Lang Wallace LLC Blog

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TN Scientific Technician case approved for three years in Toronto for Canadian software engineering technician with no post secondary education!

We recently were successful in helping a Florida based platform development company secure the services of a software engineering technician with no post-secondary (high school) education, through the NAFTA TN Scientific Technician/Technologist temporary worker classification.

This is significant because while a scientific technician/technologist is theoretically not required to have post secondary education, in practice, it is not unusual for applicants without a two-year associates degree to be refused by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

To qualify for TN status under NAFTA as a Scientific Technician/Technologist an applicant must prove two elements:

(a) Theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics; and

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

Additionally, the business person in this category must work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology, or physics.

Further, government policy memorandum dated in November 2002 provides additional guidance to immigration officers who are evaluating the qualifications of applicants under the TN Scientific Technician/Technologist category. This memo established five key principles used to evaluate the admissibility. A copy of the memo is embedded below for your reference.

One of these principles addresses the applicant’s qualifications, specifically, how the requisite theoretical knowledge should be acquired. The memo states the theoretical knowledge should have been acquired through the successful completion of at least two years of training in a relevant educational program; and that such training may be documented by presentation of a diploma, a certificate, or a transcript accompanied by evidence of relevant work experience.

Notably, there is no language in the regulations or the policy memo which requires the applicant to possess formal education. Rather, there is a suggestion in the policy memo that the applicant's theoretical knowledge should come from at least two years of education. Unfortunately, as noted above, the more an applicant deviates from two years of educational training, the more resistance he or she is likely to encounter during CBP's review.

In anticipation of this issue, we helped our client carefully document his more than five years of experience, which included the design, development, troubleshooting and support of multi-platform software systems and applications. We also armed him with a copy of the memo and a legal brief, to help ensure CBP understood that while two years of education is suggested, it is not required.

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