Advance Processing of TN/L-1 Visa Applications at Border?

In February 2011, the United States and Canada announced their intention to enhance security measures at the border, and to accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between the two countries. See Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness (Feb. 4, 2011). 

In December 2011, the two countries released an Action Plan for implementing this initiative. One aspect of this plan appears to involve enhancing the processing of temporary employment applications under NAFTA. Specifically, the plan states that the two countries “will review current administrative processes under which all categories of business travelers may request adjudication of employment and related petitions by the destination country’s immigration authorities to identify and resolve potential issues prior to the actual date of travel.” Action Plan, pg. 15.

According to the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA), this proposal will focus on the advanced submission of TN and L-1 visa applications. AILA, Letter to Beyond the Border Co-ord. (Jan. 9, 2012), AILA Doc. No. 12011062 (posted 1/10/12). The appeal of this proposal is that it would afford (I assume) a preliminary review of the merits of an individual’s application. For example, perhaps CBP will make an initial assessment on the appropriateness of a TN visa category, the suitability of an applicant’s credentials, or on issues of inadmissibility. This would allow applicants the opportunity to address any issues prior to traveling to the port-of-entry.

According to this Action Plan, improvements or new procedures should be established by Sept. 30, 2012. We will continue to monitor these developments, and provide any TN visa related updates when available.