TN visas are issued to Canadian and Mexican nationals in order to perform temporary services within the United States for designated professions. In accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the TN visa permits eligible Canadian and Mexican citizens to carry out their occupations in fields like engineering, accounting, science, law, etc.
You may be asking yourself: Why was my TN visa denied? What are the procedures to reapply or seek alternative options? If this is you, keep reading. In this post we’ll explore some common scenarios for a TN visa denial as well as tips for reapplying or seeking alternatives.
Is There a Difference Between Denial and Rejection?
First things first. Many people mistakenly use the terms denial and rejection interchangeably. While this may be acceptable in many circumstances, in immigration law, the two terms mean very different things.
The USCIS uses a two-pronged approach when adjudicating visas. The first prong involves having an officer perform a cursory overview of your application and supporting documents to make sure that all of your information is complete, accurate, consistent, and has enough support. He or she will also determine if the correct fee has been submitted. If your TN petition does not pass this stage, then your case will likely be rejected.
On the other hand, if your petition passes the first stage, then the officer will perform a more in-depth analysis of your case to determine whether or not you meet the requirements for the TN visa and if you are eligible for approval. If you do not pass this phase then your petition will be denied.
If you receive a rejection, then correcting the mistake and re-applying is likely the best solution, though you should consult your immigration attorney first. If, however, you receive a TN visa denial, then different measures will need to be taken.
Common Reasons for Having Your TN Visa Denied
There are a number of possible reasons why you may receive a TN visa denied notice. Based on past cases our TN visa attorneys have handled some of the most common reasons are as follows:
- Either the support or employment letter was overwritten.
- You indicated the wrong NAFTA occupation and/or did not meet the necessary qualifications (training, degrees, experience, etc.) for the position.
- You either have a problematic criminal background or you have violated your immigration status in the past.
- Did not adequately demonstrate a nonimmigrant intent. In other words, you did not pass the ‘strong ties’ test which is a basis for evaluating an alien’s presumed intent to immigrate. Factors such as property, family and back accounts in the home country are often sufficient to demonstrate ties.
- It was found that you were pursuing green card status, thus violating the nonimmigrant intent of the TN visa.
- Your application was under-documented or the immigration officer did not feel their was sufficient evidence.
- During your interview, you providing conflicting answers regarding your position, duties or other details pertaining to your case.
There are a number of other scenarios which may result in a TN visa denied. In any case, the POE officer is supposed to inform you of the reason. Fortunately it’s not the end of the road if your visa is denied since you can reapply or file an alternative visa application.
Consequences of a Denial
It’s crucial to take your immigration matters seriously because not doing so can cost you not only time but valuable opportunities. For example, if your TN visa is denied your employer may fill the position with another applicant. Other consequence could include missing your employment start date, incurring additional fees for travel accommodation or flights, or missing job opportunities altogether.
If you are in the U.S. under a different visa and your attempt to change your status to the TN category is denied, you will need to leave the U.S. before the departure date listed on your I-94 card for the original visa. If you overstay, you will be at risk of being considered “out of status”, which could result in serious consequences such as barring from attempts to enter the U.S. in the future.
We also can’t forget the emotional component involved. Since all these factors come into play it’s advised to seek the help of a qualified TN Visa Attorney when applying the first time around or reapplying.
What if I Get My TN Visa Extension Denied?
While you are able to extend your TN visa indefinitely, you still need to file a new form each time. This leaves you open to the possibility of getting your extension denied. If this happens, you will have until the departure date provided on your I-94 arrival/departure card. As previously mentioned, overstaying can have dire consequences.
To best avoid this, you should apply for your TN visa extension long before your departure date. This will give you sufficient time to find another course of action if you receive a TN visa extension denial.
TN Visa Denied — Tips for Reapplying
- Take into consideration what the POE officer indicated as the reason for denial. For example, if they expressed doubts regarding the employment letter’s qualifications it may be worthwhile to have your employer redraft the documentation in a more concise manner.
- Some individuals have found success by returning to the same POE officer who originally handled their case, since they are more familiar with the details. Others have found the opposite to be true if they felt they were treated poorly or unfairly.
- Review the application several times to make sure that all the information has been thoroughly completed and is up-to-date. Ensure that your job letter has all the basic elements necessary including:
- Company name
- Job title and description
- You’ll be surprised to learn how often this basic elements are excluded from the application. Sometimes individuals get overwhelmed with the paperwork and simply overlook these important factors.
- Proceed with caution when changing important information for the same employer and position because officers may be able to cross-reference your prior documentation. If this occurs, there may be suspicion raised on the accuracy of your answers.
In any case, it highly recommended to consult a lawyer with experience handling complex TN visa cases. They will be able to devise the best strategy for reapplying as well as preparing your for the interview.
Can the Decision Be Appealed?
Unfortunately, in your TN visa denial letter, it should state that you do not have the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office. This is usually true of all nonimmigrant visas that use the I-129 petition. Therefore, most people who receive a denial either re-apply for the TN visa or attempt to apply under a different visa.
What is the TN Visa Denial and Approval Rate?
While the Department of State does not provide TN visa denial rates or total petition submissions, it does tell us how many visas are issued. In 2016, there were 14,768 TN visas approved by the DOS. As long as you adhere to the criteria and have an experienced immigration attorney helping you, your chances of approval are high in the TN category.
Other Visa Alternatives
There are a number of other employment based visa alternatives which may be applicable to your case. Depending on your qualifications, you may be eligible for visas in lieu of your denied visa including:
- EB-1 green card: The employment first preference category is designated for those who fall into one of three groups–extraordinary ability, outstanding professors/researchers and executives or managers. Individuals who fall in the extraordinary ability category may have skills related to science, arts, education, business or athletics. Click here to read more about the EB-1 visa.
- EB-2 green card: The employment second preference category is allocated for professionals holding advanced degrees (beyond a baccalaureate) or individuals with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business. Read more about EB-2 visa options.
- EB-3 green card: The employment third preference category is for skilled workers or persons capable of performing a job requiring at least two years training or experience. Learn more about EB-3 visas.
- H-1B visa: Much like the TN visa, H-1B visas allow employers to hire qualified foreign workers in the U.S. in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. Unlike the TN visa however, the H-1B visa operates on a lottery system unless you qualify for one of the cap exempt categories.
- L-1 visa: If you work as a manager, executive, or specialized employee of a company that has a presence in both your home country and the U.S., you may be eligible for the L-1A or L-1B visas.
- O-1 visa: The O-1 is the nonimmigrant equivalent to the EB-1A green card, requiring extraordinary achievement to qualify.
- J-1 visa: If you can find a government-designated program to sponsor you, the J-1 visa may be a good fit depending on your occupation.
To learn what other options may be available to you, we recommend scheduling a free consultation with a TN visa lawyer to explore your options.
Consult a TN Visa Attorney
You may run into a few roadblocks after having a TN visa denied and beginning the process for reapplying. For that reason it’s always advisable to have an attorney on your side. The attorneys at SGM Law Group will be able to review your embassy requirements and process your qualifications for the NAFTA professional position. Throughout every step of the process we’ll provide you with frequent USCIS updates and any changes to your case. During your initial consultation we’ll be better able to explain our strategy for seeking an approval.