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Can I qualify for a TN visa based on work experience?

By January 25, 2024TN Visa
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The TN visa is a great U.S. work visa option for Mexican and Canadian nationals. TN stands for Trade National Visa and the TN Visa was established as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, United States and Mexico. The Agreement was renegotiated in 2019 and is now called the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), however the immigration requirements did not change.
The TN visa requirements are very simple in comparison to some other U.S. work visas. To qualify for a TN Visa you must have an offer of employment from a U.S. company to work in a profession that is listed on the USMCA occupation list and you must have the relevant qualification that is outlined on this occupation list. For many of the categories, such as Economist or Social Worker, you must have a relevant Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree. You can also potentially qualify with a state or provincial license that allows you to engage in the relevant profession. This state or provincial license can be issued by the state, provincial, or federal government, but cannot be a license issued by a local government.

What if I do not have a degree?

In very limited categories, such as Management Consultant, you can qualify with a relevant degree or with experience. For some categories, such as Graphic Designer, it is possible to qualify based on a combination of a post-secondary diploma or certificate and 3 years of work experience in the industry. It is important to confirm that your diploma or certificate meets the definition in the immigration regulations, as not all diplomas or certificates will qualify. A post-secondary diploma refers to a diploma that is issued after you complete a program that is two years or longer at an accredited educational institution in the U.S. or Canada. A post-secondary certificate refers to a certificate that is issued after you complete a program that is two years or longer at an academic institution recognized by the Federal government of Mexico or a state government of Mexico.

Can I qualify based on an evaluation that my work experience is equivalent to the required degree?

Unfortunately, if the TN category specifically requires a degree the answer is no. For some visa types, such as the H1B, you can qualify for the visa if you have your work experience evaluated as equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree. However, for the TN visa, when the occupation list has a specific degree requirement, you cannot use work experience or a combination of education and experience to qualify for the visa.

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