The TN visa category, created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), allows Canadian and Mexican professionals to enter the United States for temporary employment purposes. NAFTA lists 62 qualifying professions (contained in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA) that are able to enter on a TN visa.
A TN visa is a great option for Canadian and Mexican professionals that fall into one of the 62 categories. However, for professionals that do not easily fit into one of the categories or do not have a Bachelor’s Degree or some specific form of certification, training, or licensure, a TN visa can be quite difficult to obtain. 61 out of the 62 professions require either a Bachelor’s Degree or some form of certification, training, or licensure.
The only listed profession that does not have a stringent degree, licensure or certification requirement is the Management Consultant designation. This more relaxed requirement – coupled with the fact that the Management Consultant designation is really the only profession that involves general business administration, business management, business analysis or related fields – makes the Management Consultant designation a very popular and consequently a highly scrutinized professional category for TN visas. The requirements, examples of duties, advantages, and disadvantages of pursuing the Management Consultant designation are discussed below.
Requirement #1: The TN Management Consultant must have a degree or five years of relevant experience
A Canadian or Mexican national may be eligible for the Management Consultant designation if he or she possesses at least one of the following: Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement.
Requirement #2: The TN Management Consultant cannot be filling a regular, full-time position
The TN management consultant guidance specifies that Management Consultant positions should generally not be for aliens filling regular, permanent positions. In effect, this makes it almost impossible for a TN application to be granted if the applicant will be employed as a W-2 employee. The guidance relating to TN management consultants acknowledges that petitioners will, at times, require a TN management consultant as a full-time employee; however in these cases the TN management consultant should be working for a consulting company, and should not be filling an existing position, replacing and employee in an existing position, or filling a newly-created permanent position.
The TN visa regulations do not specifically define the types of Management Consultant job duties that are permissible under this TN category. We can look to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) and the legacy INS’ NAFTA Handbook for guidance on the job duties for this occupation.
According to the OOH, Management Consultants (referred to also as Management Analysts in the OOH) generally advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.
The legacy INS’ NAFTA Handbook describes the general duties of Management Consultants as providing services that are directed toward improving the managerial, operating, and economic performance of public and private entities by analyzing and resolving strategic and operating problems and thereby improving the entity’s goals, objectives, policies, strategies, administration, organization, and operation.
Some examples of specific duties of a TN Management Consultant are as follows:
The duties of the TN Management Consultant need to be tailored specifically to the situation and company’s needs, and the application should include the percentage of time to be spent on each duty.
Additionally as with all TN visas, there are the following considerations:
Notwithstanding the difficulties of obtaining a TN visa under the Management Consultant category, there are still factors that make it the best option for applicants that meet the specific criteria outlined above. The advantages of a TN visa under the Management Consultant are as follows:
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