Port of Entry or Pre-Flight Inspection (TN NAFTA Status)

Canadian business professionals seeking entry into the United States under TN NAFTA status, often ask whether they should process at a U.S. port of entry or pre-flight inspection at an airport. In most situations, the best choice is to first process for your TN NAFTA status at a U.S. port of entry. It is best to process for TN NAFTA status as far in advance of your start of U.S. employment as possible. Processing the same day your employment starts, at either a port of entry or pre-flight inspection, is risky. If you are denied entry, you risk missing your flight and the start or your employment. Depending on your employer’s urgency this could jeopardize your employment. If you choose to process at a port of entry in advance of your start date, you are able to obtain the necessary evidence to make your application approvable at a later date.

At pre-flight inspection, a denial not only translates into a missed flight and often missed employment; it could also leave you stranded at the airport. Although it is sometimes inconvenient to process at a port of entry, it is often in your best interest. After you obtain TN NAFTA status at a U.S. port of entry, you can then book a departing flight with peace of mind knowing that you have TN NAFTA status in hand before you enter the airport.

As with all immigration matters, it is best to prepare well in advance and seek professional guidance on how to properly approach your situation. The following chart gives a simple comparison of why it is most often advantageous to first process for TN NAFTA status at a port of entry over pre-flight inspection:

Pre-Flight Inspection

U.S. Port of Entry

Must have a boarding pass before being inspected.

Can be inspected by presenting a TN NAFATA application at any time during normal processing times.

Must arrive at the airport several hours before departure to allow ample time for inspection.

Can process any day of the week or any time of day during normal processing times.

If your application is found deficient, you will be turned away to process another day/time, missing your flight and often delaying the start of employment.

If your application is found deficient, you will be turned away to process another day/time.

If approved and your flight has not departed, you can board your flight to your destination.

If approved you can enter the United States on TN NAFTA status. If your U.S. destination requires air travel, you can book your flight with comfort knowing you have TN NAFTA status in hand.