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Information About Getting a TN Visa as an Economist

Nafta TN Visa as an Economist

The TN Visa is one of the most popular immigration pathways for Canadians and Mexicans to move to the US for work.

The TN Visa is based on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that created special economic relationships between the US, Canada, and Mexico. The TN visa makes it easy for qualified Canadians and Mexicans to enter the United States and engage in business activities at a professional level.

60+ types of professionals are eligible for TN visas, and one of them is “economists” — specializing in either microeconomics or macroeconomics.

What are the requirements for qualifying for the Economist TN visa? What is the process of applying for a TN visa as an economist? This “TN Visa Economist” guide will answer these questions and provide the information one needs to get a TN visa as an economist.

Typical TN Visa Economist Job Duties

TN Visa Economist Job Duties

The TN visa requirements do not specify the job duties of a TN economist category. But people refer to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) for guidance on what is generally accepted as TN economist job duties.

According to the handbook, Economists “conduct research, prepare reports, and evaluate issues related to monetary and fiscal policy.”

It goes on to list specific duties of economists, including the following:

  • Research economic issues, especially those related to the labor force, international trade, and industrial organization.
  • Conduct surveys and gather data on topics related to the production, distribution, and use of goods and services.
  • Analyze collected data using different techniques (such as mathematical models, statistical tools, etc.
  • Interpret the results of analysis and forecast trends.
  • Develop solutions for economic problems and concerns.
  • Advise government, businesses, and individuals on economic matters.
  • Present research in easily digestible formats (such as tables, charts, etc.) in academic journals, government publications, and other media.

With this, the TN economist category can be used for different positions related to economics and finance. Though an applicant’s job title may not read “Economist,” the important thing is for the job duties to resemble what economists do.

However, a 2017 USCIS policy memorandum narrowed the definition of who can apply for the TN visa under the economist category.

The memo acknowledged that there had been inconsistent adjudications about whether certain professions related to economics (such as financial analysts) qualify for TN visas under the economist profession.

It proceeded to clarify that for an applicant to qualify for the economist TN visa, the person’s job duties must be consistent with the profession of an economist. It then excludes three professions related to economics from qualifying for a TN visa under the category — financial analysts, market research analysts, and marketing specialists. 

Thus, while individuals successfully got economist TN visas using financial analyst roles in the past, the “TN economist visa” memo made it impossible going forward.

TN Visa Application Requirements for an Economist

To qualify for the TN Visa under the economist category, an individual must hold at the very least one of the following from an accredited post-secondary institution of learning:

  • A Baccalaureate (Bachelor’s Degree) or
  • A Licenciatura

The TN regulations do not specify the type of degrees or majors for any TN occupational category. However, the US Department of Labor’s OOH provides guidance on generally acceptable degrees for the economist profession.

Candidates with a Bachelor’s Degree and sufficient course credits in Economics, Statistics, or Mathematics may qualify for entry-level Economist positions.

Besides the educational requirement, additional TN visa economist requirements include:

  • Proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship. A valid international passport also fulfills this requirement.
  • Proof of job offer from a US employer — the TN Employer letter. It should include details of the US job, such as a detailed summary of job duties, engagement duration, remuneration terms, etc.
  • Proof that the job is temporary and that the candidate does not intend to stay permanently in the United States.

The application process for TN Visa economist

application process for economist TN Visa

The application process for a TN Visa is the same for every occupational category. There are three ways of applying for the visa:

Apply at a US Port of Entry

This TN Visa Economist application process is for Canadian citizens, as they are not required to obtain a visa first. 

Candidates only need to arrange the required documentation and submit it to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office at a Port of Entry when entering the US. They can also submit at a pre-flight clearance in their home country or at the airport after arriving in the US.

Adjudication is on the spot. The CBP officer will interview the candidates and instantly inform them of the decision.

Apply by mail 

Canadian citizens can also apply by mail by filing the 1-129 form with the USCIS. Visa processing through this method takes about two months.

Apply to the US embassy or consulate

Mexicans applying for the economist TN visa must do so via a US embassy or Consulate in Mexico. 

Mexican applicants must file a DS-160 application with the embassy to receive the TN visa stamp on their passport. After this, they can apply for entry into the US at a Port of Entry or via the I-129 petition.

Possible Issues with TN Visa as an Economist 

The main issue with getting the Economist TN visa is determining whether a particular job qualifies for the visa under the economist category. 

Know that when applying for the Economist TN visa, it is not the job title that determines whether a particular job is that of an Economist but the primary activity of the job.

However, because NAFTA does not include an in-depth description of the duties of an Economist, there used to be inconsistencies in adjudication about whether certain types of economics-related occupations qualify under the economist profession.

To address these inconsistent adjudications, USCIS issued a policy memo in 2017 to clarify the types of duties permissible for economists. It explains that for an occupation to qualify for the economist TN visa, its primary activities must be consistent with what economists do. This means occupations with a broad range of activities, with only some relating to economics, will not qualify.

Thus, the memo narrowed the types of duties that qualify for the economist TN visa, specifically ruling out financial analysts, market research analysts, and marketing specialists.

Since the memo came out in November 2017, economist TN visa applications and renewals have become subject to heightened scrutiny.

New applicants for the economist TN Visa can expect tougher adjudication. For example, financial analyst-related jobs that used to qualify for the economist TN visa no longer qualify for it. Also, people who are already working in the US with the Economist TN visa and who qualified in the pre-memo time with financial analyst-related jobs will have problems getting extensions and renewals.

What Can You Do If You Have a TN Visa in the Economist Category?

With the new TN Economist visa policy, adjudication for Economists’ TN visas has become tougher. Certain occupations that used to qualify for TN visas in the Economist category no longer qualify.

As such, people who are already working in the US with the economist TN visa may have their petition adjudicated again when they leave the US and are reentering, even though they may have time left on their visa. That is, because you still have time on your approved Economist TN visa does not mean you will be readmitted into the US if you leave the country.

Thus, if you have an approved TN Economist visa, you should speak with a lawyer or TN Visa consultant to help you assess how the new policy will affect you. This is especially important if you want to travel out of the United States.

Anyone with an economist TN Visa should expect increased scrutiny by US CBP officers when entering the US. It wouldn’t matter that they hold approved visas. Economist TN visa workers will answer more detailed questions about job duties to prove they meet the new guidelines.

People who do not meet the new guidelines (like those who got their economist TN visa using jobs like financial analysts and market research analysts) should avoid traveling out of the country. They run the risk of being refused to reenter the US for not meeting the new guidelines.

People who are already working in the US with the economist TN visa, who do not meet the new guidelines, should consider applying for another TN visa category or other immigration visa options.


Canadian and Mexican citizens can qualify for TN status to work in the US in the profession of Economist.

TN Economist visa applicants need at least a baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree and must engage in activities consistent with the economist profession.

However, a new policy has narrowed the range of occupations that qualify for TN visas. This makes the economist TN visa adjudication tougher, creating challenges for new applicants as well as those who have approved visas.

Thankfully, expert guidance from TN Visa Experts can help candidates overcome these challenges.

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