TN Visa Interview
In addition to documentation requirements, the TN visa application process also requires an interview by a U.S. immigration officer.
Citizens of Canada are interviewed when filing for a TN at the U.S. port-of-entry. They can also be subject to questioning when seeking entry to the U.S. under an approved I-129 petition. Citizens of Mexico are subject to a double-check system, and are interviewed first at the U.S. Embassy / Consulate during the TN visa application process, and then may face additional questioning at the U.S. port-of-entry during the inspection process.
Interviews for a TN visa generally encompass two aspects. An immigration officer will conduct the typical inspection process, which may include questions about prior visits to the United States, visas held, immigration violations, or arrests. The officer will then ask questions about the merits of the TN visa application.
Travel History & Background
Applicants should expect the officer to question them about their U.S. immigration history and background, e.g. prior U.S. visits or visas held, previous U.S. employment, immigration violations or denials of admissions/ visas, or criminal issues (if any).
Here officers are assessing whether the applicant is inadmissible to the U.S. based on a prior immigration violation or criminal issue. Immigration officials will have records of an applicant’s travels to the U.S., and may question the applicant on the activities undertaken during these visits to ensure they did not run afoul of the limitations placed on the previously held non-immigrant visa classification. For example, a USCBP officer may deny a Canadian citizen’s application for TN visa status if the officer discovers that the applicant had violated a prior entry to the U.S. as a visitor by working without authorization.
Merits of TN Application
Once satisfied that the applicant is not inadmissible to the U.S., the officer will then question the applicant on the merits of the TN application. Typical questions include:
- Who is the employer?
- What are the daily job duties?
- How is the applicant qualified?
- Where will the work take place?
- What are the terms of compensation?
- How long is the assignment
The purpose of these questions if for the officer to determine whether the applicant meets the main requirements for TN visa status. The main focus of the TN visa interview is often the applicant's job duties as these cannot be as readily confirmed for TN visa eligibility as the applicant's credentials.
Immigration officers may contact the applicant's employer to confirm the job offer and the nature of the position offered. An applicant should ensure that a knowledgeable employer representative is available to speak to an immigration officer during the time he/she is submitting the TN visa application (particularly when seeking admission at the U.S. port-of-entry). There should be no inconsistencies regarding the job title and job description. The employer representative, the applicant, and the contents of the company’s support letter all should refer to the same job title and description.
Depending on the nature of the applicant's case and how busy the port-of-entry or Embassy/Consulate is, a TN visa interview process can last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. In most cases, more time is spent waiting before and after the interview than spent speaking to an immigration officer.
Applicants are advised to stay calm and answer all of the questions honestly. The penalty for fraud (life-time bar to the U.S.) far exceeds the repercussions of a denied TN, which may be overcome at a later date.
- CBP Inspection Program
- CBP Policy - Border Search of Information
- CBP Policy - Examining Documents 02-2002
- CBP Policy - Border Search of Electronic Devices 08-20-2009
- CRS Report - Border Search of Laptops 03-25-2008