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I'm planning to switch jobs in the US as a Canadian, so I have to get a new TN visa for that. It's a time-sensitive offer, so I would need to travel to the YVR airport and get the visa there, before returning to the US to start my new job.

Normally pre-COVID, this basically involves buying a round-trip ticket to Vancouver, but I'm not quite sure how things work now with the pre-departure molecular test and all that.

In particular, is there a way to travel (by air) to Canada to stay for a day (or even half-a-day at the airport) without needing to go through the COVID tests/quarantines. And if I do need to get tested before traveling to Canada, is it possible to use the same test result to travel back to the US (without needing to do another test in Canada)?

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    Have you considered doing it at the land border? Or alternately, having your new company file I-129 so you don't have to leave the US?
    – user102008
    Sep 27 at 21:11
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    In that case, the Mexican land border is pretty close. Alternately, you could fly to Seattle and drive to the Peace Arch.
    – user102008
    Sep 27 at 21:43
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    @user102008 the Mexican border is obviously a good option in normal times, but will a Canadian citizen who doesn't actually hold any visa whatsoever be allowed to cross into the US? As I know you are aware, most Canadians in TN status don't actually have a visa; when they speak of getting "a new visa" at the border or at a preclearance facility, they actually mean getting "a new period of admission" or perhaps "a new I-94 form." (Of course, I-94 forms are often no more than database records these days.)
    – phoog
    Sep 28 at 12:03
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    @phoog: Are you talking about entry into Mexico or into the US? For entry into Mexico, there doesn't seem to be any official restriction. For entry into the US, they can enter by land or air since they are entering for work (which is essential travel). It doesn't matter whether they have a visa or not. As a Canadian citizen, they are eligible to seek entry into most types of nonimmigrant status without a visa, no matter at what border.
    – user102008
    Sep 28 at 17:11
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    @PeaBrane: It says "Individuals traveling to work in the United States". There is no requirement that you are commuting.
    – user102008
    Sep 29 at 21:06
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Just to answer my question.

I decided to go through the CBP at the Vancouver International Airport in the end. The process was fairly smooth, and took less than 30 minutes, mostly consisting of me waiting.

Regarding covid-testing logistics, I got a PCR test at a CVS location in the US, and used the same negative test result for both the departing and returning flight. Note that the returning flight has to be within 3 days of the test as required by CDC.

For me, the most troublesome part wasn't even crossing the borders but rather trying to get the electronic BC vaccine card

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