Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

TN visa

Any Canadians working in US on TN visa's in this board?
Is it easy to get an TN at the border?

Saturday, January 31, 2004

It's easy (although stressful) if you're qualified. 

Under what classification?

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Isn't the TN visa under the auspice of free trade (i.e. NAFTA)? Under such it shouldn't be difficult, presuming that you have the necessary qualifications.

Having said that, there are designated list of professions that fall under the TN visa, and I distinctly recall (from back in the days when the US would be a good destination career-wise for a software developer) that computer programming, or any related discipline, is _not_ covered.

Dennis Forbes
Saturday, January 31, 2004

... computer programming, or any related discipline, is _not_ covered.

Sort of.  Computer programming is explicitly denied, but Computer Systems Analyst is a perfectly valid category.  I believe this is due to the cheapening of the term "programmer" from when it meant what we call analyst today to Excel macro writer, HTML "coder", etc.

You will need a 4 year degree in the field or a two year degree and three years experience.  In the field can mean CS, MIS, or Mathematics as a slam dunk.

If you don't have these, it's increasingly unlikely under this category. What's worse, it can depend entirely on the mood of the immigration inspector.

I've had four Systems Analyst TNs, but have had to switch to Management Consultant, since immigration has since determined my Philosophy degree doesn't count any more (one INS inspector entry asked me about my "sociology"
degree - grrrr).

Saturday, January 31, 2004

And this is supposed to be easier because of special NAFTA privledges? It's easier than that to emigrate to New Zealand and we don't have any treaties with them.

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, January 31, 2004

Mongo, I have a 4 year degree in cs, but do the immigration officials at the border cause any trouble, that is can I be rejected?

Saturday, January 31, 2004

What can I say?

Only the government could screw up something so simple so badly.

Saturday, January 31, 2004


They can always cause trouble, and you can also be rejected, but ...

A 4 year in CS should be fine as long as your documents are in order, the paperwork is done correctly (e.g. - it does _not_ say or describe a programming position per se), you don't have a criminal record, etc. Also, if they ask about your job,make sure you talk about things like ...

You might check out

Given that the TN visa has to be applied for by the company who has offered you the job (a US company has offerred you a job, no?), they should take care of all this.  You just have to go to the border, look professional, submit your stuff, and off you go.

Remember, they're beaurocrats, so if you don't give them a reason to reject you, they rarely will.  Even if you are rejected (unlikely) at one port of entry, you can just go try at another.

If you're _really_ worried, though,you should get a lawyer to help you.  I really, really doubt you need one though.

Saturday, January 31, 2004


Another thought.

I've heard the Niagara crossing port has a bad reputation for hassling TNs, as does the BC peace arch port. Rumours only, but I thought I'd share them.

Where are you from, BTW?  I'm sort of from Calgary, myself.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Nova Scotia, Halifax, will try the New Brunswick border

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Mongo, just another thing, my degree has mispelling in the last name, from my passport, do u think it will be trouble?

Saturday, January 31, 2004

I got my TN visa in about 10mins at Ogdensburg, south of Ottawa. I just showed my degree, job offer and paid $50. This was in 1994 though...

Now a U.S. citizen
Saturday, January 31, 2004


No, I don't think it'd be a problem, but I'd get it fixed anyway.  The university should be willing to do this for a nominal fee. If that's a hassle, a letter from the registrar or the department head should work just as well.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Check the forums on this site:

I didn’t use their services otherwise, but I bought the book and read the forums before I applied for a TN1 in 2001. You can find there more information pertaining to Canadians working in US than pure visa questions. Pay special attention if you want to import your car to US.

I did not have any problems crossing the border at Buffallo in 2001 but I was quite well prepared.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

I got a tn-1 visa last year back in March. A few points:

1) Ogdensburg -- it still works, two other friends of mine got theirs there before we went to work in Florida

2) Regardless of where you get it, you'll need your original degree (4-years+) and a letter from your employer. This is the fun part; depending on who you get at customs, your letter may or may not state enough things about the company.

If you decide to get it at the airport/border, make sure you have the phone number for the company you're going to work for so they can fax a letter with whatever the customs officer wants to see on it right away.

Besides's pretty easy. I went in and out of the states several times with my canadian passport and tn-1 stapled in. Don't let anyone take it from you ... to be on the safe side, just photocopy it before you leave.

btw - i'm from pei :) how's the weather in the maritimes these days? ;)

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Not bad at all in the maritimies, especially last week..

Sunday, February 1, 2004

I've had 3 TN's with three seprate companies, one of them renewed, no hassles.

I was warned against getting mine at YVR by the first company, but the last two were through YVR without any problems.

(first one was YUL, no problems).

Also had L1 at Niagara -- they did call the company to verify that i was an employee (good thing programmers still work at 8pm Friday night =) ).

Now we'd better close up this thread before the H1B lynch mob sets its sights on us meek Canadians quietly contributing to the U.S. economy.

Monday, February 2, 2004

Would be nice if our dollar becomes stronger. In that case, we would be able to afford long(er) visits south of the border.

Any place more beautiful than Vancouver BC?

Monday, February 2, 2004

> I've heard the Niagara crossing port has a bad
> reputation for hassling TNs

They certainly hassled me, though I _totally_ deserved it.  (Keep in mind, this was eight years ago, things may have changed, this is anecdotal.)

Due to a screwup with the relo company I ended up crossing the border a few days early, without all my paperwork in order, on the Saturday of the Canada Day / Indepdendence Day weekend -- which is the single busiest day at the Niagara Falls crossing. 

They were not real happy to see me.

Now, during the few hours that I spent watching people cross the border, I learned why those guys are so grumpy. 

