TN Challenges and Changes

There is a general perception that TN nonimmigrant status is easy to get for Canadians and Mexicans. However, there are plenty of pitfalls applicants and attorneys must avoid. This is especially true in the context of two “tricky” categories of professions.

  1. Computer systems analysis

  2. Management Consultants

1. Computer Systems Analysts

For Canadian or Mexican professionals who want to apply TN as computer systems analysts, they must possess either 1) a Bachelor’s or licenciatura degree; or 2) a post-secondary diploma or certificate and three years of experience. Since the term “computer systems analysts” is ambiguous, broad and vague, the immigration officers often utilize three resources to determine whether Canadian/Mexican applicants qualifies as such:

  1. NAFTA Handbook;

  2. Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL);

  3. Memoranda sent by regional directors to ports of entries.

In addition, the immigration officers will consider two factors when evaluating an applicant’s eligibility as computer systems analysts in the field. The first factor to be considered is whether the prospective job duties are consistent with the job duties generally performed by computer systems analysts in the field. Generally speaking, unlike laypeople’s understanding and perceptions, the tasks of computer systems analysts include anything but “computer programming.” So the bottom line is that computer systems analysts are not computer programmers even though some of them can use computer programming in their jobs. Computer systems analysts often utilizes technical tools such as data modeling, information engineering, mathematical modeling and structured modeling in the areas of business, accounting or financial systems.  The second factor to be considered is whether the applicant holds the necessary degrees and/or experience. Ideally, one needs to have computer science degree. However, OOH lists degrees such as computer science, information science, applied mathematics, engineering, management information systems (MIS) and even an MBA with a concentration in information systems may qualify for TN status. But as a practical matter, officers ALWAYS have the discretion to reject one’s TN’s application due to the fact that the applicant does not possess computer science degree.

2. Management Consultants

Perhaps the most scrutinized type of TN profession by the immigration officers is management consultants. The positive side of this TN profession is that “management consultant” is one of the two only listed occupations under which one may qualify without any formal degree. An applicant seeking to enter the U.S. under “management consultants” position may possess the following education, or in lieu of which, professional experience:

  1. A bachelor’s degree; OR

  2. A Licenciatura degree; OR

  3. Equivalent professional experience as established by statement or profession; OR

  4. Professional credential attesting to five years of experience as a management consultant; OR

  5. Five years of experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement.

Generally, the rule is that management consultants must serve as independent contractors or employees of consulting firms under contracts to U.S. entities. Therefore, the immigration officers often deny applications due to the following reasons:

  1. Applicant is assuming a permanent position within the regular structure of the company, rather than a temporary position as an outsider. (i.e. independent contractor).

  2. Applicant is actually an employee of the sponsoring company.

(Updated 10/10/2012 by AG)

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