10 TN Visa Border Application Tips

Ten tips individuals should consider before applying for TN visa status at a U.S. port-of-entry.

1. Ensure Employer Support Letter Satisfies NAFTA Requirements

  • Make sure the employer’s support letter meets the minimal requirements under NAFTA: (a) lists TN category applying under; (b) provides description of employer; (c) describes eligibility for the TN category; (d) provides compensation for proposed engagement; (e) provides a description of job duties; (f) lists length or period of proposed engagement.

2. Determine Any Special POE Instructions

  • Some port-of-entries (POEs) may have special instructions or procedures for NAFTA TN applicants. Individuals should consider contacting the border port-of-entry to determine any special instructions. Contact information for the various POEs is available at the CBP website.

3. Have Employer Available For Phone Call

  • Applicants should notify their employer that CBP may contact them to confirm the employment offer or to discuss the conditions of the employment.
  • We recommend that a designated employee with the company who is familiar with the TN visa application be available when the application is submitted at the border.

4. Have Original Documents

  • Applicants should have their original degree(s) and original transcripts especially if the degree does not specifically list a major or if relying on specific coursework for eligibility.
  • Employer support letters should be printed on the employer’s letter head with the original signature of an employee authorized to act on the behalf of the company.
  • If a spouse and/or children are filing for TD status, original marriage certificates and birth certificates for the children should be presented.

5. Have Updated, Valid Passports

  • TN and TD applicants should make sure that they have passports valid for the full period of TN stay requested. Although not required for mail-in petitions (e.g. for changes or extensions of status), passports are now generally required for port-of-entry applications.
  • As consequence, TN visa applicants are now being held to the general immigration passport rules, which require for admission to the U.S. that an individual have a passport valid for the entire period of his or her proposed stay.
  • Otherwise, the inspector may limit the TN/TD to the expiration date of the passport.

6. Know Basic TN Requirements

  • Like all applications for U.S. immigration benefits, the burden is on the applicant to prove that he or she qualifies for TN visa status. Applicants should be able to articulate how they meet the requirements for the TN visa classification.
  • At minimum, applicants should be able to address how they meet the basic requirements for their TN category (e.g. possession of a related degree) and that they meet the temporary entry requirements (e.g. no intent to reside permanently in the U.S.).

7. Make Only True and Accurate Statements

  • If a CBP inspector suspects or believes that a foreign citizen, including Canadian or Mexican TN visa applicants, has made a false statement in order to gain admission to the U.S., the inspector can easily charge the individual with fraud or misrepresentation.
  • Such a charge results not only in a denial of the TN application, but also in a lifetime bar to the U.S. There is little to no judicial oversight to these charges, (although waivers can be sought in certain situations).
  • Applicants should not only avoid making false statements, but should also quickly correct the inspector if he or she has misunderstood any statements made during the application.

8. Know the Contents of the Employer Support Letter

  • Applicants should be familiar with the contents of the employer’s support letter and the employer support letter should accurately reflect the position offered.
  • Inspectors frequently will take away the employer support letter and ask an applicant to write out his or her job duties on a piece of paper.
  • Problems arise if there are significant disparities between the duties described in the support letter and the applicant’s hand written description.

9. Ensure Online Information Does Not Contradict TN Application

  • Inspectors frequently will search the internet for the information on the company and/or the applicant. Applicants should make sure that information available online does not contradict with the TN application and should be prepared to explain any discrepancies.
  • For example, CBP accused one applicant of unauthorized employment because he had already updated an online profile in his “LinkedIn” account indicating that he now worked for the company he was seeking a TN for.

10. Be Ready to Address Prior Issues

  • Individuals should be prepared to explain any prior immigration issues, violations, criminal matters, some of which may render a person inadmissible to the U.S.
  • Individuals with such issues should consider consulting with an immigration attorney before applying for a TN.