Articles Posted in TN Visas

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U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) recently released a NAFTA Reference Guide that is filled with useful information to assist TN visa applicants filing applications under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Specifically, the guide addresses the process for issuing TN visa approval for multiple employers.

To facilitate approval for multiple employers, CBP has advised that Canadian citizens;

 

  • Provide a letter of support signed by each employer on company letterhead;
  • For applicants who filed their applications at a land border: CBP will include all the approved TN employers on a single I-94 card. If additional I-94 cards are required, CBP will use the same I-94 number for each card;
  • Upon visa issuance, the TN applicant’s electronic I-94 system will be updated by CBP to reflect TN approval for all the employers;
  • For applicants who file their applications at a CBP airport office (where no paper-based I-94 form is issued): CBP will update its electronic I-94 system to reflect TN approval for all the employers.
  • Applicants who file applications for multiple employers at the same time only need to pay one filing fee—however, additional fees may be required for multiple I-94 records;
  • If an additional employer is added by the TN worker at a later date, then a second filing fee will apply.

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On Thursday, December 31, 2015 the Department of Homeland Security published a new proposed rule affecting highly skilled immigrant and non-immigrant workers alike. The proposed rule, introduced in last week’s federal register, aims to improve the ability of American employers to hire and retain highly skilled workers waiting to receive their employment-based lawful permanent residence in the visa bulletin backlogs. Additionally, the proposed rule aims to enhance opportunities for such workers allowing them to be more easily promoted, to accept lateral positions with their current employers, change employers, and pursue other employment. While the proposed rule is not groundbreaking, it does address important challenges employers and their highly skilled workers have faced as the law stands today and makes recommendations for such relief. The proposed rule will be open for comment until February 29, 2016.

You may remember that on November 20, 2014 the President highlighted, as part of his executive actions on immigration, that the employment-based immigration system needed to be amended to modernize, improve, and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs in order to create more jobs, foster innovation at home, retain a highly skilled workforce that would allow the United States to compete with other countries, and to stimulate the American economy overall.  In order to modernize the employment based immigration system, USCIS would be required to work with the Department of State to modernize and simplify the immigrant visa allocation process. Part of this process would require the Department of State to make reasoned projections of employment-based immigrant visa availability on the visa bulletin, that could be relied upon by employers and their highly skilled workers.

Presently, immigrant workers from India and China are experiencing extraordinary delays in the employment-based queue for permanent residence, while other highly skilled workers are forced to wait over a five-year period to receive company sponsorship and lawful permanent residence. Furthermore, such workers are forced to remain on temporary employment-sponsored visas in the United States while waiting for an immigrant visa to become available to them. This puts the immigrant worker in a predicament giving the employer the upper hand, while restricting the employee from seeking advancement and discouraging new employment, since this would require the employer to file a new petition and incur the expensive fees required for filing. Highly skilled works facing extortionate delays in the visa backlogs have experienced hindered employer/employee career advancement and job mobility. The new rules will provide limited relief in this area.

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The 27th AILA (American Immigration Lawyer Association) California Chapter Conference was held between the 13th and 15th of November 2014 at San Jose, California. Attorney Yingei Zhou, Esq. was in attendance on behalf of our law firm. The conference concentrated on several trending topics such as status of comprehensive immigration reform, consular processing and updates with border posts in Mexico and Canada, driver’s licenses for undocumented workers, unaccompanied alien children (UAC), H-1B/L-1A/O-1/EB-1 adjudications, federal litigation, and advanced family immigration issues, as well as staple subjects like evidentiary issues in removal proceedings and PERM applications.

This article provides you several important updates from the conference addressed at the conference, especially the government open forums with AILA practitioners, USCIS representatives, CBP officers, and San Francisco Asylum officers.

In the following weeks, we will post more articles to address the trends on each specific visa applications and immigration proceedings discussed in the conference.

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By Yingfei Zhou, Esq.

The TN is a wonderful category to achieve quick entry for Canadians and Mexicans without the extra H-1B baggage of a labor condition application (LCA) or specialty occupation analysis. Canadian professionals listed in Appendix 1603. D.1 to Annex 1603 of NAFTA can apply and be admitted to the U.S. under TN work category in a 24-hour period. The TN is also useful Canadians and Mexicans who have used up their allotted L-1 and/or H-1B time.

