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My colleague and I were denied into the USA today from Canada for a work-sanctioned trip. We are both Canadian citizens with Canadian passports. My colleague was unable to properly communicate the objectives of our travel and unfortunately the border guards interpreted this as work that would require to have TN visas. So they took fingerprints and whatnot and denied us access. A few questions:

  1. What will be the impact of this when traveling to USA for pleasure? Are there any restrictions I should be aware of in the future?
  2. Is there a certain duration in which the information will be removed from the file?
  3. Will I require a Visa whenever I travel to the USA for work related reasons? Meetings for example.
  4. Will this impact the potential for immigration in the future? Note: not interested in immigrating, just curious.
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Will this impact future travel? Absolutely no doubt. –  karancan Jul 14 at 10:05
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Contact a good immigration lawyer in the US (specifically, someone who regularly deals with corporate travel) right away. Because in some countries (not sure about the US), you can appeal decisions made at the border, but you have a short time window in which to do it. –  Eugene O Jul 14 at 16:35
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@radian You would not believe the amount of time and effort companies have to waste getting just the right letter and exactly the right answer for their employees. It's really unfortunate :( Even with lawyers drafting letters, you can still run into issues. –  Jedidja Jul 17 at 14:10
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@EugeneO There is no reason to appeal not being let in. If they say you need a TN-1, then you have to apply for a TN-1 or cross your fingers that the next border agent you talk to is more agreeable and you learn to answer the questions properly. –  Jedidja Jul 17 at 14:17
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@radian That sucks they expected you to 'massage' the truth. Any chance of just driving across? Much easier to say you're going on vacation then... –  Jedidja Jul 17 at 14:18
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2 Answers 2

I've been in exactly this situation.

  1. There are no official restrictions (see below), but you may get asked extra questions. As long as you weren't denied entry because you were in the US too long (and it sounds like you weren't), this is not a "bad" denial as if you were a criminal and denied entry.

  2. I couldn't find any information on this, but I have had friends who were denied TN-1 entry (or forgot to return their TN-1 card on exiting) that still get questioned about it 10 years later.

  3. No, not required, but each border agent is different. Officially, if you are going for a short period of time for business, no one cares: provided you are explicit it is for meetings, no work will be performed there, etc. But again, the "official" rules are subject to the whim of the border agent. The key is to prove that no work will be performed, otherwise it falls under the requirements for a TN-1.

    The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers (http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/employment/nafta.html)

  4. It should not, as it is not a "real" denial of entry in any sort of criminal-related manner. The border agents in Ottawa were quite clear about this.

http://www.tnvisabulletin.com/nafta-tn-blog/2010/5/4/entry-as-a-visitor-allowed-after-tn-visa-denial.html

The most relevant sections are here:

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.

(That doesn't seem to apply to you.)

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.

(This does seem relevant)

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this is the key. Meetings don't require a TN1. Working does. For a TN1 you need a letter explaining the work you're doing, and you need your university transcipts (not just your degree.) ON PAPER. If they are sending you to work, get your TN1 stuff together for the next trip. It is generally not held against you if you're turned away for not having X and come back later to apply for X properly. It is held against you if you keep going there to work but claiming it's meetings, or if you were denied an X and try to get in without it. –  Kate Gregory Jul 17 at 14:22
    
@KateGregory Agreed (meetings don't require a TN1); convincing them that you're only going for meetings (especially if your trip is >1 week) can be very difficult. –  Jedidja Jul 17 at 14:28
    
That's because it's highly unlikely that it's only meetings if it's more than a week. That's never been the case for me, for example, unless I'm tacking some sightseeing onto a three-days-of-meetings trip. –  Kate Gregory Jul 17 at 14:31
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  1. almost certainly. You're now on all kinds of lists of people who need to be scrutinised.
  2. probably, there's usually an expiration clause on such things as there is on anything (even life sentences to prison in many countries last only for 20-25 years).
  3. possibly, though more likely you won't be able to travel to the US at all for some time and after that things will return to normal
  4. quite likely. It's a black mark on your record that will stay, for considerable time

    You'd best contact a US consulate or embassy and ask to speak to someone with knowledge about immigration issues, they're the ones who should be able to tell or find out.
    And they'll most likely tell you to stay out of the US for x years or things go badly for you.
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-1 "probably", "possibly", "quite likely". It is all speculation. The only valid point is to contact the consulate, but that is more a comment then an answer. –  andra Jul 14 at 14:16
    
Staying out of the US is not an option, unless I want to find a new job, which I'm not going to do. It just need means I'll need to have all the proper documentation in order before crossing. No more honor system for me. I do wish the US would be a bit more lenient on hard working educated professionals. Seems like the wrong type of people to keep out. –  radian Jul 16 at 1:35
    
This response should be deleted. –  Jedidja Jul 17 at 14:29
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