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NAFTA TN Status Eligibility Update

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. As part of this agreement, the TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the U.S. to engage in business activities at a professional level. More specifically, a beneficiary must show that: (1) he or she is a citizen of Canada or Mexico; (2) his or her profession qualifies under the regulations; (3) the position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional; (4) he or she has a prearranged full-time or part-time job with a U.S. employer; and (5) he or she has the qualifications to practice in the profession listed on the application. One such qualifying profession is an economist. For more information on the TN visa, please visit our website.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) just recently released a policy memorandum clarifying guidance on NAFTA TN status eligibility for economists. The memorandum states that to qualify for TN status based on work in the profession of economist, the applicant must engage in activities consistent with the profession. This includes conducting research, preparing reports or formulating plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy. The memorandum then goes on to state that the profession of economist must not primarily include the activity of other occupations, such as those performed by financial analysts, market research analysts and marketing specialists. Just for reference, here is how the Department of Labor defines each occupation:

  • A financial analyst conducts quantitative analyses of information involving investment programs or financial data of public or private institutions;
  • A market research analyst and marketing specialist research conditions in local, regional, national or online markets by gathering information to determine potential sales of a product or service, or plan a marketing or advertising campaign. This may include gathering information on competitors, prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution. This may involve searching marketing tactics, analyzing web metrics, and developing recommendations to increase search engine ranking and visibility to target markets.
  • An economist conducts research, prepares reports or formulates plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy. This may involve collecting and processing economic and statistical data using sampling techniques and econometric methods.

If you are interested in applying for a TN visa, or just have questions about it, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!