United States visas for professional workers in Canada

The North American Free Trade Agreement offers temporary visas to nonimmigrant professionals. NAFTA is an economic/trade relationship that exists between Mexico, Canada, and the United States -- and it offers different trade benefits to ease commerce between the three nations. One of those benefits relates to the granting of temporary visas to Canadian and Mexican professions.

The visa is called the "NAFTA Professional" or "TN" visa, and it allows Canadians and Mexicans to temporarily work in the United States while they are completing prearranged business tasks. According to the official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this visa is available to professionals who meet the following entry criteria:

-- The applicant is a Canadian or Mexican citizen.

-- The individual's profession is qualifying under U.S. regulations.

-- The position requires the NAFTA professional.

-- The individual has a prearranged part-time or full-time job inside the United States with a U.S.-based employer, but the position is not considered self-employment.

-- The applicant holds necessary qualifications to carry out the profession in question.

Canadian citizens specifically do not have to apply for this visa at a U.S. consulate. They can simply apply for the TN visa when they are entering the United States by showing the necessary information to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at either a pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station or a CBP-designated port of entry. Here is what Canadian citizens need to provide:

-- Documentation showing Canadian citizenship

-- A letter from the prospective employer that shows the applicant's professional capacity that will be used in the United States, the reason for employment, time to be spent in the United States and professional qualifications.

-- Any credentials evaluation where applicable.

Canadian professionals seeking entry into the United States for work purposes may wish to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer first. This will ensure that they have appropriate documentation to present at the border and they have made sufficient preparations for successful entry.

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "For Canadian and Mexican Citizens," accessed Aug. 04, 2016

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