Question: I have a job offer for a company in the U.S. I am Canadian and I am hoping to go the route of obtaining a TN Visa for a two year term. I am getting mixed information about the process. I have a 2 year Diploma as an Occupational/Physiotherapy Assistant. From my understanding an assistant does not fall under NAFTA TN Visa job regulations. Is this correct? Are there any other options?
Reply: If the position offered is more aligned with an Occupational Therapist Assistant or Aide position as described in the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), then it may not be classifiable under the TN visa category for Occupational Therapists, which is described separately in the OOH.
The most popular alternative to the TN visa classification is the H-1B visa. However, this visa classification is generally reserved for those occupations that require possession of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. According to the OOH, Occupational Therapist Assistant positions only require an associate’s degree. The government may, therefore, not consider this occupation as eligible for an H-1B visa.
Unfortunately, there are very few options for foreign citizens who do not possess a bachelor’s degree. U.S. immigration is partial to highly-skilled workers and in this sense most non-immigrant visa classifications available exist primarily for bachelor degree level positions. The TN visa classification does have some exceptions, e.g. the Management Consultant or the SciTech, and others that only require a 2 year diploma and 3 years experience such as the Graphic Designer. Other visa classifications exist for non-bachelor degree positions, but these are generally limited to seasonal work (H-2A/H2B), exchange visitors (J-1), students (F-1/M-1), or trainees (H-3).