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TN – Economist

The TN category allows Canadians and Mexicans to secure status to enter the United States to work and live if they are entering for the primary purpose of engaging in employment as a qualified professional. To qualify as a TN professional one must fit into one of the professions listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is expected to have the same index as NAFTA for professionals.

One profession in particular that has plagued applicants for a long time is that of economist. Inconsistent adjudications and a lack of guidance created a lot of confusion as to what exactly is required to qualify as an economist. For years, the only information that applicants had was that the category required a baccalaureate or licenciatura degree. Beyond that, there was not much guidance.

Policy Memorandum issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in November 2017, found here: (https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/2017/2017-1120-PM-602-0153_-TN-Economists.pdf), clarified who is eligible to be a TN economist.

The memo explains that in order for an applicant to qualify as an economist, the applicant must engage in activities consistent with the profession of economist.

“Economists generally specialize in either microeconomics (analyzing the behavior of individuals and firms with the aim of understanding the relationships between supply and demand) or macroeconomics (analyzing aggregated indicators to determine how different sectors of the economy relate to each other).” Furthermore, their duties typically include conducting research, preparing reports, formulating plans to address economic issues, collecting and processing data using sampling techniques and economic methods.

The most informative part of the memorandum is certainly the part that dictates who cannot qualify as an economist. The category of economist is not meant for financial analysts, market research analysts, and marketing specialists. The memo is clear that those professions do not qualify as economists and it will be the primary activity, not the job title, that will determine if an applicant is in fact an economist.

The big hit here is to financial analysts who for years were entering the U.S. as economists. Financial analysts now need to look to other visa options (Ex: L-1, H-1B…) to secure status. The difference between a financial analyst and an economist can be difficult to discern and applicants should contact an immigration attorney to inquire as to eligibility.