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).
BACHELOR/ LICENCIATURA DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
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).
DEGREE EVALUATIONS / EQUIVALENCIES
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).