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Canadian TN, HR startdate in California, and SSN dilemma

Specializes in med/surg.


I am a Canadian citizen who has a job offer with California Sutterhealth on Febuarary 14th. I have all my documents ready to get my TN. Unfortunately, the boarder will not issue the work visa unless 5-7 days of the start date. I need the TN visa to apply for my SSN which may take up to 2 weeks. The HR recruiter says she needs my criminal record check (which requires a SSN to process) before the start date... this also takes 1-2 weeks.


1. Cannot get my SSN without my TN

2. Cannot process pre-hire paperwork like criminal record check without SSN

3. Cannot start job without SSN or pre-hire checks

PLEASE HELP! HAS ANYONE ENCOUNTERED THIS PROBLEM??? HR won't change the TN petition letter start date, and doesn't seem cooperative. The only 2 solutions I thought about are 1. They will push back my start date to the next month (orientation only once a month), or they will be nice enough to allow me to start without a SSN (which I doubt).

Edited by C0252786

Wow you're really in a pickle. I'm unsure how long it would take to receive your ss# but did you try showing the border your job offer letter? Since this is an immigration issue I would contact an attorney. Good Luck


Specializes in med/surg.

Yes, I have already gone to the border and they said they issue a TN only within a week of the start date.

Already worked with an immigration lawyer - they can't do anything about customs, and HR won't change the start date for the job offer letter

I think the US are trying to make it harder for foreign workers to get US jobs due to the recession - just my opinion.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care.

I would continue with the steps of applying for the TN Visa using the original offer letter with the original start date, then apply for SSN as soon as you can once you have the visa. The Social Security Administration may be able to give you the number over the phone once it's been assigned to you and in the process of being sent in the mail (their website states that you can do this). Your employer can then use this number to run the background check. By law, the employer needs to see the actual SS Card and the TN Visa as proof of your employment eligibility so they will absolutely not let you start without those documents. You also need to fill out IRS and state income tax forms before or on the first day of employment and the SSN is required in these forms. So in the meantime, I would make sure to communicate with HR regularly to update them on the progress of your paperwork while also giving them a heads-up about a possible delay in your start date if the SS Card does not arrive in time.


Specializes in med/surg.

Thank you so much for your helpful and informative advice, Juan! I will do that. I think she already knows that my start date is going to be delayed again, but hasn't mentioned it. I'm anxious that they will withdrawl their job offer... what do you think from a legal perspective... can and would they do this?

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care.

Withdrawal of a job offer is not illegal and can be exercised by employers if circumstances warrant it (i.e., failing a criminal background check and even sudden financial difficulties on the employer's part). Employers, however, are cautious when they withdraw a job offer because of possible charges of discrimination that the potential employee could use against the employer. It sounds like you have a job offer already and to me, there are no real uncertainties surrounding the possibility of you acquiring employment eligibility. What it is, is just a delay because of technicalities involved in your visa processing and the time frame required in getting an SS card. A reasonable employer should not see this as a negative on your part because (1) it's not your fault and (2) you are just following the normal process required in your particular situation as a Canadian national, one who is allowed by law to work in the US as long as you have the visa.

The impact of the delay in your start date is likely not an issue with HR. They do not have to pay your salary until you start your job so they are not incurring any expenses with this delay. However, it can have an impact on the unit you are hired into. They offered you the job because they obviously have a vacant position for an RN in this unit and whether they could wait another month for you to start or their staffing ratios are hurting so much that they need a new RN to start immediately will be the issue to contend with. I have a feeling that the case is the former -- they could wait another month for you to start but I'm just speculating this based on the assumption that they knew you are Canadian and will require additional pre-employment paperwork. I've had similar issues with my own start dates in my past employments for reasons different than yours and in all the cases, I was told it's OK if I start later than the originally agreed upon start date. Of course, I didn't have the same issues with immigration and this was during a time when the economy was still robust.

You best bet is to talk to the unit manager who hired you. This is the person that picked you among the pool of candidates to join his or her team of RN's. This is also the person who will know how bad they need the new RN to start in the unit. Tell this person your situation and make sure that he or she is still committed to having you on their team. Regardless of what HR says, this person can say that you're the person they want and they are willing to wait until all your papers are in order. And really, it's not like you are waiting for more than 1 month for these documents to come so I think you are not being unreasonable at all.

I will PM you back regarding your other questions.


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