Question: I plan to apply for TN visa status under the scientific technician/technologist category related to biology. I have a degree of "Associate of Applied Science in Biotechnology” plus one year work experience related to the biological lab setting. I was told that I need 3 years experience in order to apply for a scientific technician/technologist TN. Is this true? Can I apply for a TN visa status under the scientific technician/technologist category with one year experience?
Answer: You do not need three years experience to qualify for the Sci/Tech TN visa. The TN visa regulations provide that an applicant for a Sci/Tech TN must satisfy three elements:
1. Possess theoretical knowledge in any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics
2. Possess (a) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines; or (b) the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research.
3. Must work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics. 8 C.F.R. 214.6.
The regulations do not expressly state what credentials an applicant must possess to qualify for a Sci/Tech. A legacy INS memorandum provides further guidance on this issue and states that a Sci/Tech applicant’s “theoretical knowledge should have been acquired through the successful completion of at least two years of training in a relevant education program.” Williams Memo, 2002. Possession of a related associate’s degree should satisfy this element. Evidence of related experience in this case is not a necessity, but can be used to provide further proof of “theoretical knowledge” in addition to establishing either the “ability to solve practical problems” or perform “basic or applied research” in the field.
As indicated by the use of the word “should,” the two year educational requirement for theoretical knowledge is not absolute. Nevertheless, some immigration inspectors maintain that a Sci/Tech must possess two years of educational training. Because this stance is contrary to the language in the Williams Memo, we have had success with Sci/Tech cases where applicants possessed one year or less of educational training, but had more than two years of experience in the field. See Sci/Tech Approvals. But the more an applicant deviates from two-years of educational training, the more resistance he or she may face during CBP's review.