Here are some common mistakes you should avoid in your TN Visa or CUSMA Professional Application. As Canadian and American dual-licensed immigration lawyers, we often get hired to fix applications that have been rejected or denied.
Both TN Visas and CUSMA professional Visas come from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA/ CUSMA). When applicants are applying to the United States, it is referred to as a "TN Visa". When applicants are applying to Canada, it is referred to as a "CUSMA Professional Visa".
5 Mistakes to Avoid in your TN Visa/ CUSMA Professional Application:
Assume the worst case scenario.
We often get hired by people that showed up at the border with what they believed to be a slam-dunk, easy case. They were shocked to discover that the officer did not agree with them. It is common for applications to have some level of complexity. And, even if you do have an “easy” case, it is better to be over prepared during the first application than to overcome a denial. Things that add complexity to these applications:
- When your degree does not match the profession that you are applying for.
- When you do not have experience in the field.
- When your job title does not match the TN Profession/ CUSMA Profession
- When the job duties do not match what is described in the Occupational Outlook handbook or the occupation as described in the National Occupation Classification.
- When the job has not been advertised and/or when you obtained the job by word of mouth or when the job may not appear genuine.
A good cover letter is important.
A cover letter is what our law firm uses to make the legal argument for the TN Visa/ CUSMA professional visa. It is submitted in addition to the employer support letter and describes in detail how you qualify for the work visa. It is an opportunity to explain anything that causes questions and an opportunity to advocate for the duration of the visa as well as any concerns regarding the admissibility of the applicant. When we get hired for previously denied applications, we notice that self-represented applicants rarely have a cover letter and they miss the opportunity to explain any particular issues on their application.
Go to the border during business hours to get more experienced officers.
Most of the time, senior officers work during business hours. Our experience is that applicants experience more denials when they made the application outside of business hours. Some ports of entry do not allow applicants to apply outside of business hours. However, even when they do, applicants have a higher chance of having their application be adjudicated by a less experienced officer, outside of business hours.
Do research on different ports of entry.
Theoretically speaking, all ports of entry should be the same, since all officers are applying the same laws, regulations, and policy. Unfortunately, this is not the case and some ports of entry are notorious for their high levels of denials on visa applications. As part of professional organizations, we have access to the experience of thousands of immigration lawyers to help applicants decide what port of entry makes the most sense for them.
Have your employer on-call and let them know what to expect.
Some employers are not experienced when it comes to TN Visas/ CUSMA Professional visas, and just expect applicants to take care of it and show up to work with valid work authorization. Sometimes, denials happen because an employer was not able to be reached and the officer had questions about the genuineness of the job. Other times denials happen because the employer was not aware of the eligibility requirements and misspoke. TN Visa/ CUSMA professional visas allow employees to take care of most of the leg-work, however, they still require employer support. For smaller, less-experienced employers, we often see applicants needing to inform their employers on what to expect. When we are hired, we often take this on by educating the employer on what to expect, what the officers look for, and what the eligibility requirements are so they are not taken by surprise if/ when they are called by a border officer.
How can a lawyer help with my TN Visa/ CUSMA Professional Application?
A lawyer can help you from the job-search stages when you are considering multiple offers, or once you have a job and are ready to apply. A lawyer can also help you after a denial or withdrawal at the border. We are equipped to handle even the most complex TN Visa or CUSMA Professional applications. To get started, please schedule a strategy session here. To learn more about our TN Visa/ CUSMA professional services, see here.
Do you have other free TN Visa/ CUSMA Professional Resources?
Yes, we have a free TN Visa Guide, that goes into detail regarding eligibility and the application process.