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TN Visas in the Graphic Design Job Category: A Job Description in an Ever-Broadening Category of Employment

By July 6, 2017March 11th, 2021Immigration, TN Visa

Scott Legal has increasingly been filing TN visas for Canadian and Mexican NAFTA professionals seeking entry into the U.S. in the Graphic Designer occupation category.  We recently processed one TN visa for an applicant that worked at a company that manufactured rugs.  At first glance this would seem like it would present a challenge, as the everyday operative description of what constitutes Graphic Design work is different from what could be argued as the “subject to interpretation” graphic designer job description put out by the department of labor.  Where graphic designers in the past may have been thought to just work on computer logos and design pictures (the narrow interpretation), this view has not kept pace with the real-world expansion of this job category in the internet age.  The literature published by the Department of Labor that defines what they believe a graphic designer does (which is what a TN adjudicator would use) has a description of what constitutes Graphic Design work and this actually works very well for the TN visa category.  Some factors listed include:  All sorts of contemporary digital product design, use of digital illustration, photo editing software and layout software to create design, create visual elements such as logos, create original images and illustrations to help deliver a desired message, design layouts and select colors  design images and typefaces to use, present design concepts to clients or art directors, conduct meeting with clients to determine the scope of a project, and presenting design concepts to clients. While the foundation for the new age of technology fits within the existing graphic design job description, it does get difficult, however, to reconcile and explain to an adjudicating officer the very new and cutting-edge design jobs in the tech and computer interface industry with this somewhat antiquated notion of what a Graphic Designer does.

We have devised a few approaches to help bridge the gap between the old Graphic Design notion and the real-world’s expansive list of design-centric jobs incorporating Graphic Design elements.  (Textile design, Graphic reporting function, Clothing design, rug manufacturing and design and more).

Firstly, make the job description as easily understandable to the layperson as possible.  Much of the design work connected to web pages, mobile devices, and digital content in general uses highly esoteric, industry specific language.  An examiner probably has no idea what digital touchpoints are, so it does very little good to reference them as being central to the design assignments.  Try to break it down into simple terms that anyone could understand.

Secondly, develop a clear understanding of the step-by-step process involved.  At what stage does the research and user tests stop and the conceptualizing begin?  Who is involved at each phase of the design process?  How do the software engineers actually use what this designer produces?  Which portion of the process is the most computer-intensive for the designer?

Thirdly, accentuate the technical aspects of the job and the dependence on computer software for the generation of graphic elements.  This may sound obvious, but it is always helpful to underscore how software-program dependent design work has become.

Finally, include examples of the sort of design work that is produced.  We find this to be extremely helpful in transmitting to the examiner the true graphic design nature of what might not immediately sound like a graphic design position (Digital Product Design?).  When the examiner is presented with a visual representation that is clearly produced using a computer program and obviously utilizes the skills contained in the Department of Labor Handbook, it is difficult to make an error in the assessment.

We have processed a number of TN visas using this approach and success requires careful planning and a carefully drafted TN letter.

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