A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Documents needed for TN Visa

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently released a checklist of documents used by their officers to evaluate NAFTA (TN) applications.  The TN visa category was established by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to allow Canadian and Mexican citizens who are coming to the U.S. to work in professional positions. However, unlike the H-1B visa program, the listing of TN visa positions are pre-defined.

Generally speaking, Mexican citizens must first apply for a visa before they are allowed to enter the U.S. Canadian citizens may directly request for admission as a TN professional at a Class A port of entry (POE), a U.S. international airport, or a designated pr-eclearance station.  The CBP officers are responsible for checking a TN applicant's documents and his or her eligibility for TN admission. Therefore, they have the authority to approve or deny a TN application at the port of entry.  Hence, it is extremely important that a TN applicant present proper and sufficient documents to prove his or her eligibility.

To ensure that the officers at different ports of entry adjudicate TN applications consistently, CBP has released a checklist of basic documents used by the agency's officers.  The basic documents include: 1) Proof of Canadian citizenship; 2) Offer of Employment Letter specifying the job title, detailed job description, salary and compensation, duration of employment; 3) Applicant's qualification documents including educational diplomas and transcripts, proof of employment experience and other qualifications; 4) Additional Mandatory Evidence such as Visa Screen for healthcare workers, state license, and waivers of inadmissibility; 5) Dependents' marriage license, birth certificate, adoption documents and TD visa for non-Canadian dependents; and 6) Other relevant documents.

The purpose of the checklist is to facilitate determination by CBP officers that applicants have all the required documentary evidence required for the TN status. A CBP officer can either deny the request for admission or request for additional evidence if here are deficiencies with the documents.  The applicant may re-apply again with additional documents later on. The checklist will be kept in file and the next officer will use it as a reference.

Some applicants, after their TN admission was denied, try to re-apply at a different port of entry, thinking some other officers or ports of entry are "easier" than the others.  Such thinking is not correct for two reasons. First, the CBP system will have records of the applicant's prior entry records which can be accessed by all CBP officers.  So going to a different port of entry should not make a difference.  Secondly, such actions of shopping for different entry points could be viewed negatively by the CBP officers, hence making it even more difficult to obtain TN status.   By being as open as possible, e.g., by going to the same port of entry regularly, and by visiting during regular office hours, a Canadian's chances of getting TN status would actually be better.

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