TN Visa: Medical Technologist

Background of TN Visa Category

The TN visa occupational category for Medical Technologists was first listed in the United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1989. See 54 Federal Register 12 (Jan. 3, 1989). The predecessor to NAFTA, the FTA provided work authorization under TC visa status, which was only available to Canadian citizens. The occupational category for Medical Technologists was carried over and included in the NAFTA list of available occupations in 1994. See 58 FR 69205 (Dec. 30, 1993).

TN Visa Applicant Requirements

Initially, under the United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement (the predecessor to NAFTA) an individual could qualify as a Medical Technologist based solely on possession of a bachelor’s degree. 54 FR 48575 (Nov. 24, 1989). In 1990, the U.S. and Canada began to explore alternative credential requirements for the Medical Technologist category. 55 FR 6694 (Feb. 26, 1990). In 1991, the two countries proposed adding a post-secondary diploma with three years’ experience as an alternative acceptable qualification to a bachelor’s degree. 56 FR 11528 (March 19, 1991). This alternative qualification was adopted in July 1992. 57 FR 33272 (July 28, 1992).

The credentials acceptable for eligibility under the Medical Technologist category remained unchanged following the implementation of NAFTA. To qualify for TN visa status under the occupational category for Medical Technologists, an individual must possess one of the following:
  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • Licenciatura Degree.
  • Post-Secondary Diploma and three years of experience.
  • Post Secondary Certificate and three years of experience.
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. To determine the types of degrees suitable for Medical Technologists for purposes of a TN visa, we may refer 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). Read more about the TN visa degree requirements.

Health Care Worker Certificate (Visa Screen) Requirement

Individuals applying for TN visa status under the Medical Technologists category have to obtain a Health Care Worker (Visa Screen) certificate before they are able to obtain TN visa status. See Health Care Worker Certifications.

TN Visa Job Duties Requirements

In 1991, the government clarified the Medical Technologist category by combining it with the “Clinical Lab Technologist” category, which was previously listed separately in the initial United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) regulations. See 54 FR 12 (Jan. 3, 1989). The government made this change because it considered the two categories synonymous. 56 FR 11528 (March 19, 1991). The government also relabeled the category to the joint term “medical laboratory technologist (Canada)/medical technologist (U.S.)” to reflect the use of different terms for the same occupation in Canada and the U.S. Id.

In addition to these changes, the legacy INS added a footnote to this category to elaborate on the duties performed in this occupation stating that individuals “[m]ust perform chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic and bacteriological tests, procedures, experiments, and analyses in laboratories for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.” 56 FR 11528. The government also “noted that other allied medical professions (primarily technicians of various types)” were still under consideration for addition to the FTA. Id.

In 1992, when the legacy INS announced the formal adoption of the above rule proposals, it clarified that the joint category did not “include other allied medical occupations, such as radiologic technologists, respiratory therapists, and nuclear medicine technologists.” 57 FR 33272 (July 28, 1992). Yet, it again noted that “[t]hese occupations [were] being considered separately for inclusion” in the FTA. Id.

At the same time, the government admitted that the duties for the occupation as originally described in its footnote “could be read in an overly restrictive manner.” 57 FR 33272. As such, it revised the footnote to make it “less restrictive” and to indicate that “although the individual should be qualified to perform all duties of a technologist, he or she may not be doing all those duties in a given job situation.” Id. The duties listed in the footnote were modified to state that individuals “[m]ust be seeking entry to perform, in a laboratory, chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic or bacteriological tests and analyses for diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease.” Id.

In 2005, USCIS added in a non-binding memo that Medical Technologists performed “complex biological, chemical, hematological, immunological, microscopic and bacteriological tests for the purpose of diagnosing, preventing, or treatment of disease.” Employer Information Bulletin (March 16, 2005). It also reiterated that the occupation did “not include x-ray, radiological, sonogram, nuclear medical, or dental technicians.”

For additional information on the generally accepted job duties for this occupation, individuals should refer to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH).

Read more about TN visa job duties.



Revised April 10, 2014.