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TN Visa: Education and Experience Requirements

Most TN visa occupations require some form of education such as a bachelor's degree, or a post-secondary diploma (plus 3 years of experience). 


  • Immigration inspectors routinely require a specific degree in the occupational field in order to qualify for TN visa status. This is often contrary to the government's own guidance on the issue.

  • The regulations governing TN visa status generally do not provide any guidance on the type of degrees or majors suitable for a particular TN occupational category. In these cases, we must turn to U.S. immigration memoranda for more information.

  • To qualify for TN visa status under a category that requires the possession of a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree, U.S. immigration memos state that the degree possessed by the TN applicant “should be in the field or in a closely related field.” Cronin, Memo (July 24, 2000).

  • To determine the types of degrees suitable for an occupation for purposes of a TN visa, reference should be made to U.S. Department of Labor publications such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). See Royal Siam Corp. v. Chertoff, 484 F.3d 139, 145 (1st Cir. 2007).

  • When applying for a TN at the U.S. port-of-entry, or for a TN visa stamp at a U.S. consulate, most officers will require that the applicant present his/her original degree(s).


  • Where a TN occupational category requires a Bachelor’s or Licenciatura Degree, an individual may satisfy this requirement by possessing a degree from an educational institution outside of the NAFTA countries (i.e., from a college or university outside the U.S., Canada, or Mexico). Cronin Memo (July 24, 2000).

  • TN applicants who possess a degree from an educational institution outside of the United States, Canada, or Mexico must obtain an academic evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service that specializes in such evaluations. 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (d) (3) (ii).

  • Unlike the H-1B category, an applicant for a TN cannot combine education and experience and obtain a degree equivalency in order to meet the bachelor degree requirements for a TN. See DOS Memo (Jan. 2004) (stating that where a bachelor's degree is required, experience cannot be substituted for the degree).

  • See also In Re X., LIN 01 176 55040 (AAO July 11, 2002) (stating that when a bachelor's degree is required, a combination of education and experience equivalent to a bachelor's degree will not be accepted, and that consideration of a "work equivalency” of a bachelor's degree is not permitted for the TN visa classification).