TN Visa Application Guidelines for Engineer and Software Engineer
What exactly is required to apply for a TN Visa as an Engineer? Many people think they know this answer, but there are nuances the Immigration Officer looks for, which if you make a mistake in your application, will get you denied. This engineer TN visa article will explain everything you need to know about applying for a TN Visa as an Engineer or Software Engineer.
A foreign national must obtain a work visa to enter the United States, Mexico, or Canada. The TN Visa is a work status under United State Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This trade agreement allows Canadian and Mexican professionals to enter the U.S. and work in prearranged business activities. It also allows Americans to work in Canada and Mexico.
“Engineer” is among the 63 occupational categories under which you can apply for a TN Visa.
What is an Engineer for the TN Visa
Engineer is a broad term covering all professionals who analyze, design, build, and test complex systems to fulfill functional objectives and requirements.
Engineer is one of the occupations that qualify for the TN Visa. When applying as an Engineer you must be qualified and have a pre-arranged job in one of the different engineering specialties (electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, software, etc.).
What is required when applying for a TN Visa as an engineer?
Today, to qualify for TN Visa under the Engineer occupational category, you must have one of the following:
- Bachelor’s (Baccalaureate) degree
- Licenciatura degree
- State or provincial license
TN Visa Engineer job duties requirements
Knowing the TN Visa Engineer job duties is critical to your success of the visa application.
You are asked about your job duties for your new job in your application. Your application may be denied if the stated duties do not match NAFTA’s duties of the role.
The USMCA (NAFTA) regulations do not state the acceptable duties for engineers.
However, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) provides the generally accepted job duties of all Occupations. Immigration Officers use this as a source of reference, and you should as well.
The TN Engineer’s duties differ according to the different specializations. For example, accepted duties of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Civil Engineers, and Mechanical Engineers are as follows:
|Electrical and Electronics Engineer
|Design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment like communication systems, power generation systems, electric motors, etc.
|Electrical EngineersDevelop manufacturing and installation standards and specs for electrical systemsDesign new ways to use electrical power to improve productsDirect the manufacture, installation, and testing of electrical equipmentsElectronics EngineersDesign electronics components, products, etc for military, industrial, or scientific applications Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic equipment and componentsInspect electronic equipment to ensure that they meet safety and other applicable standardsDevelop modifications for electronic properties used in systems
|Design, build, supervise, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems, including buildings, roads, bridges, etc.
|Analyze plans for infrastructural projectsConsider construction costs, government regulations, and environmental impact of projectsPrepare and submit permit applications to appropriate governmental agencies verifying that the project comply with regulationsAnalyze the result of tests on building materials (e.g. concrete tests)Prepare costs estimatesPerform or oversee surveying operations required for infrastructural projectsOversee the maintenance, repair, or replacement of infrastructure
|Design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal devices and sensors
|Analyze problems to determine how mechanical and thermal devices would helpDesign or redesign mechanical and thermal devices or subsystemsInvestigate equipment failures to determine problems and recommend solutionsDesign and test prototypes of devicesOversee the manufacturing process of devices.
|Create computer applications or programs that allow users do specific tasks
|Design and develop software systems to meet users’ needsDocument every aspect of a program as a reference for future maintenance and testing Maintain software systems to ensure that they continue to work normallyRecommend software upgrades for existing systemsOptimize software for speed and scalabilityCreate different models showing programmers the code needed for an application
Challenges with the Engineer job
Many applicants applying for the TN visa under the Engineer category face some challenges, so learn how to overcome them for your TN visa application.
The most common challenges are:
- You must have an Engineering Degree
- Your engineering specialization (engineering degree) must align with the job duties you plan to apply to
Challenge 1: Do you have an Engineering Degree?
The first requirement to be successful when applying for the Engineer TN visa is to have a degree in the related engineer field.
Candidates applying for Engineer TN visas will have problems getting approval if they do not have an engineering educational qualification. That is, a candidate with a degree in the biological sciences will not qualify for a TN Visa as an Engineer.
Challenge 2: Does your Engineering degree align to the job?
The second requirement to be successful when applying for the Engineer TN visa is for the qualifying degree to be in the same or closely related field.
For this reason, even candidates with engineering degrees will have problems getting approval if their degrees do not match the jobs they are applying for. That is, a candidate with a Civil Engineering degree will not qualify for a TN visa if the prospective job has duties that do not match the generally accepted duties of Civil Engineers.
