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Hiring TN, O-1 & E-3 Employees

TN Employees

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) established a nonimmigrant visa classification for Canadian and Mexicans professionals who wish to work in the United States. This nonimmigrant status is available only to qualified members of certain pre-determined occupations and allows for the expedited admission of these professionals. Individuals in the covered professions are eligible to enter the US in TN status. Mexican citizens are eligible for TN status, but the process is different. Contact OISS for further information/procedures to process a TN for Mexican citizen.

Advantages and Disadvantages of TN Compared to H-1B Status


  • It covers a broad range of occupations.
  • It is quick to obtain and less paperwork.
  • There is no limit on the length of time an individual can hold TN status.
  • If the individual is subject to 212(e), two year home country residency requirement stemming from J-1 status, may be able to get TN status when H is not available.


  • It only covers the occupations listed in the free trade agreement. The applicant must be coming to the U.S. for the purpose of employment in one of the NAFTA professions on the NAFTA Job Professional List.
  • There is no recognition of dual intent (intent to become a permanent resident of the U.S.) since TN's are deemed to be temporarily entering the U.S.
  • Tenure track professors are not advised to hold TN status and may encounter difficulties in entering the U.S. in TN status because they may be perceived to have dual intent. 

TN Processing and Admission Procedure

Canadians may apply for TN-1 classification directly at Class A ports of entry to the US or at pre-flight stations in Canada. A citizen of Canada may be admitted to the U.S. in the “TN” category under NAFTA if they meet the following requirements:

  1. The applicant is a citizen of Canada. Documentation must include proof of Canadian citizenship.

  2. The applicant is otherwise admissible to the U.S. and not excluded under any of the existing exclusionary grounds.

  3. The applicant must be coming to the U.S. for the purpose of employment in one of the NAFTA professions on the NAFTA Job Professional List.

  4. The applicant must be making an official entry into the US.

  5. The applicant must pay the required $50 filing fee and the $6 fee for each I-94 card issued (one will be issued to each family member when applicable) in US funds, either cash or a check drawn on a US bank.

  6. The applicant must provide evidence of degree and years of experience (where required). Any degree from a university outside of Canada or the US individual must obtain a credential evaluation to present at the port of entry.  At the port of entry, bring original documents including degree and copies for submission.

  7. The applicant must present a letter from U.S. employer. Host departments can use the TN Host Department Letter Template (MS Word).

  8. The applicant must provide evidence of compliance with all applicable state laws and/or licensing requirements for the occupation, if applicable.

  9. The applicant should bring a copy of their resume or CV.

  10. If dependents will be joining the applicant, they apply for TD visa status. Proof of marriage or birth documents are required at the port of entry. TD dependents include spouse and minor children and are not eligible for employment authorization.

Learn more about how to work in the U.S. as a TN on the Department of State website.


O-1 Employees

The O-1 nonimmigrant category is for the employment of individual aliens who have achieved and sustained national or international acclaim for extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics or aliens who have demonstrated a record of extraordinary achievement. The category permits an employer to petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a nonimmigrant to come to the United States on a temporary basis to continue to work within his or her area of extraordinary ability or achievement.

MSU departments must retains outside immigration legal counsel to petition for an O-1 for an individual they wish to employ. General Counsel has selected the attorneys that can petition on behalf of MSU. Please contact OISS for a Non-immigrant Attorney Referral Form to begin the O-1 process.

NOTE: Dr. Teresa Mastin, Vice Provost & Associate Vice President for Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs, is the only university official authorized to sign immigration documents on behalf of MSU.

E-3 Employees

The E-3 classification applies only to nationals of Australia. You must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

To qualify for an E-3 visa, you must demonstrate that you:

  • Are a national of Australia
  • Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States
  • Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials
  • Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation

Departments should contact OISS if they wish to pursue E-3 on behalf of a Australian citizen. OISS will assist department in preparing the prevailing wage and labor condition applications.