New OOH Released

The U.S. Department of Labor has published a new version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). The OOH is the principal source immigration officers look to when analyzing whether a position falls under one of the TN visa occupational categories, or if an applicant possesses appropriate credentials for an occupation.

It does not appear that major substantive changes were made in the OOH to job descriptions or educational requirements. The updates instead focus on including more employment statistics and projections. This type of data tends to not play a major role in TN visa adjudications.  

TN Visa I-129 Petitions Backlogged

According to USCIS' most recently published processing times for the Vermont Service Center (VSC), the VSC is taking longer than normal in its adjudication of I-129 petitions requesting TN visa status. (The VSC has sole jurisdiction for adjudicating I-129 petitions requesting TN visa status.) As of the date of its most recently published report (Oct. 31, 2015), the VSC was working on TN petitions filed on June 15, 2015, which suggests it is taking almost 6 months to adjudicate these petitions. The VSC normally lists its processing times for I-129 petitions seeking TN status as 2 months.

Individuals with pending I-129 petitions who require approval of their petition in order to travel or renew their driver’s license can consider upgrading their petition to premium processing. This results in a decision within 15 days, but requires an additional $1225.00 filing fee. In emergency situations, individuals can also withdraw a pending I-129 petition and apply for new TN work authorization at the border (Canadian citizens) or at the U.S. consulate (Mexican citizens).

SciTech TN Visa Approval – User Interface Design Web/Mobile Applications

TN VisaCase Info.
Background:The applicant, a citizen of Canada, was offered a position as a user interface designer. We reviewed the position offered and the applicant’s credentials. Based on its job duties, we believed the position could be classified under the Scientific Technician – Engineering TN category. Although he did not possess a degree or diploma, we believed the applicant had sufficient experience in the field to warrant approval. This was the individual’s first TN visa application.
TN Category:Scientific Technician – Engineering
Job title / duties:The duties involved the design, development, and implementation of user interface designs that would enhance the use of the petitioner’s web and mobile applications.

As with most Scientific Technician applications, 2 main challenges were (1) showing that the job fell within this occupational category; and (2) evidencing that the applicant was working in support of a professional in the field.

IT positions can be challenging for a TN particularly for a Scientific Technician application. (IT roles may be considered atypical for a SciTech.) Here it was critical to explain in the application that since Engineering was a discipline that a Scientific Technician may work in, and that Software Engineering was a recognized engineering discipline for TN purposes, then an individual may perform software engineering duties under the Scientific Technician TN category. We then had to establish that the applicant’s duties were consistent with an Engineering Technician working within the software engineering discipline, which we did with research from a variety of sources.

We also included a statement from the applicant’s supervisor along with a copy of his Computer Science degree to establish that the applicant was working in support of a professional in the software engineering discipline.
Education:The regulations do not require a degree or diploma for eligibility under the Scientific Technician category. U.S. immigration guidelines state that applicants should have at least 2 years of training in the field. Many CBP offices differ on the nature of this requirement: some hold that a diploma is required to evidence this training, while others may accept a combination of education and/or experience.

As this applicant did not possess any degrees or diplomas, it was critical that we evidenced his prior work experience in the field. This was achieved by securing letters from the applicant’s prior employers that detailed his experience performing duties similar to the proposed position.
Filing Process:TN visa status application @ USCBP - Buffalo, NY POE
Processing time:Approved same day filed
Approval period:3 years