Cross Border Movement of Business Persons

Temporary Entry into the United States and Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement

A Guide for Canadian Businesspersons

Published by Global Affairs Canada

3. Professionals

Under the NAFTA, certain Canadian Professionals may enter the United States and Mexico to carry out professional activities for an employer or on contract to an enterprise located
in a member country. This includes performing training functions or conducting seminars related to your profession.

Professionals are exempt from the job-validation process normally required of individuals seeking to work in another country.

Your profession must be one of the 63 listed below (also refer to the interpretive notes below).

General
Medical/Allied Professionals
Scientists

Teachers

Key to Number Symbols

1 = Baccalaureate Degree
2 = Provincial License
3 = Post-secondary Diploma or Certificate
4 = Three Years Relevant Experience

Interpretive Notes

Certification requirements for Health-Care Workers

Certain health-care workers must meet specific certification requirements to enter and work in the United States. On July 25, 2003, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a final rule amending the interim regulations affecting certification requirements for certain health-care workers entering the U.S. to provide health-care services.

The regulations cover workers in seven health-care occupations: Registered nurses; physical therapists; occupational therapists; speech language pathologists; medical technologists; medical technicians; and physician assistants.

To enter the U.S. to perform labour as a health-care worker in these occupations, you must first have your credentials evaluated and certified.

If you are a member of one of these professions, you should contact your professional association. If you have a job offer or are currently working in the U.S., you may wish to contact your U.S. employer.

How do I qualify as a NAFTA Professional?

You may qualify as a NAFTA Professional if:

What documentation do I need at the border?

At a U.S. or Mexican port of entry, you must establish that you qualify as a NAFTA Professional.

You should carry with you Proof of Canadian Citizenship (ideally, your Canadian passport) and a letter from your prospective employer, or signed contract, outlining the purpose of your entry. This will assist in your inspection by U.S. and Mexican immigration officials.

The letter or contract should include:

United States

How can I apply as a Professional?

You may apply for entry to the U.S. as a NAFTA Professional at major land border ports of entry or airports handling international flights with pre-flight inspection stations. There is no written application, and no prior petition, labour certification or prior approval required for Canadians applying for admission to the U.S. under the TN classification status. However, you will need to provide evidence that you meet the requirements of the category, as outlined in the above section, “What documentation do I need at the border?”.

You will be issued an I-94 (Record of Entry Document) indicating the TN classification code, which serves as your employment authorization. You should present the I-94 to the U.S. Social Security Administration to receive a social security number. Please note that there is a processing fee for the TN employment authorization.

Professionals must comply with all applicable state and local certification, registration or licensing requirements before starting work. You should contact the state where you wish to
work for additional information on certification requirements.

Self-employed businesspersons may not enter the united states to be self-employed or to establish a professional practice. Professionals must have a pre-arranged contract with a u.s. enterprise. Businesspersons looking to establish a business in the u.s. may wish to apply for temporary entry in either the intra-company transferee or trader and investor category.

How can I change or renew my status?

TN status is generally issued for one year and may be renewed indefinitely provided that you are able to demonstrate that you have no intention of pursuing full-time employment in the United States.

You may change or add employers while in the U.S. by filing Form I-129 (Petition for Temporary Worker) at:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87129
Lincoln, NE 68501-7129

Please keep in mind that there is a fee associated with filing an I-129 and that applications take up to three months to process. You can find up-to-date information regarding forms and fees on the USCIS Web site.

You should remain in the U.S. while your application is being processed. Leaving the country at this time may negatively affect the successful completion of your application. You may not work for a different or an additional employer until United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the petition.

Alternatively, you may depart the U.S. and apply for re- entry to obtain an employment authorization with a new or additional employer. For more information, including on premium processing, please visit the USCIS Web site.

Mexico

How can I apply as a Professional?

To work in Mexico as a Professional, you will require an approved FM-3 Form, which you can obtain from a Mexican embassy or consulate in Canada, from a National Migration Institute office within Mexico.

You can also enter Mexico with a Multiple Migratory Form (FMN), which you can obtain at no charge from most travel agencies and airlines or at a Mexican port of entry. (The FM-3 form is not issued at Mexican ports of entry.) The FMN is valid for up to 30 days. However, before starting work in Mexico you must obtain an FM-3 form. You will also need to obtain a professional identity card from the Directorate General of Professions of the Ministry of Education before engaging in your profession.

When applying for an FM-3 form you must demonstrate that you meet the qualifying criteria as a NAFTA Professional. FM-3 forms are valid for one year but you may request up to four extensions of one year each before you need to get a new form. Please keep in mind that there is a processing fee for the FM-3 form.

Regardless of where you apply for the FM-3, the following information will be required:

The letter from the company in Mexico must contain your full name and address, request an FM-3 Visa, and refer to the attached documentation. In addition, it should explain the purpose of your trip, the arrangements for payment, and the location(s) of work within Mexico. Also, make sure that you provide the information required to demonstrate you meet the requirements of a NAFTA Professional as outlined in the above section, “What documentation do I need at the border?”. If applying from Canada, you must forward four copies of each document. An immigration office must validate your visa within 45 days of your arrival in Mexico.

How can I change or renew my status?

If you wish to change your temporary residency status, you can apply in Mexico at a National Migration Institute office. If you are seeking an extension, you must make a declaration that there has been no change in the purpose or circumstances of your original entry.

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