Holy cow.  People attempting to cross the border with no ID, like, zero.  Giggling teenage girls who can't answer "how old are you?" with a straight face.  People attempting to walk right across the border without stopping to chat with an agent. 

But the highlight of the day was the guy who immediately yelled "Where was I born?  You want to know where I was born?  What are you guys, a bunch of RACISTS?  Do you ask WHITE PEOPLE where they were born?  Why haven't you asked HER where she was born?"  -- pointing at the (white) woman in line BEHIND him.

Add to that recent graduates who don't have their TN paperwork in order, and I'd be grumpy too.

To answer the actual question -- provided that you show up with all the right paperwork and not at Niagara Falls on the busiest day of the year, it is very straigthforward.  Note that it is better to actually go to the border than to attempt to get one by mail.  At least when I last tried it took MONTHS to get the thing done by mail, and hours or minutes at the border.

Eric Lippert
Monday, February 2, 2004

America is the land which symolizes double standards and the racism and discrimination are far worse than any country on this planet. Look at their president. He can't even stand to see a brave judge approving gay marriage in massachuset and he wants to overthrow the decision by ammendment. Mega idiot.

Land of great opportunity, my a#@.

Guys and gals, come up north. We are hospitable, libral and friendly nation who love all colors, races, orientation, etc. We are not government by bunch of fantatics.

Friday, February 6, 2004

government should be governed.

Friday, February 6, 2004

Ogdensburg is a great place to get a TN just because the people there seem happy. I got rejected twice at the Toronto airport and my ticket became toast!

Friday, February 20, 2004

I almost forgot, this is a great website about TN's:

Friday, February 20, 2004

What happens if you are rejected at the canadian border?
Do they stamp your passport or give you a document?
Can somebody please give me details?


Neha Choudhari
Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I've had several TNs with several companies.  The only time I had a problem was at my first renewal.  Peace Bridge, Buffalo.  Due to a poorly crafted letter, they rejected my renewal.  The 21 year old inspector also determined that my first TN, in her opinion, was issued in error!!  So she voided the final 12 days, and forced me back to Canada!!  I camped out at Kinkos, and with the help of my company and a fax machine, got a suitable letter.  But for a while, (1 day) I was "sent home!"

The lessons: make sure the letter is bullet-proof!!  Have them write a book.  Make sure your title is a TN occupation!!  Or you will be toast.  Dress well.  Have your original degree.  Have your passport, and make sure it is valid for AT LEAST the next 18 months.

I have had no problems since at Niagara.  If they have any doubts for you in Buffalo or other Niagara crossings, they will send you to the regional TN specialist at the Rainbow Bridge.  The person (Mr. Bob Skuce) is very tough, but also very fair.  He took the time to explain why and what I needed.

Also: DO NOT take a TN application from one crossing to another in the same timeframe if rejected (example: do NOT go from the Whirpool Bridge, to the Rainbow Bridge, to the Peace Bridge).  This can get you in front of an immigration judge, and can get you barred from the U.S.  It is illegal.  Luckily they had mercy on me, at the time a naive 22 year old.  If you are rejected, and re-apply, make sure that something in your application is changed, and that you disclose the time and place you were rejected.  Trust me.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I am intending to apply for the TN Visa as a Computer System Analyst for the first time.  However, I only have a 3-year post secondary diploma in Computer Science.  As such, I am required to show 3 years of experience.  How do I go about showing the INS my work experience?  Does the experience has to relate to that of a System Analyst?  Any help is greatly appreciated

Monday, May 3, 2004

just out of curiousity what are the chances of going to the airport and applying for the TN visa? i've got a job lined up but i need to fly in order to get there. any advice??

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

If your job title is extremely obvious, such as "teacher", and you have a matching degree (i.e. teaching degree), then the airport is probably fine. However, if there is an explanation as to how the job relates to the TN occupation, it might be a crap shoot. Look for the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the book they use at Toronto Airport. If your job is in there and under the right category, you should be ok. If not, go to  a recommended border crossing and get your TN before flying.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Thanks for all the usefull information at this site. I will go to apply for a TN visa at the Calgary International Airport a few days later. My filght is scheduled for about 7 am. Will there be any TN official available in the early morning? I am a little concerned about that. Or should I contact the US Customs and Immigrations at the airport first to ensure that they will arrange one TN official at that time? How can I contact them?

Thanks a lot!

Monday, June 21, 2004

Just curious as to whether it is possible to be in the US on a visitor's visa (B-2) and look for employemnt and then switch to a TN once you've found one.


Monday, June 21, 2004

I have tried to get my TN for the past week and I have been rejected 4 times between Peach Arch and Pacific Hwy Truck Crossing. I have heard that the quota for issuing a TN for this is year has maxed out, I am quite frustrated and I am unsure of what my next procedure should be? Please advice.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

I have an offer from US company for six months contract for Computer Systems Analyst role. Do I really need lawyer to get TN visa ?. Company is not ready to pay fees for Lawyer.  I have inquired about Lawyer's fee and it's around 2000 USD. Can I just go to border with necessary documents? Please advice

Friday, July 2, 2004

I need help.  I have an L1 and have been offered a position with another I need to lose my L1 status to apply for a TN visa in order to work for the other company?  Also, I have a business degree in Finance and the position will be in sales/product development...Do you foresee a problem getting a TN, is there another route, I have heard the quotas for H1's are long exceeded...please advise.

Hardip Gill
Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Hi Guys,

This is a really good forum regarding TN Visa. I have a question. Do the INS Officers require your highest degree or all the degrees you got? For example, I have a bachelor, Master, and PhD degree. The PhD degree is from Canada. Other degrees are from outside America.



John Lee
Thursday, September 2, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home