Electronic Device Searches During TN Visa Applications

Question: Can U.S. border officers search my cell phone or laptop when I apply for TN visa status at the border?

Reply: Generally, under an exception to the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches, USCBP border officers have broad authority to conduct "routine" searches at the border without a warrant. 

The U.S. government asserts that under this exception it has the right to search without a warrant any individual at the border including those applying for TN visa status, or seeking re-entry under a valid TN. The goverment also claims that this includes searching an individual's cell phone or laptop. Refusing to submit to a search, or refusing to provide a password to unlock an electronic device, could result in a TN visa applicant or TN visa holder's denial of entry to the U.S. 

Additional information on USCBP's border search authority, and steps an individual can take to mitigate risk is provided by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

TN Visas Should Not Be Affected by Trump Travel Ban

On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the entry into the U.S. of individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. The Order did not make clear whether this prohibition applied to individuals with dual-citizenship. As such, Canadian and Mexican citizens who also had citizenship in one of the affected countries were unsure whether they would be able to obtain TN visa status, or re-enter the U.S. under previously issued TNs.

According to a recent FAQ published by USCBP, individuals holding such dual-citizenship would still be allowed entry to the U.S. provided they presented a travel document from an unaffected country. Thus, citizens of Mexico and Canada who are also citizens of one of the restricted countries should still be able to obtain TNs or re-enter the U.S. under pre-existing TNs by presenting their Mexican/Canadian passport. 

TN Visa Approval for Project Manager

TN VisaCase Info.
Background:The applicant, a citizen of Canada, was seeking to renew his TN for a position as a Project Manager. We reviewed the position offered and the applicant’s credentials, and although not exact matches on either account, we verified that the individual could still qualify under the Computer Systems Analyst TN visa category.
TN Category:Computer Systems Analyst
Job title / duties:The duties of this Project Manager position involved the analysis, design, optimization, and implementation of interactive hospital patient systems. It did not have any direct reports.

Any time there is not an exact match between an applicant's job title and the TN category, there can be added scrutiny. This is even more so when the position has an executive or managerial title. The key to this case was explaining that the position still involved primarily Computer Systems Analyst tasks as opposed to managerial or administrative ones. We supplemented the application with evidence that Computer Systems Analysts commonly performed project management tasks.

Education:The applicant possessed a General Science bachelor's degree, a diploma in IT, and about 13 years of experience in the field. To establish eligibility, we highlighted the applicant's computer coursework during his bachelor's degree program, and also presented a letter from his school affirming that his diploma was comparable to a 2-year program. We included proof of his experience. We supplemented the application with research establishing that a degree in Computer Science was not required for a Computer Systems Analyst position, and that individuals with degrees in Science who have training and experience in the field could also qualify.

Filing Process:TN visa status application @ USCBP - Buffalo, NY POE
Processing time: Approved same day filed
Approval period: 3 years