Once an individual has confirmed that he/she may qualify for TN visa status, the application may be prepared.

The main components of the application will consist of the following items: 

Additional documents may be required depending on the filing process (see below), complexity of the application (e.g. if previously denied, difficult TN category like the Management Consultant, or atypical fact pattern). 

Filing The Initial Application

U.S. Border - Canadian Citizens

  • As citizens of Canada are exempt from the visa requirement, they may apply for TN status directly at a U.S. port of entry (POE). 8 CFR 214.6 (d) (2)22 C.F.R. § 41.2 (a).
  • Citizens of Canada may apply for a TN at 3 locations: (i) U.S. Class A port-of-entry (“POE”); (ii) a U.S. pre-clearance / pre-flight station (“PFI”); or (iii) an International U.S. Airport (arrivals only). 8 C.F.R. § 100.4 (a).
  • These applications are adjudicated on the spot by USCBP officers. 
  • If an individual plans to submit his or her TN application at an airport, that person must apply the same day as his/her flight.
  • Depending on the particular rules of the port-of-entry, an individual who applies for a TN at a land POE may travel back into Canada the same day after approval of the TN. Each POE has its own rule on this issue.
  • Additionally, how far in advance of the start date an individual may file for a TN is often left open to the discretion of the inspecting officer. It may be prudent to contact the POE in advance to determine any POE specific rules.

USCIS - Canadian Citizens

  • In an effort to address the rampant inconsistencies in the adjudication of TN applications at POEs, USCIS announced in October 2012 that Canadian citizens could file an I-129 petition by mail from outside of the U.S. in order to secure an initial TN. 
  • In addition to the main components of a TN application, individuals must also file Form I-129 along with the I-129 Free Trade Supplement.
  • The I-129 form with supporting documents is then filed with USCIS' Vermont Service Center (as of Oct. 3, 2014).
  • As there is an average processing time of 2 months for an I-129 petition, most Canadian citizens have continued to file their initial applications at a POE in order to obtain their TN status more expeditiously.
  • For an additional filing fee, an individual can apply for premium processing of his/her I-129 petition, and receive a decision on the petition within 15 calendar days. 
  • Individuals can check the status of their petition at any time at USCIS' website by entering their receipt number where indicated. Applicants can also sign up through USCIS' website to receive email updates on their petition’s status. 

U.S. Embassy / Consulate - Mexican Citizens

  • Before applying for admission to the U.S. at one of the designated areas listed above, a citizen of Mexico must first file for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 8 CFR 214.6 (d) (1).
  • In addition to preparing the main components of a TN application, individuals must first electronically file a DS-160 application.
  • In most cases, applicants will submit their documents at a local Application Support Center, and then an attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy / Consulate. 
  • It is important to review the instructions of the U.S. Embassy / Consulate's website for instructions on the application process as procedures may vary.
  • See also How to Apply for a Visa - U.S. Mexico Mission.

Filing Fees

  • Border Applications - Canadians Only: $56 at land port-of-entries; $50 at pre-flight inspection offices (as of 8/28/2018).
  • U.S. Embassy / Consulate - Mexicans Only: $160 (as of 8/28/2018).
  • I-129 petitions: $460 (as of 8/28/2018).
  • I-129 petition premium processing (if needed): $1,225 (as of 8/28/2018).