TN Visa: Research Assistant

Background of TN Visa Category

The TN visa occupational category for Research Assistants 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 Research Assistants was carried over and included in the NAFTA list of available occupations in 1994. See 58 FR 69205 (Dec. 30, 1993).

TN Visa Applicant Requirements

To qualify for TN visa status under the occupational category for Research Assistants, an individual must possess one of the following:
  • Bachelor’s degree; or
  • Licenciatura Degree.
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 Research Assistants 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

As stated in the TN visa regulations, the TN visa classification for Research Assistants only permits employment at a post-secondary educational institution. The TN visa regulations do not otherwise define the types of 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.

Read more about TN visa job duties.


TN Visa Articles - Research Assistant


Revised Jan. 3, 2014.