Can I obtain TN Status for a Position Involving Balanced Scorecard Measure development and reporting?

Question: I possess a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA. I have a job offer to work for a financial services company specializing in audit, tax, and transaction advisory services. In this position, I would develop Balanced Scorecard (“BSC”) measures, determine BSC objectives and measures, and assist with data collection and BSC reporting. I have several years experience working with BSC measures. Will I qualify for a TN?

Answer: There are two issues to address in this question. First, does this job offer fall under one of the TN occupational categories provided under NAFTA? Second, if the position falls under a TN category, does this individual qualify for that particular TN occupational category?

This job offer does not clearly fall under one of the TN occupational categories. In fact, a further look at the work involved in developing a balanced scorecard reveals the job is more of a hybrid position. The Balanced Scorecard is a strategic management system designed to capture an organization’s strategy and is utilized to give managers a comprehensive view of the performance of a business. The BSC is a combination of financial and non-financial performance measures. This system of measures consists of four categories: financial performance; customer relations; internal business; and learning and growth. See G. Joseph & A. George, Merging Management Accounting with Database Design, Management Accounting Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 2, 36-37 (Winter 2005).

Based on this description, I would consider the Accountant TN category (Management Accountant) as the closest fit for this job. There is no express support in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (“OOH”) for the premise that Accountants engage in balanced scorecard measurement development and analysis. There are, however, abundant secondary sources providing that the role of accountants is expanding and that balanced scorecard measurement has become an emerging tool in accounting. Because this expanded role is relatively new and not specifically addressed in the OOH, a case presented for a TN as an Accountant based on balanced scorecard measurement duties would receive some resistance. I would want to know the extent the job duties would involve accounting and/or financial analysis duties as opposed to non-financial analysis.

The second issue is whether the individual could qualify for a TN as an Accountant. The bachelor’s degree in engineering will be of little help. The related experience, while helpful in the “real world,” would not be considered at the border. Experience alone does not qualify an applicant for a TN as an Accountant. This individual would have to rely on his or her MBA for admission as a TN. The OOH provides that an Accountant should posses a bachelor’s degree in Accounting or a related field. Companies also prefer an MBA with a concentration in accounting. The issue of qualification would therefore hinge on whether the individual’s MBA program involved a concentration in accounting or the extent the individual has completed accounting courses.

Based on the above, this case does not present itself as a strong candidate for a TN. The OOH does not expressly provide that Accountants perform balanced scorecard measurement, but an argument can be made based on secondary materials. A properly supported application may be able to make the case that this line of work falls under the Accountant category. Whether I would take this case to the border would more likely depend on the relevancy of the MBA to the accounting field. The more related, the more inclined I would be to go forward.

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