What is the difference between a software engineer and an engineer?
Engineers analyze, design, build, and test complex systems to fulfill functional objectives and requirements. Software engineers design and develop computer systems and applications to solve real-world problems, so software engineers are actual “engineers.”
There was a question about whether a Software Engineer can apply for a TN Visa under the “Engineer” category. Thankfully, the Cronin memo issued in 2000 clarified this, stating that Software Engineers are “Engineers” and qualify for the TN classification.
The memo put to rest the discussion about the difference between an engineer and a software engineer. Most Software Engineers now apply for TN visas under the “Engineer” category, if they have an engineering degree.
In terms of the TN visa, the only difference between an engineer and a software engineer is that while the former requires an engineering degree, the latter does not.
That is, to qualify for the TN visa engineer job in other engineering fields (mechanical, civil, etc), an engineering degree is a must. However, an engineering degree is not necessary to qualify for the software TN visa engineer. For example, computer science may qualify for the Engineer TN visa with a computer science degree, as this is a degree closely related to Software Engineering. If this is your situation and you decide to apply, be careful as the final decision rests with the Immigration Officer and he may deny you.
- The NAFTA “engineer” occupational category is very broad, and covers all engineering specializations
- To qualify for the Engineer TN visa, applicants need a degree in the same or a closely related field.
- The accepted duties of the “engineer” occupational category vary according to the different engineering fields.
Because of how broad the “Engineer” NAFTA occupational category is, many applicants find it challenging. First is the challenge of having an engineering degree. Then, the engineering degree must match the prospective job.
Going it on your own might be more challenging than you know. But with guidance from TN Visa Expert, your Engineer TN visa application can be seamless.
Everything you should know when applying for a TN Visa as a Software Engineer
Do Software Engineers not qualify for TN visas? What USMCA (NAFTA) Occupation to use when applying? What options do Software Engineers have when pursuing a TN visa? The following sections will answer these and related questions.
“Software Engineer” is just one of the many occupational titles in the IT industry. Software Engineers are IT professionals who design and develop computer systems and applications to solve real-world problems.
The TN visa is a special NAFTA visa allowing professionals in North America to enter and work in the US. The TN visa occupation list includes many IT-related professional occupations that can qualify for the TN Visa. However, it does not include “Software Engineer.”
Common Issues For Software Engineers When Applying For TN Visa?
Software Engineers applying for TN visas face the challenge of demonstrating they meet the required educational qualifications.
Since “Software Engineer” is not among the 63 professional occupations that qualify for TN Visa, software engineers may apply under the broader “Engineer” or “Computer Systems Analyst” category.
Whether Software Engineers can apply for TN Visa under the “Engineer” occupational category was settled when the Cronin memo was issued in 2000 and clarified that Software Engineers are “engineers.”
However, another issue reared its head: adjudicating officers require that candidates applying under the “engineer” category have a degree in Engineering.
In the IT field, many jobs are listed as Software engineer and require a Computer science degree. If you fall into this category, you must proceed with caution because when the Immigration officer sees the “engineer” term in the title, they expect either the applicant or the applicant’s boss to have an Engineering degree.
As a result, many software engineers applying for TN visas are denied for not meeting minimum educational qualifications.
TN Visa Software Engineer Requirements and Job Duties Requirements
Since software engineers apply for TN visas under the “Engineer” category, they are also assessed by TN engineer’s qualifying credentials as per USMCA (NAFTA).
According to the regulations, TN engineers should have at least one of the following:
- Bachelor’s (Baccalaureate) degree
- Licenciatura degree
- State or provincial Engineering license
The TN visa regulation does not specify any degree or major for the Engineer occupational category. However, the Cronin memo does state that a qualifying “degree should be in the field or a closely related field” and that a “degree in an allied field may be appropriate.”
Thus, you will need a degree to apply for the software engineer TN NAFTA visa, and it is preferred to be an engineering degree. Since Computer Science is one of the closest degrees to software engineering, Software Engineers with Computer Science degrees can successfully apply for TN visas under the Engineer category – but there is a chance you may get denied, so be careful. Contact us for further assistance in this situation.
Using the OOH handbook as a reference, the generally accepted duties of a software engineer are:
- Design and develop software systems to meet users’ needs
- Document every aspect of a program as a reference for future maintenance and testing
- Maintain software systems to ensure that they continue to work normally
- Recommend software upgrades for existing systems
- Optimize software for speed and scalability
- Create different models showing programmers the code needed for an application
Challenges with the Software Engineer Job
Another common challenge when applying as a software engineer is proving the duties to be performed align with what software engineers do.
