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Applying for the Work/TN Visa

I forgot to mention that if you are a Canadian citizen, you can fill out that you have work authorization and need TN visa when completing your profile for hired.com.  Other answers may get you rejected right away.   

Congratulations!  You’ve passed your interviews,  landed an offer and are ready for the next step.  Be sure to take the time to celebrate and feel the excitement for as long as you can.  There are so many dependencies that I had to figure out before I could celebrate and my short termed excitement was soon replaced with worries. 

The job offer usually has a condition that depends on whether you can get work authorization or otherwise.  Canadian Citizens can apply to work in the U.S. through the TN visa program.  All I had to do was present the documents that my company’s immigration lawyer helped me put together at the U.S. custom.  Many Canadians drive to Niagara falls to obtain their visa, but I did not have a car.  So I had to figure something out.  More on this later.  The other great thing was that there is no quota on this visa and it’s very easy to apply for one.  But to get it approved can be a challenge. Initially, I was not aware that my company had an immigration lawyer. I began to do some research on living in NYC and obtaining the work visa.  I called my friends and received some good guidance, especially from Ruban who is now living in the states after landing a job in the states.  He gave me some ideas on what to expect during the visa process. The starting date was about a month away and I have read that you cannot apply too early for your work visa.  It was catch 22.  I wanted to make sure that I could obtain a visa before I made plans on what I needed to take care of in Canada including my apartment, current job, bank accounts, taxes, etc.  Not only that, but I also had to figure out my accommodations in New York City. 

My paperwork were not ready for me until a week later because folks were on vacation.  It was during end of December.  I was worried that there would be no one available at the custom border to approve a TN visa.  It took several calls before I found someone on the phone to tell me that they operated all year round.  Now, since I did not have a car, I could rent one but I also never driven on snow or winter weather.  My other source of transportation was unreliable. So what was my alternatives?   

“No visa.  No job.“ 

These were the thoughts and worries that went through my mind all this time.
My wife, at the last minute, suggested I book a one way flight ticket to NYC and void it since I was not ready to depart.  Luckily, the one way ticket cost $120 CAD and we were set to go to the Pearson airport with my admission ticket.  It would’ve been the price of a day car rental so it wasn’t too bad after figuring out all the logistics.  

Here is a checklist on what I brought with me on the day of my flight: 

☐One-way flight ticket
☐Credit card for visa processing (they didn’t accept cash)
☐Canadian passport
☐Canadian citizenship paper
☐Documents prepared by the immigration lawyer including original offer letter, application forms (2 copies, one for me and one for the company), letter describing the company and my job responsibility, and copies of diplomas, degree transcripts, any previous TN visas, and Canadian passport.
☐Original documents for the list above 

We got there around 9:30pm the night before for the early morning 6am flight.  When we got there, the custom or border was already closed!  We had the entire day and thought it was best to go closer to the departure time. It did not occur to me to check their schedule.  We decided to wait at the airport for the customs to open at 4:30am the next day.  There were many foot traffic and bright light during these whole time so it was hard to get some rest.  A better decision would have been to take the subway/bus back home. It was too late when we decided to do that. 

At 4am, I reported to the airport workers that I was there to obtain a TN visa.  They let me go through very quickly and I was the first person in the office.  It was probably not a very good time. I was asked many questions and in the end, I was denied for my first time because there was some issue with the letter.

Panic time! 

My flight ticket was re-scheduled for free, fortunately.  The airline changed it and wished me luck for next time since it would not be free again.  They recommended a later flight time since it normally takes time to get the visa and get it approved. I gave myself another week and a later flight time to try again. I had to give enough time to my immigration lawyer and recruiter to provide the corrected letter. They were very quick to rectify the issue (3 days turn around time) and I waited 4 more days before I showed up at the airport.
I gave my resignation to my current job already to give my two-weeks notice so there was no turning point.   

My wife went to the airport with me via the express train at 7am in the morning.  We did not have to wait long.  Success this time!  The customs officers had a copy of everything I brought in last time and asked for the corrected letter. I was not ask many questions this time. He told me I was very qualified. So do not worry if you don’t get your TN visa approved the first time.  It will happen if everything is aligned.  Good luck!