The creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 between Canada, Mexico, and the United States included a mechanism to allow citizens of the three countries to work in the other participating countries. This was referred to as TN Professional status. While NAFTA is in the process of being renegotiated and renamed as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), the new agreement is expected to retain this mechanism once it is ratified in Canada later this year.
The TN Professional status was created to allow professionals in each of the three countries to work in the other countries on a temporary basis, with what is referred to as “non-immigrant intent”. However, this status is only offered to individuals in certain professions and requires a pre-existing offer for employment in order to be approved. It is important to note that approval for TN Professional status for Canadians is generally requested at the border at the time of entry to the U.S.
This means that if your application is insufficient, you may be turned away and will not be permitted to cross as planned. If you are in the process of crossing the border in order to start a new job, this can create a major inconvenience, and possibly put your new role in jeopardy. At Garson Immigration Law, we regularly assist clients applying for entry to the U.S. with the TN NAFTA/USMCA status, and will help you to ensure that your application is in order before you arrive at the border so that you can be confident that you’ll be approved.
TN Professional status does not require a Canadian national to obtain a visa. Instead, the person will apply, generally at the time of border crossing, for approval. If granted, the TN Professional will then be permitted to work in the U.S. for a period of three years before they must re-apply.
The status is reserved for those working in specific enumerated professions, divided into four categories: General, Medical, Scientific or Teaching. While the list is extensive, some of the approved professions are as follows:
It is also important to note that each approved profession comes with certain educational requirements. For example, to be approved to enter the U.S. to work as a dentist, the applicant must also have a D.D.S., D.M.D. and/or a provincial license to practice in Canada.
There are two ways Canadian citizens can apply for TN Professional entry to the U.S.: at the port of entry, or in advance, via an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While the advance application can provide peace of mind in knowing that you’ve already received approval prior to arriving at the border, there are also disadvantages. For example, applying in advance requires completion of a 36-page application form and a fee of nearly $500 USD. The approval process also takes considerably longer.
Applying at the point of entry requires that you present detailed documentation to the border patrol officers. In the case of an application at the port of entry, the CBP officer will normally make an immediate decision. Of course, if denied, this can be a major inconvenience to the applicant.
Establishing that you do not have the intention to remain in the U.S. long-term is easier to demonstrate when you first apply, or the first time you apply for a renewal. However, the longer you stay in the U.S. under the TN Professional designation, the more difficult this will become. This can be a disadvantage for those who end up wanting to remain in the U.S. for a longer period of time.
At Garson Immigration Law in Toronto, we have helped numerous clients with their applications for TN Professional entry to the U.S. Our proximity to the border has enabled us to assist with a significant number of port-of-entry applications. We understand what U.S. Border Patrol is looking for in an application and know the reasons that these applications may be denied. As a result, we can help to ensure that you are positioned for approval from the start so that you won’t have to suffer a delay with respect to your move or beginning your new employment.
At Garson Immigration Law, we are exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We have extensive experience guiding clients through the process of applying for TN Professional entry status to the U.S. We will work with both you and your new employer to facilitate a successful TN application so that you can begin your new job without unnecessary delay. To discuss your circumstances with one of our experienced immigration lawyers, please contact us online or call us at 416-321-2860.