Common TN Visa Mistakes to Avoid

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brainygirlNew Member
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Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:21 pm

Post Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:38 pm

I am a Canadian physician working and living in the US on a TN visa. Initially, I was here as a post-doctoral fellow and had an H-1B. Of course, once I graduated and wanted a job, I was no longer counted against the cap, and the H-1Bs had run out.
TN visa to the rescue!
The first time I processed it I hired an immigration lawyer who "specialized" in TN visas and Canada-US immigration issues.
Well, let me tell you, she basically did nothing but charge exorbitant fees and freak me out. The letter my employer and I prepared was grossly inadequate, was missing job title, salary requirements, length of term, EVERYTHING! However, at the border the guards at Trudeau airport could not have been nicer and I went through without a hitch.
So, when my visa was up this year and I was traveling through Toronto anyway, I assumed there would be no problem, especially since I had a previous TN and the same job.
HA! That could not have been further from the truth. I consulted numerous websites as well as this lawyer prior to leaving and was told all I needed to "renew" the TN was the supporting letter, my passport with the previous visa, and 50$.
Needless to say, I was tortured and interrogated for hours in the Toronto airport. I did not have original documents and was told I needed to go back to the US and cross the border the next day (a 7-hr drive each way) or stay in Canada until the documents arrived.
Just as I was about to give up hope, the shift changed and new workers came on - the new supervisor said he would accept my copies, no problem.
However, the woman who ended up processing my visa was insane and really had it in for me. She gave me the third degree about how my application was woefully inadequate, how if it were up to her there was NO WAY I would be approved, and she begrudgingly granted me my TN, but ONLY for 9 months instead of the usual 12. Then, to top it off, she gave me an I-94 form to fill out IN SPANISH! When I asked for an English form, she claimed they "didn't have any." Then she smirked and said "And besides, don't you speak Spanish.?" referring to my letter of employment which does include some work in Spanish. I complied, but this was abuse, clear and simple.
I was made to feel like a criminal for being a physician in the US doing federally-funded public health research - definitely the sort of person who should be kept out of the country!

To wrap up, another thing to keep in mind is that you cannot obtain a TN visa in advance; you must process it AS you are reporting to work. And, as rightly stated by others, there is NO such thing as a renewal! Each application is like starting over from zero. And it is a crapshoot, and they have your life in their hands.
I'm done with this process and want to remain in the US.
Do I move to an H-1B or go straight to a green card? There is a lot of conflicting info out there and I certainly do NOT want to be deported!

I just wish I had read this website BEFORE my Spanish inquisition at US Immigration at Toronto airport this week.

(p.s. do NOT go through major border crossings - the guards are likely to be harried and on a power trip; at the smaller crossings, your chances are better.and definitely do NOT go through Toronto Pearson!)
kevinlgCanuckAbroad Regular
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:26 pm

Post Thu Sep 04, 2008 4:15 pm


I totally understand your frustration. US immigration policy is just shitty. They guard it strictly. Why? Because they have too many enemies out there.
Back to the point.

I guess everyone should learn from your experience that is to be prepared when approaching the guard. They are trained to 'turn you around' instead of letting people in.

I had been through Toronto Pearson twice for TN.
The wait time is long. 2~ 3 hrs min. The first time was 4 hrs.
However, I am well prepared with job letter, ORIGINAL proof of degree, and my credit card. It took literally 10 mins for the guard to approve it. So have no clue why I have to wait 3 hrs. There are only 10 people waiting inside the secondary inspection room. And yet not all of them are for TN, which means the NAFTA officer is not processing all 10 but maybe half.

In conclusion, not only does those guard treat people like prisoner, but they are super inefficient.
MarzoNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2008 3:31 am

Post Sat Sep 13, 2008 3:39 am

Hi! This is my first visit to the forum. I have a question for all of you, since I'm considering applying for a TN visa following a job offer I will most likely get.

The question is: Am I eligible under the "professions" named in NAFTA. My offer would be to be one of the main managers at at press freedom NGO (international but registered in the US); My degrees are BA in Poli Sci (CAnada) and MA in International relations (American University) and my close to 20 years experience has been high level in International media NGOs and International Civil Service (United Nations). I don't see any similar "professions" in the NAFTA list, except perhaps for "teaching/research". Please advice what should be done.

Thank you!
martineze80New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:59 am

Post Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:19 am

I was terminated from my job while I was on TN status. I am not too familiar with all the info I am reading about now, i.e. I had 10 days to return back home after termination. What happens if I am passed this time? Can I still get a job elsewhere?

Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

g-opCanuckAbroad Regular
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:37 pm
Location: montreal

Post Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:48 pm

Tech you cannot hold two non immigrant classifications. cannot be a L-1 and a TN at the same time. Admission under TN classification authorizes you to work for the company that petitioned for you, if you seek additional employment you must first obatin authorization from CBP at the US border or USCIS while inside the US. You can obtain auth for numerous employers under TN but each one must be approved and noted on the I-94, for example a RN is going to be employed by two different hospitals, she must at time of entry show her two offers of employment and be approved for both. If the same RN was approved for hospital-A and then saw an opening for hospital-B she can file an I-129 with the USCIS service center to request additional work authorization. she must wait for approval prior to begining work. the other option would be to obtain employment offer from hospital-B leave the US and apply to CBP for the additional work authorization. Of coarse providing all evidence of qualifications like any other Tn application.
g-opCanuckAbroad Regular
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:37 pm
Location: montreal

Post Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:01 pm


Customs and Border protection Officers have no such position as "NAFTA" Officer, TN applications are one of very many different classifications these officers must process, to claim they are inefficient when you really have no idea what it is they need to do is unfair and frankly your opinion is irrelivant. stating US immigration is a closely gaurded secret is a joke as well, the Law is cleary writen, Information about TN classifications are readily available on the Internet, so in the end if you are one of the professions listed and are going to work TEMPORARILY in the US and are doing the job of that profession than this permit is easy to get, and should be easily explained at your Border interview. Problem arises when Law Firms try to Maniplulate a persons job descriptions to "FIT" a profession listed under NAFTA and the applicant is not really in that profession or doing the duties realated to that profession, and when questioned is easily discovered by the US officer to not be qualified. Truly qualified professionals no problem, not qulaified professionals not allowed to enter. Most of these probably should be applying for H1-B or L-1, but H-1 has yearly cap and L-1 is more expensive. FRAUD must be very common to this work permit as all you need is a degree and a Letter.
g-opCanuckAbroad Regular
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:37 pm
Location: montreal

Post Sat Sep 27, 2008 11:09 am

just stay, 10 days, 6 months, rest of your life. you were supposed to leave as soon as you are fired, or file to adjust status to B2 so it gives you more time to pack up and go home. or just stay, end up acquiring unlawful presence and give yourself a bar from rentry for 3 years, 10 years, depending of coarse. :-({|=
KrisBNew Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:39 pm


Post Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:47 pm

eddycurrents wrote:And another thing -- if your TN visa application is rejected, they won't let you into the country even on a 14 day visitor visa. I have been told this by 2 customs officers who nearly rejected my application. The reason is simple -- they know I will be going to work.

So if your annual TN visa application is rejected at the border, you are stuck in Canada. You can't go to your home or job in the US. What happens then I have no idea and no desire to find out.

Although this is true it should be clarified that you only can't go into the US at the border crossing you applied to on the same day that you applied. You can go to a different border crossing and enter as a visitor, or wait until the next day and enter as a visitor.

I was rejected for a TN once and the officer was nice enough to explain this to me, so I waited a day and entered as a visitor no problem. Came back and renewed a couple weeks later and was approved.
Sir JohnNew Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:06 am

Re: Common TN Visa Mistakes to Avoid

Post Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:34 pm

Over the past five years, my wife and I have received numerous TN visas. We are both on our second employer, living in our second US city.
Each visit to the border is different as each port of entry operates differently. Our recommendations include:

1. Always smile, be polite/friendly and extremely patient.
2. Bring original documents including the actual diploma.
3. Bring both credit card and US cash. Some offices accept cash only.
4. Be aware of your words, tone, volume and emotions.

As said before, each port of entry is different, each officer is different and there is nothing saying that the same officer will handle you the same way, be it the next day, week or year.

We've had the pleasure of crossing at the Ambassador Bridge in Windor/Detroit and recommend asking for female officer Ms.Cope.
She is considered the NAFTA expert had have actually heard other officers refer all TN business to her during her M-F, 8-4 hours and nothing else.(isn't it a 24 hour border crossing and one of the busiest?)

We have used airport offices in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Chicago. Since my last renewal was in Chicago and the worst exeperience yet, I am planning to use a Canadian airport next because I believe that they are familar with Canadians applying for TN. Chicago OHare, didn't know how to process a TN, quoted a non government website to support their knowledge and were rude.

One last thing, good luck and have fun because over time, you'll become the NAFTA expert and oh ya, never, never use the word "renew".

MIRONew Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:53 pm

Re: Common TN Visa Mistakes to Avoid

Post Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:09 pm

TN Visa and Unemployment Insurance in California very recent.

I am currently on my sixth TN Visa contract in USA, and my contract was terminated two days ago, due to Company downsizing.
I spent little bit than six months on this project sa an Engineer.
Prior to that I was in Canada doing very same job for two and half years but operated as my own company. I guess many Engineers are doing just that. Now I would like to apply for Californian UI, and go home. Problrm is in catch 22 type of California regulations which is all puzlled and like maze from nimber of corrupted web sites and answering machines.

Does anybody has any advice or recent experience???????

Thanks in advance


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