Temporary Employment: TN Status Classification

The TN nonimmigrant classification was created by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), and applies exclusively to Canadian and Mexican citizens temporarily entering the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.

The TN category is open to Canadian citizens (not permanent residents) who seek employment in the U.S. under selected professions. A list of commonly used TN qualified professions can be viewed by clicking here:

The TN Category gives Canadian NAFTA professionals a huge advantage over similarly skilled professionals from other countries: no H-1B quota, no LCA and an  instant decision at the border.

Processing is available upon departure from Canada at any Class A Port of Entry. Unlike the H-1B category, which is unavailable for most of the year, the TN can be readily obtained in short notice and is available year round for qualified professionals. This gives Canadian professionals a significant advantage over other non-American applicants.

TN status can be issued for up to three (3) years at a time and renewed indefinitely subject to continuing to maintain “nonimmigrant intent” and sufficient ties to Canada. And unlike the H-1B category, there are no yearly quota caps.

There are important issues to be aware of when obtaining a TN work authorization:

Spouses are issued TD status but do not have the legal right to obtain work authorization unless they can independently qualify under the TN or other category.

TN is not a  “dual intent” category  – only “non-immigrant intent” is allowed.  In the event that the applicant has the intention to immigrate to the U.S. or later commences other procedures to immigrate to the U.S. requires careful examination of this issue.

Most TN professions require a baccalaureate degree as the qualifying academic credential. A few categories require an advanced degree (e.g., Librarian), The big exception is also one of the most popular professions: “Management Consultant”. This profession requires either a bachelors degree OR five years experience in a specialty related to the applicant’s area of expertise.

Issues regarding qualifications:

The USCBP adjudicating officer will want to see the original degree. Careful attention must be given to cases where the degree is not directly related to the field in which the alien will work in TN status. If a sufficient nexus can not be found then it is best not to apply in this category.


Law Offices of Terry T. Preshaw, P.S. forwards our retainer agreement to company or TN applicant.

Company and TN applicant provide information necessary to begin the case.

Information and documents are reviewed and organized by Law Offices of Terry T. Preshaw, P.S. who then performs legal analysis and develops case strategy.

Documents: TN Application Preparation

Law Offices of Terry T. Preshaw, P.S. prepares TN application documents for company.

Company and TN applicant review documents for accuracy, revisions are reviewed by Law Offices of Terry T. Preshaw, P.S.

USCBP (United States Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security)

Lawyer Terry T. Preshaw meets with client (either in person or telephonically), discusses procedures and reviews TN application along with supporting documents.

TN applicant personally presents the TN application to USCBP adjudicating officer at a U.S. Class A Port of Entry, or at “Pre-Flight Inspection station”, located within a major Canadian international airport.

USCBP officer electronically issues the applicant “I-94” document (available on line within a few days of adjudication), and will stamp passport, providing work authorization for the specific U.S. employer.

Finalizing Work Authorization

Successful TN applicant may need to obtain a U.S. Social Security Number by presenting evidence of TN status.

Company will need  to provide Form I-9 to applicant if applicant is a direct employee.