ATN visa is designed to allow certain professionals from Canada and Mexico – NAFTA professionals, to work in the United States.

This article will explain how Engineers from Canada and Mexico can apply for TN nonimmigrant visas.

The complete list of NAFTA professions you can find here.

Citizens of Canada and Mexico can apply for a TN visa and work in the United States for up to three years, with a possibility of extension, under The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). One of the professions suitable to engage TN nonimmigrants in business activities is engineering.

Engineering divides into many specialties, such as electrical, software, agricultural, environmental, etc. Each of these specialties has its job duties and degree requirements, which has brought a more restrictive approach when deciding if the TN visa application will be approved. It is recommended to consult the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) to determine a particular engineering specialty’s job duties.

To be qualified to obtain a TN visa as an engineer, the nonimmigrant has to earn and prove one of the following:

  1. Bachelor’s (Baccalaureate) degree or Licenciatura Degree;
    A degree always has to be in the field or firmly related to engineering.
  2. State or provincial license.
    State or provincial licenses are permits for being engaged in a regulated activity or profession. Those permits are issued by a state, provincial or federal government or under its authority, with a local government exception.

Additional requirements that TN nonimmigrants have to submit are:

  1. Proof of Mexican or Canadian citizenship;
  2. A proof of the job offer written as the employer’s letter of support, with all job details;
  3. A proof that a nonimmigrant does not intend to stay in the U.S. after the TN visa expires.

How to seek admission as a TN nonimmigrant?

Canadian citizens can apply with all required documentation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the U.S. Port of Entry since they are not required to obtain a visa first. It is also possible to apply at a pre-flight inspection or an airport after arriving in the United States.

On the other hand, Mexican citizens should apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. After the TN visa is approved, they can seek admission at the U.S. Port of Entry.

Both Canadian and Mexican citizens can file the online I-129 petition with USCIS.

What are the common issues?

TN visa application process can be complicated due to the large number and expansion of engineer specialties. Going beyond traditional frames of engineering, in theory, lead to an interpretation that all these specialties are covered under the engineering category. In practice, the biggest challenge arises when recognizing the new positions since not all the officers are willing to accept them. Moreover, to prove that those occupations fall under the NAFTA category and that all educational requirements are fulfilled is completely transferred onto a petitioner as a burden.

Software engineers fall under the engineering category in the Cronin memo, which was written in 2000. But when it comes to the degree type, officers often have an attitude that if a person wants to get a computer-related engineering job, he/she has to have a credential as a computer or software engineer. This credential has to be issued by an institution authorized for engineering licensing. This interpretation is contrary to the OOH, where it is stated that a necessary degree can also be in computer science or mathematics. A petitioner has to file additional documents which will prove required qualifications in a situation like this.

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