For example, most software engineers perform some programming duties. However, suppose you mention your duties for the software engineer position will involve programming. In that case, the adjudicating officer may classify the position as a computer programmer job and deny the applicant the TN visa.
Even though many software engineers perform some degree of programming, TN visa regulations do not accept programming as a job duty of software engineers.
Consider the OOH manual’s discussion of “Software Developers” (which is used for a software engineer). The manual states that software developers work closely with programmers by developing models to show programmers the codes needed for an application. However, it concedes that “some developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to programmers.”
That said, when applying for a TN visa as a software engineer, you will need to decide if you will mention whether your duties involve programming or not. Definitely focus on your duties around the design and analysis of software systems.
How to apply for a Software Engineer Job Without an Engineer Degree
The key to successfully applying for a TN visa for a software engineer without an engineering degree is establishing a relationship between the degree and the software engineer position.
Applicants should show their non-engineer degrees do not automatically disqualify them.
First, applicants should refer to the Cronin memo stating: a qualifying “degree should be in the field or a closely related field” and that a “degree in an allied field may be appropriate.”
Then they should refer to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which states, “college majors for applications software engineers are computer science, software engineering, or mathematics.”
It would also help to refer to the O*NET manual, which lists “software engineer” as an alternate title for “software developer.” Then point to the OOH discussion, which names software engineers as one example of a software developer.
If the non-engineer degree is in computer science (as is often the case), these references will show that the degree qualifies the candidate as a TN visa software engineer.
Then applicants show how the non-engineer degree (say a computer science degree) qualifies them for the software engineer occupation. For example, they should provide their official academic transcripts and highlight the courses within the computer science degree that are relevant to the software engineer occupation.
It would also help applicants get additional documentation from their workplace supporting that Software Engineers usually hold computer science degrees.
Similar Job Titles To Use for Software Engineer Job
At the end of the day, candidates who successfully apply for the software engineer TN visa must prove to the adjudicating officer that their degree qualifies them and that their prospective job duties align with what software engineers do. Thus, several IT professionals can apply for the software engineer TN visa.
Some job titles that qualify for the software engineer visa include:
- Computer Systems Analyst
- IT Management Consultant
Computer Systems Analyst
A system analyst is an IT professional who analyzes how data processing can be applied to users’ specific needs and who designs and implements computer systems and procedures to meet these needs.
The position requires a bachelor’s degree, and the OOH handbook says a Computer Science or Information Systems major is common. When mentioning their duties, candidates should emphasize designing computer systems and avoid programming (even if they may do some programming).
IT Management Consultant
An IT Management Consultant analyzes organizations’ technology needs and makes computer systems recommendations to solve problems and boost efficiency.
IT Management Consultants usually have educational qualifications in computer science or information systems. Also, their job duties relate to computer systems.
One of the red flags for Management Consultant positions that Immigration Officers look for is whether the position is related to daily operational tasks since Management consultant roles are strategic and most likely temporary in nature. If your position raises this red flag, you may consider a different tactic.
A Simple Solution for a Software Engineer job without Engineering Degree
A simple solution, if you are applying to a Software Engineer position and do not possess an Engineering degree, is to speak to your employer and ask if the position title be changed to Computer Systems Analyst, Software Analyst or Software Developer since this better describes the job.
You can then apply for the TN Visa under the “Computer Systems Analyst” occupational category instead of the “Engineer” category allowing you and the employer to have peace of mind. You are applying for the correct position, it is aligned with the USMCA (NAFTA) regulations, and you can quickly obtain your TN Visa with little chance of denial.
Though Software Engineer is not an occupational category for a TN visa, Software Engineers can apply for a TN visa. The typical route is applying under the “Engineer” category if you have an Engineering degree.
A qualifying degree can be from a closely related field, so a Computer Science degree qualifies for applying for the Software engineer TN visa under the “engineer” category. However, you will need to prove this to the adjudicating officer.
You will also need to show how your prospective job duties align with what software engineers do. In this regard, you should emphasize that you will design computer systems and avoid mentioning programming because the authorities’ interpretation of a software engineer’s role does not include writing codes.
Need expert help to overcome the many challenges that Software Engineers face when applying for TN visas? Contact TN Visa Expert today!