TN Visa Program Survives Trade Talks


The TN visa program has survived the recent trade talks between the United States, Canada and Mexico despite the Trump administration’s earlier calls for limiting it.  The TN visa allows certain Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the United States. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) was announced publicly by the White House on October 1, 2018.

The TN visa program originated in the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), which was signed into law on December 8, 1993.  Under this program, Canadian and Mexicans can come and work in the United States in certain occupations.  An offer of employment by a U.S. employer is required and the Canadian or Mexican national generally must have a degree in the field of the profession in which s/he will work.  Unlike other nonimmigrant employment-based visas, the TN visa does not impose any salary requirements and there is no annual limit to the number of TN visas available each year.  

Although TN visa-holders and their employers can breathe a sigh of relief, there has been greater scrutiny of TN petitions and more restrictive interpretation of certain occupational categories following the Trump Administration’s Executive Order, “Buy American, Hire American (“BAHA”).  Specifically, the Economist category has been the subject of a formal USCIS policy memorandum issued on November 20, 2017, clarifying that Financial Analysts no longer qualify for TN visas under the Economist category and narrowing the range of positions that could qualify as an Economist.

 It remains to be seen how the other TN occupational categories will be treated as US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Homeland Security continue enforcement of the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order.

This update is for informational purposes only.  Please contact us if you would like to discuss this development further.

Nadia Yakoob