Applying for a TN visa can be confusing. Here's a list of steps to get you started.
The TN Visa is a type of US work visa that is only available to citizens of Canada or Mexico. In order to qualify, the applicant needs to have a job offer in the United States, and the job needs to be on the Nafta List of Professions.
If you meet those requirements, the TN Visa is pretty great because, unlike the H1B, there's no annual numerical limit, which means you don't need to wait in line. It's also cheaper than applying for an H1B and, although there's a three year limit on each TN Visa, it can be extended indefinitely.
If you are a citizen of Canada, you do not need to apply for a TN visa at a US embassy or consulate. Instead, you can apply directly at the US border to be admitted in TN status. Your accompanying spouse and children will be eligible to apply for a related status called "TD".
If you are a citizen of Mexico you must apply for the TN visa at a US consulate or embassy abroad. Your accompanying spouse and children will be eligible for a related visa known as a TD visa. Each family member applying for a visa through the embassy or consulate must submit online Form DS-160 Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa.
The US Government charges filing fees for the applications that you file. If applying at a US embassy or consulate, you will need to pay the visa application fee for Form DS-160, which is $190. Instructions for paying this fee along with instructions for scheduling a visa appointment will be found on the website of the US Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for the visa. The receipt for the fee payment will be needed when scheduling a visa appointment.
If you are a Canadian citizen applying for TN status directly at the US border, you will need to pay a $56 fee to US Customs and Border Protection on the spot.
When you complete Form DS-160 Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa you will be required to upload a passport-style photograph of yourself. The file must be in JPEG format. You could also take an actual photo and have it scanned. Please follow the detailed digital image requirements.
Submit a copy of the employment offer you received from the US employer. If there is an employment contract, submit a copy.
Your US employer must provide you with a letter which describes the position offered to you. The letter must establish that the position for employment in one of the NAFTA professions.
The letter should mention your purpose of entry, a detailed description of your business activities or job responsibilities, your anticipated length of stay in the US, your educational qualifications or credentials, and arrangements for your pay.
If a license or governmental permission is required to practice your profession, submit a copy.
Spouses and children of TN visa holders are eligible for the TD visa. If your spouse and/or child will accompany you to the US, you must submit proof of the family relationship, which will be your marriage certificate for your spouse and the birth certificate(s) for your children. When you go to the visa interview or apply at the border you must carry the originals of these documents, but make an extra photocopy of them as well, that you can submit if requested to do so.
If you are already lawfully in the US in TN or another status, and you want to extend your TN status or if you will change to TN status instead of going abroad, you do not need to submit the DS-160 visa application as above. Instead your US employer will file Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and its TN-Classification Supplement with a $325 check or money order payable to US Department of Homeland Security. This petition will, upon approval, extend or change your status.
For your spouse and children, you must also file Form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Nonimmigrant Status with a $290 filing fee, which must be a check or money order payable to US Department of Homeland Security. You must Include proof of your relationship to the family member(s), which will be your marriage certificate for your spouse and birth certificate(s) for your children.
If you are applying for a change of status as explained in the preceding paragraph, submit a copy of your I-94 arrival/departure record to demonstrate that you are presently in legal status. If you most recently entered the US by air or sea before April 2013, the I-94 is the card that was inserted into your passport and you should submit a photocopy of this card (front and back sides).
If you entered after April 2013, you can obtain their I-94 number online. If you arrived other than by airplane and do not have an I-94 card, you must submit other proof of inspection and admission, such as a copy of a stamped page of your passport. If you are seeking to extend your TN status, submit the approval notice for any previous Form I-129 petition your employer filed on your behalf.
Documents submitted in a language other than English must be accompanied by a translation.
The translator must attach a statement certifying that he or she is "competent to translate from [foreign language] to English, and the translation of the document is correct and true to the best of the translator's knowledge." The certification form should include the translator's name, signature, address, and date of certification.
Anyone fluent in English and the foreign language may serve as a translator.
Applications are made either directly at the US border (Canadians only) or at a US embassy or consulate abroad (both Canadians and Mexicans).
However, if you are seeking a change or extension of status, your US employer will mail Form I-129 and accompanying initial evidence to the appropriate USCIS filing address.