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TN Visa Accountant
Different options are available when immigrating to the United States, depending on nationality, education, profession, and specific circumstances. One of the most popular options for Canadians and Mexicans is the TN visa, which allows professionals to come to the U.S. to work in prearranged jobs.
Interestingly, one of the professions that qualify for the TN visa is “Accountant” – business professionals who prepare and maintain financial reports.
What does an individual need to qualify for a TN visa as an accountant? What challenges do accountants face when applying for TN visas, and how do candidates overcome these challenges?
This accountant TN visa guide will answer these questions.
Types of accountants
While all accountants prepare and maintain financial reports, there are different types of accountants. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook gives the types of accountants as follows:
These are accountants employed by federal, state, and local governments to maintain the records of government agencies. They manage public funds, ensuring revenues are spent according to laws and regulations.
These are also called corporate, cost, managerial, industrial, or private accountants. They work in government agencies, public companies, and private businesses.
They provide a wide range of financial analysis services to guide business decision-making. That is, Management Accountants prepare and analyze accounting and financial information to provide management teams with reliable figures on which to base critical strategic decisions. The information they prepare is for internal use by the management team and not for the public.
These accountants prepare and maintain reports that clients are by law required to disclose, such as tax forms and financial statements that corporations must provide to current and potential investors.
Public accountants provide different accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks.
Typical accountant job duties
The regulations do not state the accepted job duties for any occupations qualifying for TN visas. However, the OOH provides the generally accepted duties of the accountant role.
It states that accountants typically do the following:
- Examine financial statements to ensure they are accurate and comply with relevant laws and regulations.
- Organize and maintain financial records.
- Compute taxes owed, prepare tax returns, and ensure that taxes accurately are paid and on time.
- Inspect account books and accounting systems to efficiently and use accepted accounting procedures.
- Assess financial operations and make recommendations to management about best practices.
- Suggests ways to reduce cost, improve revenue, and boost profits.
Requirements for an accountant
Under the United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which preceded NAFTA, only a Bachelor’s degree was an acceptable educational credential to qualify for visa status as an Accountant.
C.P.A and C.A. credentials were later added as alternatives to the bachelor’s degree requirement so that individuals well established in the profession but do not hold baccalaureates can also qualify. C.M.A. and C.G.A. certifications were added later, as well as a Licenciatura degree, as an alternative qualification for the bachelor’s degree.
Thus, the educational qualification for the TN visa as an accountant is one of the following:
- Bachelor’s (baccalaureate) degree
- Licenciatura degree
- Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.) certification
- Chartered Accountant (C.A.) certification
- Certified General Accountant (C.G.A.) certification
- Certified Management Accountant (C.M.A.) certification
The regulations also do not specify the degree or majors that qualify for the accountant TN visa. However, the OOH says accountants typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field such as business.
In addition to the educational requirement, individuals hoping to qualify for TN status as Accountants must meet the general eligibility requirements for a TN visa. For example:
- Candidates must have documentation that proves their citizenship. This is because the TN visa is only for Canadians and Mexicans. A valid passport is sufficient documentation for proving citizenship.
- Candidates must have documentation proving that their U.S. visit is for pre-arranged business activities. This documentation is usually a letter from the prospective U.S. employer. The TN Employer Letter should state the job title and detailed summary of job duties, the engagement duration, and remuneration terms.
Application Process for TN Visa for Accountant
The application process for a TN visa is the same irrespective of the occupational category. However, the process is different for Canadians and Mexicans.
How Canadians can apply for Accountant TN Visa
Canadians can submit a TN visa application to USCBP (U.S. Custom and Border Protection) officers at any POE (Port Of Entry) throughout Canada. This can be at any land or sea Class A port or entry, pre-clearance center (pre-flight station), or U.S. international airport. The USCBP officer will decide on the spot. If the petition is approved, the candidate can enter the U.S. and may begin working the same day.
Another option for Canadians is to apply by mail to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) office. This option addressed the inconsistencies in the on-the-spot decisions of USCBP officers.
To use this option, candidates must file Form I-129 and the Free Trade Supplement, include all supporting documentation, and mail the application to the USCIS’ Vermont Service Center. It can take up to two months to get a decision. However, candidates can speed up the application processing and get a decision in just over two weeks (by paying an additional filing fee).
How Mexicans can apply for Accountant TN Visa
Mexicans are required to have a TN Visa stamp on their passport. So, Mexicans must file their application at a US Embassy or Consulate in Mexico. This process also requires completing the DS-160 form. Candidates will then be scheduled for an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. They need to attend the interview and pay the interview fee.
Successful candidates will receive the TN visa stamp on their passports, which they can use to gain entry into the U.S. at the POE.
How to apply for an Accountant Job without an Accountant Degree
A clear path to qualifying for the accountant TN visa has an accountant degree. However, individuals can still qualify for TN visa status as Accountants without an accountant degree.
There are two paths to qualifying for the accountant TN visa without an accountant degree: (i) having accounting certification and (ii) having a degree in a field relating to accounting.
Qualifying for the Accountant TN Visa with only certification
In addition to the Bachelor’s or Licenciatura degree requirement, the TN visa requirement lists four (4) accounting certifications that would qualify an individual for the accountant TN visa. These are Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.), Chartered Accountant (C.A.), Certified General Accountant (C.G.A.), and Certified Management Accountant (C.M.A.).
