TN Visa: Management Consultant


Background of TN Visa Category

The TN visa occupational category for Management Consultants was first listed in the United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1989. See 54 Federal Register 12 (Jan. 3, 1989). The predecessor to NAFTA, the FTA provided work authorization under TC visa status, which was only available to Canadian citizens. The occupational category for Management Consultants was carried over and included in the NAFTA list of available occupations in 1994. See 58 FR 69205 (Dec. 30, 1993).

Long considered the most heavily scrutinized TN category, in its operating procedures U.S. immigration itself has stated that there is a "high rate of denials" for the Management Consultant TN category. USCIS, Standard Operating Procedures, pg. 7 (July 2008).

TN Visa Applicant Requirements

To qualify for TN visa status under the occupational category for Management Consultants, an individual must possess one of the following:
  • Bachelor’s (Baccalaureate) degree;
  • Licenciatura Degree;
  • Five years of experience as a management consultant; or
  • Five years of experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement.
The regulations governing TN visa status generally do not provide any guidance on the type of degrees or majors suitable for a particular TN occupational category. To determine the types of degrees suitable for Management Consultants for purposes of a TN visa, we may refer to U.S. Department of Labor publications such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). See Royal Siam Corp. v. Chertoff, 484 F.3d 139, 145 (1st Cir. 2007).

Read more about the TN visa degree requirements.

TN Visa Job Duties Requirements

The TN visa regulations do not specifically define the types of Management Consultant job duties that are permissible under this TN category. Like the degree requirement, individuals should refer to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) for guidance on the generally accepted job duties for this occupation.

The legacy INS' NAFTA Handbook does provide some additional clarification on the types of duties U.S. immigration finds acceptable for a Management Consultant:
Management Consultants provide services that are directed toward improving the managerial, operating, and economic performance of public and private entities by analyzing and resolving strategic and operating problems and thereby improving the entity’s goals, objectives, policies, strategies, administration, organization, and operation.
USCIS' Employer Information Bulletin also provides some information on the nature of the Management Consultant TN category:
[A Management Consultant's] professional services are expected to be of a temporary, periodic, or fixed consulting nature rather than performed as full-time employment. The duties may be consist of consulting and/or analysis focusing on ways to improve the “sponsoring” entity’s structure, efficiency, profits, etc. Although a management consultant may be a manager, few managers qualify as management consultants.
U.S. immigration has also issued guidance on the types of engagements permissible under the Management Consultant TN category. Consistent with its view of Management Consultants as individuals working on short-term projects, U.S. immigration advises that "Management consultants are usually independent contractors." NAFTA Handbook, pg. 136.

Management consultants may be engaged in a direct employee relationship in only two scenarios. They may be employees of (1) consulting firms under contracts to U.S. entities; or (2) U.S. entities to which they are providing services to if (a) they are not assuming existing positions or filling newly created positions, and (b) are only filling a supernumerary temporary position. NAFTA Handbook, pg. 136.

Read more about TN visa job duties.

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Revised Oct. 8, 2013.