Question: I currently work as a career counselor in Canada. I have being trying to ascertain whether I am able to apply for a TN visa under the Vocational Counselor category.
From the limited research I have conducted it appears to be a grey area. Vocational can mean vocational rehabilitation. It can also mean career advice and counseling. Any suggestions as to how I can clarify this issue?
Reply: The NAFTA TN regulations do not provide any guidance on the types of positions eligible for TN status under the Vocational Counselor TN category.
Under its general entry for Counselors, the Occupational Outlook Handbook (“OOH”), a U.S. Department of Labor publication used as a reference for immigration applications, provides the following definition for Vocational Counselors:
Vocational counselors, also called employment or career counselors, provide mainly career counseling outside the school setting. Their chief focus is helping individuals with career decisions. Vocational counselors explore and evaluate the client’s education, training, work history, interests, skills, and personality traits. They may arrange for aptitude and achievement tests to help the client make career decisions. They also work with individuals to develop their job-search skills and assist clients in locating and applying for jobs. In addition, career counselors provide support to people experiencing job loss, job stress, or other career transition issues.
Based on the OOH, a career counselor position should be eligible for TN status under the TN category for Vocational Counselors. Whether vocational rehabilitation counselors also fall under this TN category is the true grey area.
We may contend that all types of vocational counselors are included under the Vocational Counselor TN category. This would conform to what the legacy INS has stated about the TN category for Engineers, i.e., that all engineering specialties are included.
Vocational rehabilitation counselors are engaged in vocational, i.e., employment counseling. The difference is that they counsel individuals with disabilities. While this may require additional job duties than those performed by a career counselor, the principle goal of a vocational rehabilitation counselors is vocational, i.e. to assist clients in locating and obtaining employment.