North American Free Trade Agreement

The North American Free Trade Agreement is a free trade agreement among Canada, the United States and Mexico. Using valid NAFTA claims for preferential tariff treatment, importers can save a significant amount on Customs duties.  Our trade compliance professionals are well versed in assessing the advantages of using this treaty and many similar treaties around the world.

It is important to recognize that preferential duty treatment only applies where properly claimed.  False NAFTA claims can quickly subject importers to steep Customs penalties, seizures, and even fraud charges.  To claim NAFTA correctly, importers must conduct a thorough, technical analysis of the countries of origin of parts and components.  Under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, importers should carefully verify whether they qualify for tariff shifts and Regional Value Content where applicable.

Additionally, exporters who sign NAFTA certificates could be responsible for any errors on the certificates themselves.  NAFTA certificates are frequently incorrect, which can lead to delays and even seizures and penalties.  An incorrect NAFTA certificate can invalidate the NAFTA claim altogether.

Our team of attorneys and compliance professionals is experienced in NAFTA trade compliance and enforcement, and can guide importers on NAFTA compliance to maximize duty savings.  From Customs penalty matters to country of origin analyses, our team has the expertise needed to guide a company through complex matters efficiently.

The NAFTA Professional

The NAFTA Professional (also known as the TN Visa, TN1 Visa and TN Status) allows Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States in positions classified as professionals or NAFTA Professional. Gardere’s immigration law attorneys provide dedicated advice and assistance to NAFTA professionals who are applying for their TN visa. Our team is expert in relieving clients of the difficulty in completing the application by patiently navigating them through the process step-by-step, ensuring they fulfill all procedural and material requirements needed to apply.

With many members of the team being fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, French, Chinese and a number of other foreign languages, we are able to effectively communicate with clients in what may be their native tongue. Our team is committed to not only making the TN visa application process more manageable, but we are also diligent in educating our clients about NAFTA and TN visas, as well as providing applicable context related to how the process works and can be expected in terms of both time frame and success in obtaining the desired immigration benefit.

NAFTA Visa Requirements for NAFTA Professionals to work in the United States:

  • Must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico.
  • Profession must be on the NAFTA Professional job list.
  • The U.S. job requires a NAFTA Professional.
  • The Mexican or Canadian applicant will work for a U.S. employer; self-employment is not allowed.
  • The Mexican or Canadian applicant is qualified for the NAFTA profession.

Requirements for Canadian Citizens

NAFTA Professional Canadian citizens do not need visas to work in the U.S., but they do need to apply for what’s called “TN Status.” Spouses and children who are dependents and under 21 may be granted a trade dependent visa when accompanying the holder of the NAFTA Professional; they will not be eligible for employment but they will be able to attend school.

A Canadian citizen can apply for the TN NAFTA Visa (or TN Status) at a U.S. Port of Entry with the following:

  • Request for a TN Status admission to a U.S. Immigration Officer
  • A TN NAFTA employment letter showing proof of professional employment
  • Proof of professional qualifications (degree, transcripts, etc.)
  • Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship

Requirements for Mexican Citizens

As of Jan. 01, 2004, Mexican citizens are not required to petition approval or file labor condition application. They are no longer subject to numerical limits for the TN NAFTA Visa professions. However, Mexican citizens are still required to have a visa to request admission to the United States.

Mexican citizens may apply at consular sections around the world for TN NAFTA Professional – TN Visa. Part of the visa application process requires an interview at the embassy consular section for most TN NAFTA Visa applicants. TN NAFTA Visa applicants should call and schedule the interviews in advance, as wait times for an interview can take up to several weeks.

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