The TN visa applicant in this case was a citizen of Mexico and Switzerland. He possessed a Master’s degree in Management, Technology, and Economics from a European university. He also held a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the same school.
The applicant had a job offer from company “ABC”, which provided photograph printing and album creation services to online users of social networking sites. In the position offered, the applicant would be establishing methods to improve ABC’s production of its printed memorabilia products.
There were several issues in this case to resolve. First, we needed to determine what nonimmigrant visa classification was appropriate. At that time, H-1B visas were no longer available due to the cap (they would not be available again until October 2010). As the applicant was a dual-citizen (Mexican and Swiss), we next looked at the NAFTA TN visa classification.
Evaluating the applicant’s job duties, we concluded that the position was best classified under the TN occupational category for Industrial Engineers based on the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Because ABC’s “storefront” was entirely online, we believed the TN visa application should fully explain that the applicant’s job duties dealt with developing methods to improve ABC’s printing and production of photo books, as opposed to performing IT job duties, in order to make the best case for the Industrial Engineer TN.
Next, we had to assess whether the applicant possessed the credentials for an Industrial Engineer TN visa. The applicant did not possess a specific degree in the field, which although generally not required for TN visas, can be problematic in convincing a U.S. immigration officer that an applicant qualifies under a particular TN category. The applicant would have to show that his Master’s and/or Bachelor’s degree were suitable for an Industrial Engineer TN visa.
The last issue dealt with logistics. The applicant was living in Switzerland and had planned to apply for the TN visa there. We would need to explain to the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland that that the applicant could file for a TN visa there. Since the Swiss Embassy did not handle many TN visas, we would also have to provide more detail than usual in order to fully explain the case for the TN visa.
We assisted ABC in preparing a detailed employer support letter, which described how the position offered fell under the Industrial Engineer occupational category. The letter explained both the online and printing aspects of ABC’s business. It went into extensive detail to emphasize that the applicant’s job functions would not involve IT duties, but dealt primarily with improving the production of ABC’s end-product – its printed photo books. We then prepared a legal brief, which explained how the applicant’s job duties were consistent with those of an Industrial Engineer as described in the OOH. We also procured an expert opinion letter that further confirmed that the position fell under the Industrial Engineer occupational category.
The employer support letter also explained how the applicant’s credentials qualified for a TN visa under the Industrial Engineer category. For example, the letter highlighted language in the applicant’s Master’s degree transcripts, which stated that the school considered the Master’s degree program to cover the same body of knowledge as equivalent courses in Industrial Engineering.
Our brief then provided the legal basis for the applicant’s eligibility for a TN visa as an Industrial Engineer. The brief explained that an individual may obtain a TN visa as an Engineer if he possesses either a Bachelor’s or a state/provincial license. It explained that a specific degree in the field was generally not required, and that reference should be made to the Occupational Outlook Handbook for guidance on the types of degrees suitable for an Engineer position. For example, in contending that the applicant’s Mechanical Engineer degree was suitable for an Industrial Engineer position, the brief pointed to the OOH, which e.g. stated that “…engineers trained in one branch may work in related branches.”
Because the applicant’s degrees were issued from a school located outside of a NAFTA country, we had to obtain an educational evaluation stating that the degrees were the equivalent to degrees issued from a U.S. university. In addition to establishing that the applicant’s degrees were comparable to U.S. degrees, the expert also confirmed that the applicant’s credentials made him well-qualified for a position in industrial engineering.
Last, the brief referenced a Department of State memorandum to establish that citizens of Mexico could apply at U.S. consular sections around the world for a TN visa. See DOS Memo, Revision of NAFTA Professional Procedures (Jan. 2004).
The U.S. Embassy in Switzerland approved the TN visa application under the Industrial Engineer category and issued the TN visa stamp for a one-year period. The Embassy issued only a one-year visa, even though the application requested a three-year TN, because the Department of State had recently adjusted the Mexico Reciprocity Schedule reducing the validity period of TN visas from three-years to one-year. More on TN visa validity period.