TN-1 Status for Canadian Software Engineers

Appendix 1603 D.1 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) includes the occupation of “Engineer” within the list of professional level occupations. NAFTA lists the minimum qualifications for entry into the United States as a TN-1 Engineer as:

  1. Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; OR
  2. State/provincial license

NAFTA does not provided any further guidance or clarification on who would qualify as a TN-1 Engineer, nor guidance on what the acceptable degrees for entry into the United States as a TN-1 Engineer are (e.g. electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, civil engineer, software engineer, etc.). The vagueness of NAFTA on this point leads to many questions about who in fact is qualified to enter the United States as a TN-1 Engineer under NAFTA. Since the appendix does not provide further clarification on this issue the U.S. Department of Justice (“USDOJ”) addressed this question in a memo issued in the year 2000, stating:

[A]n individual engaged in business activities as a “software engineer” at a professional level that requires a baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree OR state/provincial license may qualify under the profession of “engineer” under the NAFTA.

In the same memo the USDOJ also addressed acceptable minimum education requirements and alternative credentials required for admission under the NAFTA. The memo states:

In addition to “engineer”, Appendix 1603.D.1 lists 60 occupations at the professional level with a corresponding list of educational requirements. If there is an acceptable alternative credential to the educational requirement, it is also listed. The degree should be in the field or in a closely related field.

The USDOJ not only made it clear that software engineers may qualify as “engineers” under the NAFTA, it also addressed the issue of acceptable alternative credentials and education. This allows Canadian professionals other than software engineers the flexibility to work under the NAFTA even if their credentials are not an exact match to those listed under Appendix 1603.D.1. If you are a software engineer, or a Canadian business professional seeking entry under the NAFTA and your credentials are not an exact match to those under Appendix 1603.D.1., we can help. Contact us today for a free assessment of your immigration matter with Mr. Richards.

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