN visa holders will need to apply for a TD visa to enter the US.

A spouse or child(ren) seeking to join a TN NAFTA Professional in the United States must show a valid Form I-94 from the principal TN visa holder and a letter of employment confirmation from the department to show that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining TN visa status.

SISS Advising and Services for TNs

The International Scholar Advisor for TN matters is Gayle Oberlies.  Gayle assists departments with composing a TN letter; accepts completed TN packets from departments and files TN petitions with USCIS; and advises TN scholars at UC Davis.  Please contact Gayle Oberlies with any questions.

In order for SISS to include TN visa holders in our mailings about events on campus and changes in immigration policy, please have TNs complete a “E3/O1/TN Scholar Personal Data Sheet” found on our website under our Scholar Forms.  This should be completed when TNs arrive in the US or any time their contact information changes. 


For all forms, please go to the Forms and Handouts section.