Did You Know Canadian Citizens Can Apply for Certain Work Visas Directly at a Port of Entry? Darius Amiri, immigration department chair at Rose Law Group, explains the process

By Darius Amiri, Chair of Immigration Department at Rose Law Group

As an immigration attorney who consults with dozens of Canadian citizens interested in work visas or residency in the US every month, it often strikes me how few know about certain advantages in the US visa application process reserved exclusively for Canadian citizens. In this article I will discuss the often unknown ease with which a Canadian citizen with an offer for employment inside the US can actually obtain two specific work related visas, the TN (NAFTA/USMCA visa) and the L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa. Applying for an L1 or TN visa at a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry as a Canadian citizen involves several steps. Here’s a brief overview of the process:

First, you must secure a job offer from a U.S. employer that qualifies for an L1 or TN visa. The L1 visa requires that the candidate for employment work in either a managerial position or have specialized knowledge, and have been employed by a foreign affiliate of the US based company for 1 continuous year of the past 3 years preceding the date of the application. The TN Visa is reserved for professionals under the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement), formerly NAFTA, which includes a list of specific professions, and typically requires a four year bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

For a person applying for an L1 visa at a CBP port of entry, they would require :

     – Evidence of employment with the company for at least one year within the past three years.

     – Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. company and the foreign company.

     – Letter from the U.S. employer detailing the job position and duties.

For a person applying for a TN visa at a CBP port of entry, they would require:

     – A job offer letter from the U.S. employer detailing the professional capacity in which you will work.

     – Proof of Canadian citizenship such as a valid passport.

     – Documentation supporting your qualifications (e.g., degrees, licenses, professional credentials).

The real benefit of application for these visa types at designated CBP ports of entry- which can include border crossings, airports, and pre-clearance locations in Canada, is that the candidate/employer can theoretically obtain the visa in a much more expedited, efficient, and cost effective manner by avoiding the lengthy and costly application process involved in filing for the same type of visa/status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which can takes months or longer in some cases and cost thousands of dollars in application and legal fees.

If applying at a CBP port of entry, the visa candidate must appear, inform the officer of the type of visa being requested, present the required documentation to the officer, be prepared to answer questions about the employer, the job offer, their resume and work experience, and any of the supporting evidence being presented.  The CBP officer will review your qualifications to ensure they align with the specific visa category being requested, and the candidate may be asked questions about their professional experience and educational background.

At the conclusion of the interview, the CBP officer will review the candidate’s documentation and assess eligibility for the L1 or TN visa. If the officer is satisfied with the application and qualifications, they will issue the visa. And once approved, the applicant will be allowed to enter the U.S. under the appropriate visa category, and begin working for the U.S. employer as per the terms of the visa.

While the visa application process at a CBP port of entry can save expenses, time, and avoid procedural hurdles, it is always recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney prior to applying.

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June 2024