Question: I am a Canadian citizen holding a J1 visa currently working at a Film School. I've been offered a teaching position and hope to remain in the U.S. once my J1 visa expires. I have a Bachelors Degree in the Arts and Social Sciences and I wanted to know if I could apply for a TN visa as a teacher.
Answer: There are only three types of teaching positions available under the NAFTA TN visa classification. You may apply for a TN visa to teach at a college, seminary or university. If the Film School is part of one these educational institutions, then the teaching position may be eligible for a TN visa.
The next step is to examine whether you possess the educational credentials suitable for a TN visa under the Teacher category. The NAFTA TN visa regulations require that a Teacher possess either a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree. You have a bachelor’s degree, but the question is whether your degree is suitable for this teaching position under NAFTA. To answer this question we consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a Department of Labor publication used by U.S. immigration officials to determine the requirements of an occupational category.
According to the OOH entry for Teachers—Postsecondary, the “[e]ducational qualifications for postsecondary teacher jobs range from expertise in a particular field to a Ph.D, depending on the subject being taught and the type of educational institution.” The OOH does not provide any further guidance on the degree requirements for a teaching position at a Film School. But based on this minimum guidance, you may be able to make an argument for eligibility by showing how your degree establishes your qualifications to teach at a Film School, e.g., did you complete substantial coursework in Film studies. You may also be able to use your recent J-1 training at the Film School to bolster your argument. I would also consult alternative sources to support your argument that your degree is suitable for a teacher at a Film School.
Side Note: Although the OOH states that colleges and universities usually consider doctoral degree holders or master’s degree holders for postsecondary teaching positions, this is not a requirement under the NAFTA TN visa classification. All that is required for a teaching position under the TN visa category is a related bachelor’s degree.