Getting a TN is Easy! You don’t need a Lawyer!

There is a misconception that is easy to obtain a TN visa and that a lawyer is not needed. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Seeking entry into the United States on a TN visa without a properly written TN offer letter will result in a denial and can lead to a bar to entering the United States. The inquiries that we receive on a daily basis cover a wide range of immigration issues but when it comes to the TN visa process, we commonly receive questions about TN visa support letters. Some commonly asked questions that cause concern are:

“I have a friend that told me it is easy to get a TN, I don’t need a lawyer and that I can just go to the border with a letter from my employer. Right?”

“I have an offer letter from my employer that they have used in the past for TN employees, will it work for me?”

“My TN is about to expire. I will be working for the same employer with the same duties. Can I just edit and use my old letter to get my TN renewed?”

“My employer has hired me as an Engineer and has given me an offer letter to take to the border for my TN visa but I don’t have an engineering degree. Will I get my TN visa?”

“I am not sure what category I should enter under on my TN but may employer has hired me as an IT consultant. Is that correct?”

I can’t count how many times we have been asked the above questions in one way or another. Depending on the facts involved the answers often very but the majority of questions surrounding offer letters for TN visa purposes can be addressed together. Although, the TN visa appears to be simple and straight forward, there are many factors that must be considered by both employer and employee before processing at a port of entry for a TN visa. Some common errors that we have encountered in employer or employee prepared TN letters are:

  1. Addressing the TN letter to INS or USCIS – INS was dissolved over ten years ago and USCIS does not review new TN applications. TN applications are reviewed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which falls under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  2. Job Duties Not Analogous to the TN Profession­ – There is a misconception out there that if the title on the TN letter matches a profession listed on the NAFTA professions list the duties are not important. This couldn’t be more incorrect. CBP officers will look at both the title and the duties to make sure that they are in line with the TN profession being sought. Incorrect duties and titles could raise a red flag to the officer which could eventually lead to a denial. It is imperative that the title and duties are consistent with the TN profession being sought.
  3. The Degree earned does not fit the TN Profession listed – The requirements for entry on a TN visa are very cookie cutter. In other words, if you can’t fit into the box for the desired TN profession, you may not qualify for a TN visa. For example, if you have been offered a position as a Computer Systems Analyst and you have a degree in Business Administration, you probably do not qualify for a TN visa as a computer systems analyst. There is some flexibility with certain professions and degrees but in those instances it is crucial that the letter be prepared with specificity.
  4. Detailed Job Duties not Included in the Employer Letter­ – An employer offer letter that does not include a detailed list of duties is not sufficient for TN purposes. The CBP officer needs to be able to determine whether or not the duties to be performed are acceptable for the requested TN profession. If the letter lacks a detailed list of duties the officer will not grant the TN visa.
  5. Failure to Include Details­ – A properly written TN support letter must include the details of the position. Such details include start date, end date, rate of pay, whether the position is full-time or part-time, etc.

The TN visa process appears to be much more simple than it really is. Failure to include necessary details and the proper supporting evidence can lead to a denial of your TN visa application and long term bars on admission. If you have questions about working in the United States on a TN visa, or seek to employ someone on a TN visa, we can help!

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