On October 1, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for TN status filed on Form I-129 on behalf of qualified Canadian Citizens from outside the United States.
Traditionally, Canadians outside the United States seeking TN status were required to submit applications for TN status at a U.S. port of entry. This new direct filing option provides Canadian professionals and their employers’ two options for obtaining valid TN status: Direct filing at a service center or the traditional application submitted in person at a U.S. port of entry. When considering submitting a TN application by mail or at a port of entry, here are some points to consider:
- CBP Interview – One of the intimidating factors associated with submitting a TN application in person is facing the grueling and intense questions of the inspecting officer. For seasoned border crossers and those quick on their feet, such inspections are not an issue. Others that are easily intimidated, uncomfortable with the English language, or that want the assurance of an approved visa prior to entry, this is a great option. The ability to file by mail offers the applicant the option of facing a CBP Officer for the traditional TN application process, or, avoiding the interview by filing by mail.
- Processing Fees – A disadvantage to submitting an application for TN status through Form I-129 is the $325 filing fee. When processing at the border the total fee is $56. This fee covers the inspection fee and Form I-94. Processing by mail will cost the applicant $269 more than when submitting the application in person at a port of entry.
- Processing Times – One of the main advantages of TN status is the ability to apply in person at any port of entry to receive an immediate answer. This allows Canadian professionals the ability to obtain TN status on very short notice. Processing by mail is a much slower process. The average processing time for a TN submitted on Form I-129 is 2 months. With U.S.C.I.S. now accepting applications from Canadians currently outside the Country, these wait times can only be expected to increase. If time is of the essence, processing at a port of entry remains the quickest option.
- Premium Processing – Those that wish to avoid the stress of a port of entry TN application but still want a quick decision, have the option of premium processing. Premium processing guarantees a decision within 15 days of receipt of the application for an additional fee of $1,225 USD. Although not as fast as a port of entry application, this does avoid the border interview and provides the assurance of a pre-approved TN visa in a timely manner.
The new option of applying for TN status through a U.S.C.I.S. service center opens up doors for many Canadian TN professionals and their employers that have traditionally faced difficulties at the border. For some, this new filing option can be a great advantage, for others, traditional port of entry applications remain the best option. As with all TN applications, it is best to seek the advice of a U.S. Immigration Lawyer before proceeding. If you are in the process of applying for a TN visa, contact us directly so that we can advise you about the advantages and disadvantages of each application process.
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