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TN Visa Law Blog

By Brian D. Zuccaro, Esq.

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Doctor Faces Criminal Charges for TN Visa Fraud

Unlike under the H-1B visa, Physicians working in the U.S. under TN visa status may only fill teaching or research positions. They cannot provide direct patient care.

Florida doctor is being charged criminally with visa fraud for allegedly utilizing the TN visa Physician category to operate his own medical practice for more than a decade. Apparently this doctor, a Canadian citizen, had applied for a TN under the Physician category claiming he was working in a research position only, and continued to renew his TNs making the same claim. Immigration officials began to investigate the doctor in 2012, and he is now facing criminal charges in a federal court in Florida

It is unusual for a TN visa worker to be charged criminally with visa fraud. In most cases, a TN visa worker's alleged fraudulent act, or visa violation comes to light during inspection by USCBP at a U.S. port-of-entry. If a CBP officer believes some type of violation occurs, the officer will usually deny the individual entry and revoke his/her TN visa status. In more egregious cases, an individual may beexpedited removed (resulting in a 5-year ban to the U.S.), or charged with fraud (a lifetime ban). While still very severe, these are both civil penalties issued directly at the port-of-entry, and are not considered criminal proceedings.



VSC & CBP to Collaborate on TN Visa Adjudication

In July of this year, staff from the Vermont Service Center (VSC) met with officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (VSC) for a TN collaboration session to share information about their TN adjudication operations. (The VSC is responsible for adjudicating I-129 TN visa petitions, and CBP adjudicates TN applications filed by Canadians at the border.)

According to the VSC’s newsletter, this sharing of information enabled participants to gain “a different and better perspective of various issues related to TN eligibility and border entry processes.” The VSC stated that the “topics discussed and relationships established will lead to more consistent application of TN standards by DHS at the time of adjudication and/or entry by the beneficiary into the United States. See VSC Stakeholders Newsletter (Summer 2014), AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14092646 (posted 9/26/14).

Our office had previously heard informally from some CBP officers that CBP was now contacting the VSC to discuss issues it had with particular TN applications filed at the U.S. port-of-entry. This formal announcement from VSC suggests that CBP will be reaching out to the VSC for guidance on TN applications more often in the future.



CBP Announces “Optimized” TN Visa Processing Port-of-Entries

CBP has announced that beginning in mid-September, the agency will provide “optimized processing” for first-time Canadian TN and L visa status applicants. CBP is not requiring first-time applicants to apply at these locations, but is instead “encouraging” such applicants to file at these offices.

CBP will provide this optimized processing at the following locations:

  • Pearson International Airport
  • Trudeau International Airport
  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Calgary International Airport
  • Highgate Springs Port of Entry
  • Derby Line Port of Entry
  • Alexandria Bay Port of Entry
  • Peace Bridge Port of Entry
  • Rainbow Bridge Port of Entry
  • Champlain Port of Entry
  • Detroit Canada Tunnel Port of Entry
  • Detroit Ambassador Bridge Port of Entry
  • Blaine Peace Arch Port of Entry
  • Sweetgrass Port of Entry

CBP has not stated what “optimized processing” actually entails, e.g. whether it will assign more senior officers at these locations for TN and L-1 visa application adjudications. We will continue to monitor this development, and provide more details as they become available.