TN Visa: Help me prepare!
August 26, 2008 2:21 PM   Subscribe

American working in Canada: help me prepare for the TN Visa interview process!

In two days, I'll be flying to Canada for a temporary job teaching/tutoring English writing to ESL students in a university learning center. I have a copy of the job offer, my resume, transcripts (proving education that dovetails with the job), and several letters of recommendation (I don't, however, have a rec from my only ESL job due to job turn-over at my old office resulting in a stack of unanswered emails). This last bit makes me nervous, but at this point I don't know what else to do but go ahead. Beyond all this, how should I prepare? Are there any trick questions I should be wary of? What details should I stress (or omit) during the interview? What am I forgetting?

(For what it's worth, I'll actually be flying to Seattle and crossing overland at Blaine, so I won't have to deal with touchy airport customs people.)
posted by soviet sleepover to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't forget your passport.

I hope the offer clearly states the position is for 12 months or less (to prove you're not moving to Canada forever). Offer should also include salary information. Bring a job description (including job title) for the intended employment in Canada. You're also going to need some cash to pay for filing fees and form fees. Bring Canadian cash - I'd say about 100 bucks.

Do you have a letter from your future employer relating the position on the nafta list?

Sorry, no advice on the interview. They don't really try very much to trip people up, just to get honest answers.
posted by kirstk at 2:51 PM on August 26, 2008

My Canadian grad school supervisor had the US version of this visa (I forget its designation) for a number of years and he said the process was quite painless. As long as you're honest and have all the documentation they ask for, you should be fine. When it comes to the actual paperwork, when in doubt, bring it.

(For what it's worth, I'll actually be flying to Seattle and crossing overland at Blaine, so I won't have to deal with touchy airport customs people.)

As an aside, it's Labour Day weekend and the border line is likely going to be really long. If you're driving (instead of taking a bus or a train), consider going through the truck crossing here instead of Peace Arch. They're less than a km apart, but the wait can be hugely different.
posted by Nelsormensch at 3:21 PM on August 26, 2008

If you get a customs agent in a good mood, it might take 30 seconds to process you. If they're grumpy like mine was, they'll ask you a bunch of random questions, grumble a lot, and process you in half an hour. Honestly, even if you get denied, go to a different port and you'll probably get it, it's really a crapshoot.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2008

I had this visa as a Canadian working in the US for a number of years. I had two things that could have been problems the first time I got the visa, but ultimately it was no problem: 1) make sure you have a copy of the NAFTA info that says your job qualifies under this visa. The officer who processed me didn't know that a librarian (which was my job at the time) qualified so he had to look it up. 2) Make sure your offer letter details your salary, benefits, length of employment (no more than a year and it should state specifically the start and end dates if possible) and some details about your work duties. My offer letter was kind of scant on the benefits front and while the salary was fair to cover my living expenses the officer advised that they often also want to make sure that I'll have medical insurance, etc. covered while I'm employed so I don't "drain the system" (his actual words). And for some strange reason they also wanted to see my actual physical diploma, which I had just because I got it two days earlier.
posted by marylynn at 4:34 PM on August 26, 2008

I'm a librarian currently working in Canada, and I didn't have an interview at the border. Now granted, I came across at Sarnia, ON at like two in the morning, but really all it was was a matter of handing my paperwork to the very pleasant border guys, and them stamping out a permit for me. Dead easy. I guess they could grump and grill you, but as blue_beetle says, that's a crapshoot.

So bring every single piece of paperwork you've been issued -- your degree, your offer letter, passport, etc. etc. Basically everything you can think of. I had a series of envelopes -- one for my job offer stuff, one for my car license things, another one for the moving truck. Probably others too.

And yeah, make it very very very very plain that this is a one-year appointment, even if your employers have said differently to you.

If you've got any questions, please feel free to MeMail me.
posted by the dief at 6:54 PM on August 26, 2008

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