The following is the legacy INS headquarters’ response to the American Immigration Lawyer Association's liaison question on employer job titles and eligibility for TN visa status.
AILA Question: TN Eligibility. AILA members have reported that INS inspectors at the Canadian border are requiring that the TN support letter submitted by prospective employers must use the job title from the list of occupations set forth in Annex 1603.D, Chapter 16 of NAFTA in order to establish TN eligibility. Many employers do not use job titles that exactly match the Annex, but the individual is functionally employed in a listed occupation.
For example, someone performing the functions of a Systems Analyst may have a different job title, e.g. Member of Technical Staff. We believe the duties to be performed should be what is considered and take precedence over the job title. What is Headquarters’ position on this issue?
INS Response: The Service’s position is that the title of a position is not dispositive as to whether the applicant will be engaged in activities at a professional level in an occupation that is on the list of TN professions. Officers carefully review the job duties themselves to ascertain whether the proffered position is on the list of TN professions. It would be useful to the Service to receive the specific locations with which there has been concern regarding this issue.
However, it should be noted that job titles can be a factor because it is not unknown for employers to use job titles to conceal the actual job duties to be performed. For instance, in the example given by AILA, a “Member of Technical Staff” could mean anything from a Systems Analyst to a staffer that does the typing.
The Service, therefore, strongly urges employers to be very specific as to the duties to be performed by the applicant when describing the activities to be performed by the applicant.
From AILA - INS HQ Liaison (March 19, 1998).