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What Critical Infrastructure US Employers Need to Know about Travel Restrictions in the US-Canada Bo

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

What is going on?

The COVID-19 related travel restrictions for the US-Canada land border that were put in place on March 20, 2020 were extended for an additional 30 days, until May 20, 2020.

See the Federal Register Notice published on April 22, 2020:

Dates: These restrictions went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on March 20, 2020 and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 20, 2020

How do these travel restrictions affect US Employers?

Many US Employers are considered essential, critical infrastructure businesses, and they should be aware of the extended travel restrictions limitations and documentation requirements to be able to continue having their essential international workers enter the US to perform their essential functions.

What should US Employers do to ensure they can continue to have their essential international workforce?

For US Employers Needing to Process NEW TNs:

Employers should be aware that they need to send their new TN workers to pre-flight inspection – NOT land borders to process new TN applications. The language of the original travel restriction reads:

“At this time, this Notification does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between the United States and Canada, but does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between the United States and Canada.”

Issues to Consider:

Employers need to make sure their essential TN workers are adequately prepared to go to pre-flight inspection with the proper documentation. If time allows, filing an I-129 Petition with USCIS in the US first, may be advisable, before sending the workers to pre-flight inspection posts with a TN Application packet. For TN applications at pre-flight inspection posts, a flight must be purchased and the worker must have their boarding pass in order to enter. Advance planning and full analysis of the TN job classification, the Employer’s type of business, and the worker’s qualifications is key - to avoid additional costs and delays.

For US Employers Needing to Extend Current TN Status for their Workers:

TN classification and status can be extended without leaving the US, by having the US Employer file an I-129 Petition with USCIS. Many TN Employers and workers have chosen to seek their TN Extensions at the US-Canada border because in the past, this option had been quicker and a little more cost effective; however, with virus related travel restrictions this is no longer the better option for both health and travel restriction reasons. TN Extensions can be filed with USCIS in the US without having the worker leave the country as early as 6 months before the current TN visa expires.

For US Employers Needing to have their TN Workers Travel:

  • The Employer will need to show that the TN worker’s travel is essential.

  • If a TN worker is traveling back and forth from visiting family in Canada, but not specifically traveling for work as identified in issued travel restriction, the travel may likely be restricted because the travel is not essential – even if the Employer’s work in the US is essential.

“Travel through the land ports of entry and ferry terminals along the United States-Canada border shall be limited to “essential travel,” which includes, but is not limited to— · U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States; · Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States); · Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; · Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work); · Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies); · Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada); · Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel; · Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and · Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations. 5 The following travel does not fall within the definition of “essential travel” for purposes of this Notification— · Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events).”

For Training Regarding TN Visa Process: CLICK HERE

Leyla McMullen


NOT LEGAL ADVICE: This article is for educational purposes only, it is not legal advice that may be applicable to our situation

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is general information regarding law and policy that may be applicable to your particular HR issue or legal problem. Information provided in this blog, or any of our other public posts, does not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific advice you can rely upon, please contact your attorney.

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