These certifications were added as an alternative to the degree requirement so that individuals who do not hold degrees but are well established in the accounting profession could qualify for TN status as accountants. Thus, having one of C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A. will qualify an individual for the accountant TN visa even without an accountant degree.
Qualifying for the Accountant TN Visa with a degree in a field closely relating to accounting
While the TN regulations do not specify the degree or majors that qualify for the accountant TN visa, the OOH states that a qualifying degree can be in a field closely related to accounting, such as finance and business.
Thus, individuals without an accountant degree but with degrees in finance or business may qualify for an accountant TN visa. However, to successfully apply for a TN visa with a finance or business degree, an individual must show sufficient nexus between the degree and an accounting degree.
Challenges with TN Visa Accountant Jobs
Generally, people face challenges when applying for TN visas come from proving that they meet TN visa accountant requirements.
Thus, for the TN Visa Accountant jobs, the common challenges that candidates face are:
- Showing that they qualify for TN status when having degrees that do not specifically name them as accountants.
- Showing that they qualify for TN status when their prospective job titles do not specifically name them as accountants
When candidates have degrees that do not specifically name them “accountant.”
Suppose a candidate has a bachelor’s degree in accounting or has any of the four accepted accounting certifications. In that case, there is no doubt about meeting the educational requirements for the accountant’s TN visa.
However, suppose a candidate’s credential is a degree that does not specifically name him/ her as an accountant (like a Bachelor’s in Commerce or Financial Management). In that case, there may be a problem with getting approval. True, a degree in a field closely related to accounting qualifies for the accountant TN visa. However, the candidate has to show beyond doubt that the non-accounting degree is closely related to accounting.
The candidate should first refer to the OOH guide that states that accountants need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field such as business. Then, he/she should show how his/ her business degree is closely related to an accounting degree.
One way to do this is to show his/ her academic transcripts and highlight the accounting courses. Another way is to show an official document from his/ her academic institution stating how the non-accounting degree prepares him/ her for a career in accounting.
When the prospective job titles of candidates do not specifically name them as “accountant.”
It is expected that candidates applying for an accountant TN visa are seeking entry into the U.S. to work in “accountants” roles. Thus, if the prospective U.S. job of a candidate is not titled “accountant” or includes some duties that do not align with what accountants do, there may be problems with getting approval.
For example, most accountants find themselves in different job titles, including Account Payable Specialist, Accounting Assistant, Bookkeeper, etc. However, the OOH classifies these job titles under “Office and Administrative Support Occupation.”. Thus, while a candidate may be an accountant and perform accounting duties in the role, the job title will make it very difficult to gain approval for the TN visa as an accountant.
As a solution, the candidate may show that the prospective job duties align with the generally accepted duties of accountants. He/ she may also get a support letter from the prospective U.S. employer explaining that “accountants” generally fill that job title.
However, the best way to navigate this challenge is to work with the prospective employer to change the job title to something that matches that of the accountant TN occupational category.
It is also essential that what candidates and their TN Support letter say about their prospective job duties matches the generally accepted duties of accountants.
Similar Job titles that can be used for Accountant Jobs
Professional accountants find themselves under different job titles. Candidates with these job titles may qualify for the accountant TN visa if they can prove that they meet the requisite educational and job duties requirement. These similar job titles that can be used for accountant jobs include:
- Bookkeepers. Bookkeepers record the transactions of a business. The OOH lists Bookkeeper as a “similar occupation” to Accountants. However, with this job title also listed under “Office and Administrative Support Occupations,” it may be difficult to use it to qualify for the accountant TN visa (but not impossible).
- Internal Auditors. These professionals evaluate a company’s operations to ensure accurate accounting. The OOH lists Accountants and Auditors as the same job, with the same educational qualifications and duties. So, it will not be difficult to qualify for an accountant TN visa with an Internal Auditor job.
- Financial Analysts. These professionals undertake financial analysis to use findings to help companies make sound business decisions. The OOH lists Financial Analysts as a “similar occupation” to Accountants, and most Financial Analysts as the same qualifications as Accountants.
- Financial Managers. These professionals create financial reports, direct investment decisions, and ensure the financial health of organizations. The OOH also lists Financial Managers as a “similar occupation” to Accountants and adds that most Financial Managers have a background in Accounting.
- Chief Financial Officers (CFO). A CFO is an executive officer responsible for the overall financial activities of a company. A CFO is the most senior accountant in an organization. The OOH says many accountants rise through the organization to become Chief Financial Officers so that CFOs have no problem qualifying for TN status as accountants.
“Accountants” is one of the occupational categories that qualify for TN Visas. The qualifying requirement for the accountant TN visa is a baccalaureate degree, a Licenciatura degree, or the accounting certifications C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A., or C.M.A.
Professionals applying for accountant TN visas may face challenges when their degrees are not in accounting or their prospective job titles are not “Accountants.” However, expert guidance from TN Visa Experts can help candidates overcome many common accountant TN visa challenges.
There are no direct costs to a U.S. employer for sponsoring a TN visa. The only “cost” to the company is the time and effort spent to write the TN Support Letter for the candidate.
There is no minimum salary requirement under NAFTA visa rules. So, accountants can apply for TN visas irrespective of what they will earn in their future jobs. However, if the salary is low, the adjudicating officer may reason that the candidate cannot support himself/ herself, leading to a denial of the TN visa.
nting profession has many job opportunities, making it one of the easiest to find U.S employment for the TN visa. However, candidates need a degree or one of four accounting certificates.