TN Visa Status as a Computer Engineer

One of the qualifying professions listed under the USMCA (NAFTA) is Engineer. When the profession list was initially drafted it did not include computer-related engineering professions. On July 24, 2000, the Cronin Memo was issued clarifying that computer-related engineering professionals can qualify for TN visa status as Engineers. We discuss TN Visa status for computer engineering professionals under the USMCA and how to qualify here.

July 24, Cronin Memo Clarifying Qualifications as a Computer Engineer under USCMA(NAFTA)

The Cronin Memo provides clarification on Engineers working in computer relater professions and how they qualify for TN Visa status under the USCMA(NAFTA). The memo provides the following guidance:

Appendix 1603 D.1 to Annex 1603 of theNAFTA includes the occupation of “Engineer” within the list of professional level occupations. The minimum requirement for entry as a NAFTA engineer is a baccalaureate or licentiature degree or a state/provincial license. There is no further delineation of the types of specialty engineering degrees (e.g., civil, mechanical, electrical, etc.) that qualify for TN classification. Since the appendix doesn’t specify certain specialties, the three NAFTA partners interpret this to mean that ALL engineering specialties are included. Accordingly, an individual engaged in business activities as a “software engineer” at a professional level that requires a baccalaureate or licentiatura degreeor state/provincial license may qualify under the profession of “engineer” under the NAFTA. The question is whether the individual possesses the requisite engineering degree or state/provincial license.

What is a Computer Engineer for TN Visa purposes?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH),  there are several computer engineering-related professions, including Electronic Data Interchange System Developer (EDI System Developer), Information Technology Architect (IT Architect), Network and Infrastructure Engineer, Network Engineer, Solutions Architect, Systems Architect, Systems Consultant, and Systems Engineer. The duties vary depending on the field of specialization.

How do I qualify for TN Visa status as a Computer Engineer?

You might qualify for TN Visa status as a computer engineer if you meet the following minimum qualifications:

  1. You are a Canadian or Mexican Citizen (Permanent Residents do NOT qualify);
  2. You have a job offer from a US employer or are servicing a contract with a US client;
  3. You will be performing duties consistent with a Computer Engineering profession under the OOH;
  4. You have a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in computer science/engineering or a closely-related field; OR state/provincial license; and
  5. You can demonstrate that you have non-immigrant intent, in other words, the intent to return to your foreign residence at the end of your temporary employment.

These are just some of the questions you should consider when contemplating applying for TN visa status. With proper preparation and guidance, the TN Visa process can be straightforward. Taken lightly, the TN Visa process can be burdensome and can have long-term immigration consequences.

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