Applying for TN status in person in front of a CBP Officer can be a stressful process. It is my experience that the application process is much smoother and less stressful when the proper documents are presented in support of the application. CBP Officers know when they have a qualified well prepared TN applicant and when they don’t. A confident TN applicant with a well prepared TN application can get through the inspection process quickly and smoothly. For the application process to go as smooth and quick as possible, it is important to closely follow the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and CBP guidance on TN applications. This article provides a simple overview of the requirements for a complete TN application for submission at a port of entry or pre-flight inspection point. At a minimum you should expect to provide the following:
- PROOF OF CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP – Only Canadian citizens can qualify for TN-1 status. Canadian permanent residents DO NOT qualify for TN-1 status. Canadian citizenship in conjunction with a TN-1 application is most often proven in the form of a valid Canadian passport. The passport should be valid for the duration of the job offer in the United States. CBP will not issue TN-1 status beyond the expiration date of the passport or other qualifying identity document.
- VALID OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT – You must have a valid offer of employment or be actively employed to qualify for TN-1 status. An individual cannot self-petition for TN-1 status and self-employed is not allowed under TN-1 status. Poorly written offers of employment are one of the top reasons for denials of TN-1 applications. The employment offer must be written and signed on original employer letterhead that includes employer contact information. The letter presented must be in the form of an original signed letter from the U.S. employer. If the employer is Canadian, the letter must be accompanied by proof of a contract with a U.S. based client. The offer must be for a qualifying TN profession listed under NAFTA professions list, must include a detailed list of duties to be performed consistent with the designated NAFTA profession, should include a start date, and must indicate how long the temporary employment will last. Offers for permanent employment under TN status are not authorized under NAFTA and will be denied. TN status can be issued for temporary period up to three (3) years.
- PROOF OF EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE – When presenting an application for TN-1 status in person, the applicant must carry with them original proof of their academic qualifications for the NAFTA profession. This includes original degrees, transcripts, certificates, and any other qualifying documents. All documents must be in the English language or be accompanied by an English language translation. In addition, if the degrees were earned in a foreign Country, they must be accompanied by an acceptable degree evaluation showing their U.S. equivalency. It is very important to understand that except for the professions of Management Consultant and Scientific Technician/Technologist, experience cannot be substituted for education. If you qualify based on experience, or, a combination of education and experience, you must show proof of your experience through former employer letters. Failure to provide proof of your education and or experience will result in the rejection or denial of your TN-1 application.
The success of a TN visa application is highly contingent on the thoroughness of the materials presented. With proper attention to detail submitting a TN visa application through a port of entry or preflight inspection point can be a very smooth process. On the other hand, improperly prepared and inadequately supported TN visa applications can lead to unpleasant inspections, rejections, and even denials. For more detailed advice and specific legal guidance, it is best to consult with an immigration attorney that focuses their practice on TN visa applications. My office is located within minutes of the U.S. Canadian border and I have extensive experience assisting TN visa applicants and their employers navigate the TN application process. Contact me today to discuss your qualifications for TN visa status and to prepare for your TN visa application.
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