TN Visa Management Consultant

The Management Consultant profession is one of the most scrutinized professions under the USMCA (NAFTA) professions list. It is important that you understand how a management consultant is as defined under the USMCA and whether or not you qualify before attempting to obtain TN Visa status as a management consultant. We review the TN profession of Management Consultant, the requirements, and who qualifies here.

How is a management consultant defined for TN visa status?

The USMCA defines a management consultant as:

Management consultants provide services that are directed toward improving the managerial, operating, and economic performance of public and private entities by analyzing and resolving strategic and operating problems and thereby improving the entity’s goals, objectives, policies, strategies, administration, organization, and operation. Management consultants are usually independent contractors or employees of consulting firms under contracts to U.S. entities. They may be salaried employees of the U.S. entities to which they are providing services only when they are not assuming existing positions or filling newly created positions. As salaried employees of such a U.S. entity, they may only fill supernumerary temporary positions. On the other hand, if the employer is a U.S. management consulting firm, the employee may be coming temporarily to fill a permanent position. Canadian or Mexican citizens may qualify as management consultants by holding a Baccalaureate.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) defines the role of a management analyst, often called a management consultant. According to the OOH, they typically do the following:

  • Recommend ways to improve an organization’s efficiency.
  • They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.
  • Gather and organize information about the problems to be solved or the procedures to be improved
  • Interview personnel and conduct onsite observations to determine the methods, equipment, and personnel that will be needed
  • Analyze financial and other data, including revenue, expenditure, and employment reports
  • Develop solutions or alternative practices
  • Recommend new systems, procedures, or organizational changes
  • Make recommendations to management through presentations or written reports
  • Confer with managers to ensure changes are working

By definition, a Management Consultant doesn’t manage employees at the client site or have a permanent role within the client organization. They provide recommendations for improvements/changes to the upper-level management team at the client site who will then assign internal employees to make changes within the organization. A consultant does not have hands-on duties at the client site, report to anyone at the client site, and has a temporary consulting role that will terminate at the end of the consulting agreement.

What is a typical role for a management consultant?

There are a few different consulting arrangements that fit within the definition of a management consultant for TN visa status. Qualifying roles are typically defined by the business relationship between the consultant and the client/company. The most common relationships for TN Visa status as a management consultant include:

  • An employee of a Canadian Consulting Company – You are an employee of a Canadian entity that provides consulting services under contract to US entities. This same scenario applies to self-employed Canadian consultant’s services contracts with their US clients. Self-employed consultants often have a Canadian entity through which they do business.
  • An employee of a US Consulting Company – You have an offer for a temporary position as a management consultant for a US consulting company. In this scenario, you would typically work for the US entity while providing consulting services to their end clients.
  • Direct Consulting – You have been offered a position to provide consulting services directly to a US client.  Such roles cannot be managerial in nature and are typically short-term. Management consultants are not managers and do not hold a permanent role within an organization.
  • Supernumerary Temporary Position – You have been offered a supernumerary temporary position as a salaried employee for a US entity. A supernumerary position meets a short-term need within a company while not filing an empty position at the company or creating a new role within the company. In other words, you are not replacing anyone and no one will replace you when you complete your temporary consulting services. This type of relationship can be very problematic as it is often the most abused by those that will actually be holding a managerial role within a company. Management consultants are not managers and do not hold a permanent role within an organization.

What do they look for in a management consultant for TN visa status?

The reviewing officer will determine if the role that you are expected to perform falls under the limitations of a Management Consultant as defined by the USMCA (NAFTA). They will take several factors into account including:

  • Are the services provided of a temporary advisory nature? Typically providing reports and recommendations directly to the executive or management team. The executive or management team would then assign internal departments or employees to implement the recommendations provided.
  • Has a specific business need been identified that you will be expected to resolve or improve? It is important to identify what the specific issues or needs are and how the consulting services are expected to address the identified needs.
  • Has it been identified how the consulting services provided will result in specific improvements to the entity? Including but not limited to: reduced costs, increased revenues, increased efficiencies, improved performance, or improved operations.
  • Has the temporary need for a consultant been identified? It must be clear that the consulting services provided are for a temporary short-term need and that at the end of the consulting agreement the need for the consultant will end as the consulting services have resolved, identified, improved, or solved a need for the client.
How do I qualify as a management consultant under the USMCA (NAFTA)?

You can meet the qualifications of a management consultant for TN Visa status under the USMCA in three (3) ways:

  • You have a Baccalaureate Licenciatura Degree in a field directly related to a consulting agreement, OR
  • You have at least five (5) years of experience in a specialty field directly related to a consulting agreement, OR
  • You have five (5) years of experience as a management consultant in a field directly related to a consulting agreement.

How do I prove my qualifying experience?

A resume is considered self-serving and is not sufficient evidence of experience. Experience must be supported by other evidence substantiating the experience. Evidence of experience can be:

  • Letters from previous clients or employers attesting to experience in the field
  • If self-employed, business records that support at least 5 years of experience in the field or as a consultant
  • Other comparable evidence to support at least 5 years of qualifying experience

If relying solely on experience, your proof must meet at least five (5) years. Anything less will result in a refusal or denial. The letter must be specific and clearly indicate the experience gained directly related to the consulting agreement. Confirmation of employment letters are not sufficient.

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