The North American Free Trade Act (“NAFTA”) authorizes citizens of Mexico and Canada to enter the United States, temporarily, to engage in business activities at a professional level. To qualify and obtain a TN Visa, individuals must have at least a baccalaureate degree or the requisite credentials, which is deemed necessary to be successful to perform and complete tasks in a profession outlined in the NAFTA.
The Profession. The professions that demonstrate the performance of business activities at a professional level eligible for the TN Visa under the NAFTA, are set forth in 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 at Appendix 1603.D.1. These professions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Animal Breeder
- Animal Scientist
- Plant Breeder
- Poultry Scientist
- Research Assistant
- Scientific Technician/Technologist (including agricultural sciences)
- Soil Scientist
See 8 C.F.R. § 214.6, Appendix 1603.D.1 for a complete list of the professions that qualify and the credentials demonstrating status as a professional in the professions.
One of the most important documents these individuals need to obtain a TN Visa is a letter from their intended employer detailing the individual’s qualifications and intent to perform business activities at a professional level for the employer.
The Employer’s Letter.
For entrance into the United States to perform these business activities, both citizens of Mexico and citizens of Canada must prove their intent to engage in the activities for an employer. The NAFTA does not authorize entrance for an individual to establish his own business. Illustration of the intent to engage in business activities at a professional level must be evidenced by a letter, outlining the following information, from the individual’s intended United States employer:
- Identify Appendix 1603.D.1 Profession. Clearly list the position the individual is conditionally hired to perform upon his entrance into the United States.
- Daily Job Duties. The document must describe the business activities the individual will perform and provide a brief summary of the individual’s daily job duties. Advising the consular of the individual’s position title alone, will not suffice.
- Credentials. In addition to identifying the profession, the employer must outline how the individual qualifies for engagement in business activities in the specified profession. This section of the letter should be specific, including not only the type of degrees the individual has, but also his certificates, professional licenses, and an itemization of prior experience in the profession. If the individual has a resume or curriculum vitae, attach that to the letter as well.
- Duration. The document should outline the anticipated duration of the individual’s stay in the United States for employment with employer. Three (3) years is the maximum time period for the TN Visa, unless a Form I-129 requesting an extension has been approved. Extension requests must be made before the expiration of the TN Visa.
- Compensation. The individual’s agreed upon salary must be identified in the employment letter.
It is recommended that the employer’s letter containing the required information for the issuance of a TN Visa be a separate document from the employment offer letter provided to the applicant/individual seeking entrance into the United States to work for employer. If the employer intends to utilize the offer letter as evidence of the individual’s intended engagement in business activities at a professional level, the letter should clearly state that the individual’s employment (1) is at-will; or (2) may be terminated with cause under enumerated circumstances.
This information is general in nature and should not be construed for tax or legal advice.