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I am a car mechanic. Can I come to the U.S. to find work under the TN visa category?

By November 29, 2021Immigration, TN Visa
a car mechanic working under a car

The most important inquiry in determining whether you may avail yourself of the TN visa is whether the description of the job offered, and your credentials, fall within one of the profession categories set out in the NAFTA (Appendix 1603.D.1 to Annex 1603).

There is no specific category that corresponds to automobile mechanics. But, depending on the nature of the job and your credentials, potentially you could characterize your proposed job as an “engineering” position or a “scientific technician” position.

Engineer TN category

If you have an engineering degree of a Bachelors level or above, and can find a job that involves designing, developing, building, and testing automotive vehicles, parts, or systems, you could qualify as a mechanical engineer and be allowed to apply for a TN visa under that category.

Engineers are expected to work in offices, R&D teams, and manufacturing sites, where the engineer develops designs for new products (vehicles or parts), evaluate these designs, identify and remedy problems at the manufacturing sites, and build and test these products.

But, for example, a car mechanic whose duties are limited to diagnosing and fixing customers’ vehicles at an automotive repair shop will likely not be able to fit under the engineer category.

Scientific Technician TN category

If you do not have an engineering degree of a Bachelors level or above, you can still consider if your proposed job and credentials could fall under the Scientific Technician TN category. You can qualify for the Scientific Technician TN category by demonstrating (1) 2 years or more of training in an educational program in a theoretical discipline (agricultural science, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics), and (2) an ability to solve practical problems in that area of theoretical knowledge.

Because this is one of the few categories that do not require a Bachelor’s degree or above, this category is one that is carefully scrutinized by the CBP or consular officer. Therefore, it is very important to verify with an experienced lawyer that both your credentials and the details of the job offered very closely align with the category’s specifications.

For example, a Scientific Technician under the TN category must be coming into the U.S. to work in direct support of a scientific professional in your field, e.g., engineer, biologist, physicist, etc. In our car mechanic example, you must find a job where you would work as an engineering technician directly supporting the work of an automotive engineer, who actually possesses a Bachelors degree or above in engineering and performs engineering duties, including designing, developing, building, and testing automotive vehicles, parts, or systems.

Your specific duties as an engineering technician, for example, would involve monitoring manufacturing processes and quality of products, setup and maintenance of engineering equipment and instruments, troubleshooting production problems, and preparation of technical reports related to the engineering process.

Be sure to consult with a lawyer with ample experience in TN applications  if you are considering applying under these categories.

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