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What is the Scientific Technician/Technologist TN Category?

scientist in the lab

You can apply for a TN visa if you have been offered a job as a Scientific Technician/Technologist from a U.S. Company. While you don’t need a Bachelor’s degree for this TN category, you still need to demonstrate that you acquired the theoretical knowledge by 2 years of training in educational program.

TN visa is a visa that is based on the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.  It allows certain professions (for example lawyers, accountants, graphic designers, researchers, engineers) to easily obtain employment in the U.S.

Do I have to have a degree to qualify under the Scientific Technician/Technologist TN category?

To qualify under the Scientific Technician/Technologist TN category, you will have to show that:

  • You have a theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines
  • agricultural sciences,
  • astronomy,
  • biology,
  • chemistry,
  • engineering,
  • forestry,
  • geology,
  • geophysics,
  • meteorology, or
  • physics

You will generally have to demonstrate that you acquired the theoretical knowledge by 2 years of training in educational program (as evidence by a diploma, certificate, or transcript accompanied by evidence of your work experience in the field).

(b) You have the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research.

Please note that this is one of the very few TN categories that does not require a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree and therefore is also very scrutinized by the CBP/Consular officers.

What will I have to demonstrate if I want to apply under this category?

You should keep the following things in mind if you want to apply under this TN category:

1. You must be coming to the U.S. to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics (e.g. you are assisting an Engineer in the lab to develop a new technology/product).

Please note that the TN Support letter will have to explain how your role will be inter-related with the role of the supervisory professional – your work will have to be managed, coordinated, and reviewed by the professional supervisor, and your work will have to provide input to the supervisor’s own work.

2. CBP officers (or Consular officers if you are a Mexican national) will look at the Department of Labor’s Occupational handbook when determining if your job duties are consistent with those that are usually performed by scientific technician/technologist

For example, these are some normal job duties listed for a Chemical Technician:

  • Monitor chemical processes and test the quality of products to make sure that they meet standards and specifications
  • Set up and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
  • Troubleshoot production problems or malfunctioning instruments
  • Prepare technical reports, graphs, and charts, and give presentations that summarize their result

The CBP Inspector’s Manual states that applicants “should not be admitted to perform job functions that are primarily associated with other job titles.”

Again, because an educational degree is not required for this TN category, many applicants try to apply under this category even if they don’t necessarily qualify and the category is heavily scrutinized by the CBP officers.

If you want to get a TN visa under this TN category, you should consult with an immigration attorney whether you qualify under this category.

You can find out whether you have to be paid a salary on a TN visa when you click here.

You can read more about the TN Employer’s obligations when you click here.

You can find out what documents to bring to the TN interview by clicking here.

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