Nonimmigrant: NAFTA TN Professional

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships for the United States, Canada and Mexico. The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.

Among the types of professionals who are eligible to seek admission as TN nonimmigrants are accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. You may be eligible for TN nonimmigrant status, if:

  • You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  • Your profession qualifies under the regulations;
  • The position in the United States requires a NAFTA professional;
  • You have a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer (but not self-employment - see documentation required below); and
  • You have the qualifications to practice in the profession in question.

TN Professional Details

Eligibility, Port of Entry, Duration, & Dependents

Information about eligibility, U.S. entry, duration of stay, and families of TN nonimmigrants can be found on the TN NAFTA Professionals webpage provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  
  • A petition is not required for U.S. entry as a TN nonimmigrant, though there are rules of entry based on whether the TN nonimmigrant is a Canadian or Mexican citizen. 
  • As part of the U.S. entry process, the TN nonimmigrant must present evidence of employment in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer at a professional level. A letter of employment from the University of Oklahoma (see below) should be used as this part of the documentation in a TN visa application.
  • Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the United States may be included as part of the documentation in a TN visa application.
  • Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted.

Grace Period

Effective January 17, 2017, the TN classification now has two grace periods of up to 10 consecutive days. The rule allows an initial grace period of up to 10 days prior to the start of an authorized validity period to provide the worker a reasonable amount of time to enter the U.S. and prepare to begin employment with his or her employer. The rule also allows a second grace period of up to 10 days after the end of an authorized validity period to provide a reasonable amount of time for the TN worker to depart the U.S. or take other action to extend, change, or otherwise maintain lawful status in the U.S. 

Letter of Employment from OU

The OU hiring department must give the TN nonimmigrant a Letter of Employment in the United States that they will use when entering the U.S. The letter must indicate that the position requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity consistent with a NAFTA TN Professional. The employment letter or contract should state the following:
  • Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged;
  • Purpose of entry;
  • Anticipated length of stay;
  • Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
  • Evidence of compliance with federal regulations, and/or state laws; and
  • Arrangements for pay.


OU departments are responsible for the payment of the fees described below for TN Professionals.

Departments cannot require the TN worker to reimburse or otherwise creatively compensate the university for costs connected with a petition filing.

All family-related application and petition expenses are considered personal expenses and must be paid by the individual.

Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker on USCIS Form I-129

  • Initial U.S. entry for a TN Professional does not require a petition or filing fee.
  • Transfer (sequential), change of status petitions: $460 base filing fee
  • Extension of current status with university: $460 base filing fee

USCIS Premium Processing Service

USCIS provides expedited processing for $1,225 in addition to the above fees. University guidelines require departments to provide justification for this cost. Review the University Visa Fee Policy in the Documents section of this page for more information.

Office of Immigration Services (OIS) Fees

OIS offers immigration services provided by an in-house immigration attorney and administrative staff. These services are currently provided at no charge to the department or participant. OU remains one of the few schools offering these services at no charge. Requests that require expedited attention or do not provide minimum notice to our office may eventually force our office to charge fees.


Scammers Posing as US Law Enforcement are Targeting Chinese Citizens Attending US Academic Institutions for Financial Gain. See more information here.

While many formal restrictions on international travel have been lifted, logistical concerns surrounding flights and quarantine policies, as well as visa operations at numerous U.S. embassies/consulates worldwide, continue to impact overseas travel.

  • Consular Processing: Visa processing in many countries continue to be delayed, with limited visa appointment availability. Third Country National (TCN) visa processing is increasingly limited or has been suspended in certain countries, including Canada and Mexico.   It is strongly advised to schedule a visa appointment prior to departure from the U.S., especially if you will not be processing in/traveling to your Home Country, i.e. a TCN request.  Please use the Department of State Website to better understand processing times at the consulate of your choice. Individual consulate websites will also help you better understand current visa processing procedures at that site, including whether an interview will be required.  First-time applicants for a visa of a given type could be referred for secondary processing resulting in additional delay. For applicants applying for the same category of visa they have held before, this risk is reduced. Remember to consider whether you have any dependent family members that may also require visa processing. 
  • India: Please contact the US Consulate(s) in India for specific information on consular processing which is experiencing significant delays in visa appointment scheduling even for Indian nationals.
  • China: China continues to maintain their Zero Tolerance Policy to COVID-19. Travelers to China may experience a quarantine for a period up to 21 days when entering the country before they can continue on to their final destinations. Travelers have also reported that finding flights into China are hard to come by and, when available, very expensive.
  • Form I-94: An electronic Form I-94 is issued to almost all non-immigrant visa holders during the admission process at the U.S. port of entry. Inspect your Form I-94 carefully each time you enter the US to ensure that you and your family (if applicable) are admitted in the correct status for the full length of your approved status. If either the status or expiration date are incorrect, it may be necessary to take corrective steps to prevent violations of your immigration status and from accumulating time in unlawful presence, which may result in a 3-10 year bar to re-entry into the U.S.
    • Form I-94 at Land Borders: Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requested that travelers apply for their Form I-94 and prepay online before arriving at a land border. The announcement also contains travel tips, including pointers on monitoring border wait times and understanding customs and other policies surrounding border travel.
  • General Unpredictability: As the nature of the pandemic and global operations evolve, governments and companies continue to adapt and change their policies to ensure the public health and safety. You should carefully monitor U.S. and foreign Covid-related travel restrictions.   

Consider This

Volunteering and moonlighting refer to activities outside the scope of the foreign national's employment authorization and my not be allowed for this visa. Review more information about volunteering and moonlighting


For Use by OU Departments
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There are numerous nonimmigrant employment-based visa categories.  In all cases, the foreign national must meet specific requirements related to the occupation for which the employer is petitioning. 

Under no circumstances should the hiring department make any guarantee of sponsorship to a foreign worker for any immigration benefit.  Due to the complexity of employment-based sponsorship, it is impossible for any employer to guarantee that its efforts to secure USCIS employment authorization will be successful.

Foreign workers will be required to follow the New Hire appointment process for employees of OU. Positions that are eligible for sponsorship as a nonimmigrant worker can be found in the OIS University Appointment Eligibility Chart.