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How Can a Canadian Get a Work Visa in the U.S.?

TN Visa for Canadian Professionals

The North American Free Trade Agreement allows for professionals from Canada to work temporarily in the United Sates. The visa is called the TN NAFTA work visa.

To be eligible for the TN NAFTA work visa, a Canadian must be college educated and be coming to work in the United States for an American company in the field that the person is educated in. In other words, a Canadian with a teaching degree is not able to obtain a TN NAFTA work visa to enter the United States as anything but a teacher. There are limited fields that qualify for the TN visa, and all of them require at least a bachelor's degree.

The TN visa is not a permanent status; it is temporary and an end date must be specified before work begins. If an extended stay becomes necessary, the employer can request an extended stay for the employee.

Applying for the TN Visa

A Canadian wishing to apply for TN Visa status must fill out the Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156. The person must also have a passport for travel into the United States with a proper, current photo. In addition, a Canadian wishing to get a TN Visa must have proof of employment. In other words, a job must already be lined up. A Canadian will not be granted TN status to come to the United States to look for a job.

Permission to Work Without TN Visa

In many instances, a Canadian can be granted TN status without actually possessing a TN visa. A Canadian citizen can request TN status at any port of entry as long as proper documentation is presented. The requirements are a formal request for TN status, a copy of college transcripts to prove professional status and a letter to show proof of employment with an American company. In addition, the Canadian citizen must have proof of ability to receive professional licensing in the United States and either a passport or birth certificate. A fee of $50 must also be paid. This proper documentation will allow a Canadian to receive TN status to work in the United Sates without obtaining a TN Visa.

Children and Spouses

A Canadian in the United States on a TN Visa or with TN status can work temporarily in the United States, but the children and spouse of the person cannot legally work in the United States unless they obtain their own TN status as Canadian professionals working in approved jobs. Children and spouses of Canadian professionals may, however, go to school in the United States during their stay.


R.J. Bowman has a Bachelor's degree in accounting with a minor in English from Pensacola Christian College. After college, she taught English to seventh graders until becoming a mom. At that time, she found freelance writing to be a great way to keep her writing skills sharp.