Monday, September 1, 2008

TN - NAFTA Professional Visa

Higher education has a much easier time hiring international professionals to teach and support research. It is easier for a number of reasons - education is exempt from the H1b cap that limits businesses from obtaining a visa for international employees, most college and universities have a vibrant and robust F/M/J Visa program through the Department of State, which allows of OPT (training) post graduation and with international faculty already on campus, they serve as a terrific recruiting resource.

But the easiest visitor to bring to the United States to work is a Canadian Professional. NAFTA allows us to bring in Canadians (and Mexicans with slightly different directions) who qualify for a TN with a letter, $50 and $6.50 for the I-94. The TN is not dual intent, meaning it is not intended to allow a pathway to citizenship. It is available in one year increments, the NAFTA professional must maintain a residence in Canada and the derivative visas do not allow for spouses to work.

I recently had a colleague come from Canada to teach for this academic year. This faculty member comes every once in a while to teach; he is an alum of the college and loves to come periodically to cover for sabbaticals or temporary increased enrollment. He is the PERFECT example of a TN - has a home and job in Canada, has family in Canada and has no interest or intent of ever permanently immigrating to the US. This year was a particularly trying time at the Border. (Washington State if you must know). He knows the games played by Border and ICE Agents but this year, well this was a treat. The exchange went something like this:

Border Agent (BA) We only process TNs between 0600 and 1200.
Faculty: Your sign says 24 hour service.
BA: That is subject to change
Faculty: When should I come back?
BA: You can wait a while and I will see if I can get to you.

Waits for a while.....then is allowed to present documents

BA: Your employment letter is four months old.
Faculty: Employment letters are usually written a year in advance. So this one is quite recent.
BA: No one would accept this, the letter is too old.
Faculty: Someone did accept it, last year, right at this post.
BA: No, no one would take it.
Faculty: Actually someone did take it, and that someone was YOU, last year at this post. Here are last year's papers to prove it.

Now the Border Agent is seething and sends my faculty away. They do not need a reason to refuse entry to a visitor. He calls me from the road and tells me that he needs a new letter. We both get a hearty chuckle and we both know that we can't send him back through Washington. In fact, he may never be able to cross there again. Ever. So he travels to Ontario, I send him a new letter and he comes into the US with no problem.

I can't make this stuff up. Coming up, some interesting reader questions.

1 comment:

Academic said...

Oh man oh man oh man. Thank you for working to keep things good with our Canadian neighbors, oops, neighbours.