The client in this case had a job opportunity to provide short-term computer system and IT training seminars at a U.S. company’s IT training facilities. Specifically, the client would be responsible for providing training seminars to the U.S. company’s clients with respect to best practices for the configuration, tuning and troubleshooting of Oracle enterprise software and systems. The client possessed a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and over 20 years of professional experience in computer systems and information technology.
TN Visa Classification & Potential Issues
Based on the position offered, we classified the client’s case under the Computer Systems Analyst TN visa category. Two aspects of this case could have led to problems at the border: First, while NAFTA does permit the conducting of training seminars as a permissible business activity under the TN visa classification, it is not used frequently and many CBP officers are unaware of the provision. Second, the client possessed a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and many inspectors incorrectly believe that an individual may qualify for a Computer Systems Analyst TN based only on possession of a degree in Computer Science.
In order to overcome these two issues, we prepared a detailed attorney brief outlining the applicable regulation and administrative guidance and provided supporting documentation.
Establishing that the Position Qualified for TN Visa Status
The brief outlined the TN visa regulations, which state that an individual may obtain TN status to “perform training functions relating to the profession, including conducting training seminars.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (c). The brief also cited the NAFTA Handbook, which adds that an individual may perform training functions “relating to any of the cited occupations” in the NAFTA Appendix provided that the individual is performing prearranged activities for a U.S. entity and the subject matter is at a professional level. NAFTA Handbook, pg. 135 (Nov. 1999). The brief then explained and documented how the client’s engagement involved performing training functions in a subject matter at a professional level in one of the occupations listed in the NAFTA Appendix (Computer Systems Analyst).
Establishing that the Client Qualified for TN Visa Status
The brief then explained how the client satisfied the educational standards for TN visa status as a Computer Systems Analyst as required in 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (c) based on his possession of a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. The brief first referenced the TN visa regulations, which do not state that a specific degree in the occupational category is required for TN status as a Computer Systems Analyst. The brief then cited an INS Memorandum, which stated that the Hotel Manager is the only TN category that requires a specific degree under NAFTA and that for the remaining categories “[t]he degree should be in the field or in a closely related field.”
We then added further support to our argument by referencing the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which specifically stated that an individual may qualify for a Computer Systems Analyst position based on a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. We submitted additional Department of Labor and industry related publications confirming that an Electrical Engineering degree was a suitable degree for a Computer Systems Analyst. Last, we referenced several U.S. Department of Homeland Security Administrative Appeals Unit decisions, which found that individuals who possessed a degree in Electrical Engineering qualified for computer systems analyst positions.
The client submitted his application and the supporting documentation we prepared for him at a pre-flight inspection office in Canada. The client received approval of his TN visa application for a 3 year period without complications.