TN Visa Status as a Scientific Technician or Scientific Technologist ST/T

Qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens can obtain TN visa status to work in the United States as Scientific Technicians and Scientific Technologists under the USMCA (NAFTA). Scientific Technicians and Scientific Technologists are listed as one of the qualifying USMCA professions. We discuss the professions of Scientific Technicians and Scientific Technologists (ST/T) for TN visa purposes and how to qualify here.

What is a Scientific Technician or Scientific Technologist for TN Visa purposes?

Under the Cronin memo, Scientific Technicians and Scientific Technologists are defined as follows for immigration purposes:

Another professional-level occupation that is subject to interpretation is the “Scientific Technician/Technologist. Appendix 1603.D.1 specifies that, for temporary entry under NAFTA,the applicant must possess (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering,forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any ofthose disciplines to basic or applied research.

Is a degree required for TN visa status as a Scientific Technician or Scientific Technologist?

The profession of Scientific Technician or Scientific Technologist is one of the few USMCA (NAFTA) professions that does not require a degree. If you do not possess a degree or post-secondary diploma, you can qualify based on, “ [T]heoretical knowledge in one of those disciplines”. 

How do I qualify for TN Visa status as a Scientific Technician or Scientific Technologist?

Determining your qualifications for TN Visa status as a Scientific Technician or Scientific Technologist is not as straightforward as other TN visa professions. There are several factors outside of education that need to be considered. In fact, a ST/T does not generally need or even have a baccalaureate degree. The following applies to determine your qualifications:

  1. Must work in a qualifying discipline. You must work in one of the following fields: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics.
  2. Must support a qualifying supervisory professional. You must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in one of the above-listed disciplines. The professional must be degreed or licensed in the field.
  3. Duties must be interrelated with the qualifying supervisory professional. Your work must be interrelated with that of the supervisory professional. In other words, your work must be managed, coordinated, and reviewed by the professional supervisor, and must also provide input to the supervisory professional’s own work.
  4. Must meet minimum theoretical knowledge. Your theoretical knowledge should have been acquired through the successful completion of at least two years of training in a relevant educational program. Such training may be documented by the presentation of a diploma, certificate, or transcript accompanied by evidence OR relevant work experience.
  5. Duties must be consistent with the profession under the OOH. US authorities will rely on the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook to establish whether proposed job functions are consistent with those of a scientific or engineering technician or technologist.

I work in the trades. Can I qualify for TN visa status as a Scientific Technician or Scientific Technologist?

The regulations clearly indicate that individuals intending to do work that is normally done by the construction trades (welders, boiler makers, carpenters, electricians, etc.), even where these trades are specialized to a particular industry (e.g., aircraft, power distribution, etc.), DO NOT qualify. Additionally, individuals should not be admitted in TN Visa status as a ST/T to perform job functions that are primarily associated with other job titles.

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