When presenting a TN application at a POE/PFI, the application paperwork should be straightforward and streamlined. You need to bring proof of your Canadian or Mexican citizenship, a detailed letter describing the professional activity as it appears in 8 CFR 214.6, documentation of the credentials as listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 (a resume is recommended), and application fee. The application must include every item required in 8 CFR 214.6(d).

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By Yingfei Zhou, Esq.

In late Friday afternoon of May 2, 2014, the client, a Canadian citizen, contacted our firm about applying for a TN visa as a Technical Publications Writer. A few days before coming to our office, he was denied TN status at the U.S./Canada Champlain border. According to the client, the border agent denied the application, after finding that our client had no experience as a Technical Publications Writer based on the documents presented at the interview. The denial was later confirmed by the CBP supervisor.

The client contacted our firm and wanted to retain us to review his prior application documents which were all prepared by him and help him re-apply for the same position. During the initial communication, the client told us that he already booked an early flight on Monday morning, May 5, to re-apply for the same visa at the Montreal airport. In particular, the client was worried about the strength of his case and was concerned about lack of time for case preparation before his travel on Monday. To relieve his anxiety, the case was immediately assigned to an associate attorney at our office specialized in TN visa applications to ensure that the case would be finished in the same afternoon.

In a recent NY Times article, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner spoke about improving economic relations between Tijuana and San Diego. Mr. Filner has taken steps to make progress in improving these relations by opening up an office in Tijuana in order to work closely with businesses and the mayor’s office in Tijuana. When he opened San Diego’s Tijuana office this year, Mr. Filner spoke in grand terms about the future of cross-border relations. “Dos ciudades, pero una region — we are two cities, but one region,” he said, using the phrase popular among those who want more collaboration in the area. San Diego would put in a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, he said, but only to host jointly with Tijuana.

“We need to make the border the center, not the end — but the biggest problem we have is not security, it is openness and communication,” Mr. Filner said in an interview in his City Hall office. “People have to understand that the infrastructure that we need should be an important part of any discussion on immigration. The volume here is so incredible, yet nobody understands how much this matters. People can’t go back and forth, and we’re losing out.”

“The political buzz made it so that there is a self-evident truth that the border was out of control, and that national stigma remains,” said Paul Ganster, the director of the Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias at San Diego State University. “It might make people from Iowa feel better knowing that it takes hours to cross the border, but a better approach is to fix the border so it functions for legitimate purposes. Right now we’re just penalizing ourselves with huge inefficiencies.”

USCIS has announced a new filing option on behalf of Canadian TN Nonimmigrants. As of October 1st, USCIS will begin accepting Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, filed on behalf of Canadian citizens who are outside of the United States and seeking classification as a TN nonimmigrant. This change in the policy allows Canadians who wish to petition USCIS rather than applying at the port of entry through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as has been the procedure in the past.

While this change does grant more options to Canadians who may not be able to readily make their way to a U.S. port of entry, it must also be noted that it is more expensive to apply to USCIS, as the filing fee is $325 rather than the less expensive fee of $56 at the port of entry. In addition, the filing for a TN petition with USCIS will take a longer time to get adjudicated because the immigration service center will need to review the petition. This could take anywhere from 1-2 months at a minimum, while a petition at the port of entry will have a decision that day for the TN visa and the visa will be issued that very day.

So while the change is a good one for providing Canadians more options when filing for a TN visa, the considerations mentioned above should be discussed with any employer before deciding what is best when applying for a TN visa. Our office has been very successful in getting TN visas granted for our clients and can answer any questions you may have should a TN visa be in your future.

The following is a brief update regarding the period of admission allowed under the TN visa and how is it determined by CBP officers.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows certain Canadian and Mexican professionals to qualify for TN nonimmigrant classification in order to provide professional services in the United States.

A citizen of Canada may apply for TN classification concurrently with an application for admission at a U.S. Class A port-of-entry, at a U.S. airport handling international traffic, or at a U.S. pre-clearance/pre-flight station. It is not necessary for a citizen of Canada to first apply for a TN visa at a U.S. consulate outside the United States.