TN Visa applications, those supposedly “quick and easy” NAFTA Work Permits that are issued at the border have become very popular over the years. The relatively minimal paperwork involved (compared with other US Work permits) and instantaneous processing, has made the TNs a favorite among Visa applicants and their US employers.
But like most “quick fixes” or “short-cuts” in life, the TN Visa solution is often good to be true. At an alarming rate, we are seeing more and more people with their tail between their legs after being refused their Visas at the border. Applicants are stunned to discover that it’s not so easy after all. USCIS officers are increasingly careful about who they let in and who they deny. Not only does the written job offer from the US employer have to be properly drafted containing the job title, duties, duration of employment, salary etc., but the applicant’s credentials (education and/or work experience) have to match up with their prospective US offer of employment.
But more concerning is that while the rules governing these NAFTA applications are uniform across the board (the rules are the same for everyone), the way in which they are applied ie,, how decisions are made, sadly are not so consistent. In this regard, I often tell our clients that “not all borders are created equal”. The reality is that when you apply for your TN Visa, one border could refuse you whereas another could approve you. This is where the human element is infused in the process.
At our law office, we try to manage the unpredictability of TN Visa border uncertainties by monitoring the success and failure rate at the various ports of entry including at the Toronto airport, Niagara Falls Rainbow bridge, Kingston etc. It is by getting an idea of what type of TN applications will be reviewed most fairly at what border, that often makes all the difference in failure and success. Further, how the applicant presents herself or himself is also important so making sure you are prepared to properly articulate the nature of your job and the temporariness of your stay in the US is key.
So the lesson here is that while the TN Visa paperwork is essential, equally important is to be sensitive about at what border one chooses to apply, which will depend on a number of factors including the job title, applicant’s disposition, and the general reputation of the border itself. In a perfect world, none of this should matter but it certainly does in the real world.
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