Entry as a Visitor Allowed After TN Visa Denial?

Question: I am a Canadian and I worked in the States for 3 and a half years and I renewed my TN visa four times with the same employer. I found another job. I will go to the border to apply for a TN visa again. If the visa is denied and I have to go to Canada, when can I return to the States so I can take all my things from here? Can I just come back the next day? After a week?

Reply: When a border inspector denies a Canadian citizen’s application for TN visa status, the inspector generally denies entry to the U.S. In limited cases, the inspector may still allow the applicant entry to the U.S. as a “B” visitor for a short period of time to wind down his/her affairs in the U.S. In this situation, the inspector usually issues an I-94 card limiting the stay of the individual’s visit.

Where the applicant is not allowed to enter the U.S. immediately following the denial of the TN visa application, he/she must return to Canada. The denial of a TN visa application can affect an individual’s ability to subsequently enter the U.S. as a visitor depending on the basis for the denial. Allegations that an applicant committed an immigration violation may significantly impair one’s ability to enter the U.S.

For example, if the inspector denied the TN application due to an accumulation of unlawful presence under INA § 212 (a) (9), this could result in a 3/10 year bar to the U.S. Egregious immigration violators may be expedited removed from the U.S., which results in a 5 year bar to the U.S. If the border inspector denied the application based on fraud under INA § 212 (a) (6), this would result in a lifetime bar to the U.S. In most of these scenarios, only subsequent obtainment of a waiver may permit entry to the U.S.

If the inspector denies the TN visa application because he/she believes that the applicant does not meet the basic requirements for the TN, the denial (generally issued under INA § 212 (a) (7) (A) (i) (I)) normally does not result in a specific bar to the U.S. However, the denial usually will result in heightened scrutiny the next time the individual seeks admission to the U.S.  

There is no specific time frame governing when an individual in this scenario may apply for admission to the U.S. as a visitor. When applying for re-admission to the U.S., the individual should disclose to the border inspector the prior TN denial. The individual should also document his/her eligibility for entry as a visitor. The more evidence an individual can provide showing residence/employment in Canada and proof of a return to Canada, the more likely he/she will be allowed to enter the U.S. as a visitor.

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