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.

HR International Faculty and Staff Services (IFSS) Office Fees

IFSS 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.

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
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa
Campus: Norman, OUHSC, Tulsa


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 IFSS University Appointment Eligibility Chart.