Avoid disasters at U.S.-Canada border crossings by crafting an airtight employer letter
We recently had a TN case denied at a bridge crossing from Ontario, Canada. The denial was not based on anything substantive. Our Canadian national had all of his correct documents including his Canadian passport, original college diploma; signed offer letter and supporting letter from the U.S. employer; plus proof of more than three years of relevant experience. His field was clearly on the NAFTA list.
So what went wrong? According to our client, he sensed immediately that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer wanted to deny him entry for some reason and that the officer pounced on the employer support letter and came up with a series of requirements that only the officer wanted to see in the letter as a pretext for the denial. None of these requirements is written anywhere in the regulations or policy memos but we would like to pass along these tips just in case one of our readers runs into the same officer at this border crossing:
- The employer letter must be original; the officer would not accept a signed and scanned letter in pdf format;
- The letter must contain the exact start date even if the start date is listed in the signed offer letter as ours was;
- The description of the position in the U.S. and the recitation of the applicant’s credentials must be presented in bullet point format and not in whole paragraphs as we had written in the letter.
We immediately had the employer company Fed Ex an original amended letter up to our TN applicant who was granted TN entry that same day that he received the Fed Ex. Moral of the story: give CBP exactly what they say they want in the format that they want. No-one has the time or inclination to make a federal case over bullet points instead of paragraphs.