Basics of a Canadian application for TN-1 Status

An application for TN-1 status submitted at a U.S. port of entry or designated pre-flight inspection point must be done in accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). This guide provides a basic overview of an application for TN-1 status for Canadians submitted at a port of entry or designated pre-flight inspection point.

Proof of Canadian Citizenship

To qualify for TN-1 status the applicant must be a Canadian citizen and provide proof of citizenship. Proof is generally provided in the form of a Canadian passport, NEXUS card, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (“WHTI”) compliant document. A Canadian passport is preferred and should be valid for the duration of the requested employment period. CBP Officers will not issue TN-1 status for a period beyond the expiration of the passport. Canadian permanent residents DO NOT qualify for TN-1 status.

Employment Offer

A common reason for TN application denials is a poorly written employment offer. 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. 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. TN status can be issued for any time period from one (1) day to three (3) years.  The offer should include the level of compensation which should be consistent with wages for the profession as set by the U.S. Department of Labor. The offer should include sufficient enough information for the officer to identify the employer, its size, location, and type of business. Depending on the size of employer it may also be necessary to include additional supporting documents, i.e., product brochures, incorporation documents, financial statements, photographs of the employment site, etc…

Minimum Education and Experience Requirements

An applicant for TN-1 status must be able to demonstrate that they meet the minimum education and experience requirements as listed for the profession under the NAFTA. It is important to note that except for the professions of Management Consultant and Scientific Technician/Technologist, experience CANNOT be substituted for education. If the education was obtained outside of the United States or Canada, a degree evaluation must be obtained. Original copies of degrees and transcripts must accompany your application. If you qualify based on experience, or, a combination of education and experience, you must show proof of your experience through former employer letters or other acceptable proof of employment. If you are not able to demonstrate that you meet the minimum education and experience requirements, your application for TN-1 status could be rejected or denied.

Position of a Temporary Nature

Applicants for TN-1 status must demonstrate that they do not have the intent to immigrate to the United States and that they will maintain their permanent foreign ties for the duration of their temporary stay in the United States. This requirement is generally done through a statement of nonimmigrant intent. In some instances it is necessary to prove permanent foreign ties before TN-1 status will be granted.

Admissibility to the United States

In addition to demonstrating the above, TN-1 applicants must be otherwise be admissible to the United States. Admissibility issues often arise if the applicant has ever been arrested, convicted of a crime, or previously violated U.S. immigration laws. Applicants that are otherwise inadmissible to the United States due to circumstances in their past, may be able to obtain a nonimmigrant waiver allowing them to work in the United States.

Where to Apply?

Qualified applicants for TN-1 status are able to apply for admission into the United States at any designated port of entry or preflight inspection point. It is important to have all necessary supporting documents before applying.  Incomplete TN-1 applications with be rejected. If you have booked air travel or traveled a long distance to the border, this could result in missed flights, wasted hours of travel, and delays in the start of employment.

Proof of TN-1 Status

Once your application for TN-1 status has been approved, the inspecting officer will complete and staple CBP Form I-94 into your passport. You must keep Form I-94 as proof of your TN-1 status. Form I-94 will indicate the employer you are authorized to work for and the time frame for which you have been approved to work in the United States.  A TN is employer specific and cannot be used to work for another employer. If you change or add employers, a new TN will need to be obtained.

Conclusion

If prepared with the proper attention to detail, submitting a TN 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 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-1 applications for Canadians. 

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