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Rising Tide of TN Visa Denials for Certain Occupations Across Consulates in Mexico: What to Know and How to Avoid a Denial

U.S. Consulates in Mexico

In this article, we bring you the most recent developments that you need to know about TN visa processing challenges surfacing in Mexico for certain occupational categories. 

A new rising trend in TN visa denials in Mexico is growing across U.S. Consulates specifically at the three processing posts located in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Ciudad Juarez

Since at least September of 2023, Mexican TN visa applicants in the following occupations have been negatively impacted by increasing denial rates occurring in both initial and renewal TN visa applications as follows: 

  • Scientific Technicians/Technologists (STT)
  • Animal Scientists
  • Animal Breeders
  • Agriculturalists and 
  • Engineers

Reportedly, the wave of TN visa denials in Mexico has largely affected TN visa applicants in the agricultural and food safety industries. Certain engineers have also been negatively impacted including those working in occupations in the auto, food industry, and animal husbandry sectors.  

Those who have been denied following their Consular interview in Mexico have received a refusal letter under section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. 

Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), states that applicants are presumed to be intending immigrants unless they credibly demonstrate, to the consular officer’s satisfaction, that their economic, family, and social ties outside the United States are strong enough that they will depart at the end of their authorized stay and that their intended activities in the United States will be consistent with the TN visa status.

The most common grounds for denial have included that the position or job duties does not match the TN occupational category, the beneficiary does not meet the TN eligibility requirements, and the position is not a professional TN position.

In a recent meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Department of State’s Liaison Committee acknowledged this uptick in denials.  

Representatives from the State Department cited three likely reasons for the upward trend among TN visa applicants at these posts. 

First, the Consulate revealed that all three Consulates in Mexico recently went through a harmonization process to provide a common standard for adjudicating TN visa applications across the board. This may have resulted in more scrutiny, and as a result an increase in refusals. 

Second, representatives stated that another likely reason is that, at the interview, officers may have determined that the TN visa was inappropriate for certain applicants depending upon the purpose of the applicant’s entry into the U.S. 

For instance, for jobs in the agricultural and food industries, the most appropriate visa type for the proposed endeavor could be the H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B, not the TN visa. This could be yet another reason an increasing number of TN visas are being denied among the agricultural and food safety industries. 

Finally, abuse of the TN visa program by U.S. employers is another likely cause for the rising denial rates. Recent media reports have shown that the TN visa has been misused by employers who have sought to hire TN visa workers under false pretenses. Once workers arrive in the U.S., such companies have assigned them duties inconsistent with the TN visa program, for example hiring Scientific Technicians/Technologists (STT) as auto line technicians, and engineers as assembly line workers in violation of the TN visa regulations. 

How you can avoid a TN visa denial in Mexico


To avoid TN visa denials at the U.S. Consulates in Mexico, the Liaison Committee has provided the following tips for Mexico TN visa applicants to decrease the likelihood of a denial 

  • Job titles should accurately match one of the TN occupational titles listed in Appendix 2 of Annex 16-A of the USMCA, Chapter 16
  • The TN job duties and description of responsibilities should be aligned with the occupational category. A good resource to check for the occupational category is O*NET, which the U.S. Department of Labor sponsors
  • The TN position must comply with the TN regulations on paper and in practice
  • For TN applications of Scientific Technicians/Technologists (STTs) specifically, the applicant must provide direct support to the supervising designated professional, not subordinates or line workers. The application must demonstrate that the professional providing oversight and to whom the STT is reporting has the proper credentials as a professional in their own right. 
  • Scientific Technicians/Technologists (STTs) pursuing visas for work that is typically performed by tradesmen or construction workers, such as welding, electrical, and carpentry, will not be approved for the TN visa even in specialized trade industries
  • Engineers should be using their practical and theoretical knowledge, and their duties should not focus on routine maintenance with general day-to-day operation of the equipment except in analytical problem-solving or efficiency solutions. They should not be working on an assembly line or simply performing the role of line technicians.
  • Agriculturalist and Animal breeder positions may consider pursuing an H-2A or be prepared to prove the scientific nature of the job duties extensively.
  • Food safety scientists or Scientific Technicians/Technologists (STTs in Food safety must be warned that any work on the production line, even if incidental, may trigger a denial.
  • As with all TN applications, applicants must be mindful of non-immigrant intent, as well as to demonstrate that their stay in the U.S. is temporary (for instance by providing strong proof of ties to their home country)
  • Proper interview preparation prior to the interview is crucial to ensure applicants are familiar with their job title, duties, and any relevant issues/questions that may come up about their future position or their background and qualifications for the TN visa.
  • Petitioning employers should be aware of the new TN adjudicatory trend and have a backup plan to file in an alternative visa category when possible (such as the H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, etc.)
  • Employers must be familiar with the TN visa regulations and limitations for specific positions so that they are well known to management. Employers should be aware that TNs will not be admitted to perform positions that are not of a professional nature or job functions primarily associated with other job titles.

Applicants filing TN extensions may also consider filing their applications with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) instead of undergoing consular processing.  However, it is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages in doing so such as the high cost of USCIS filing fees, and keeping in mind that an approved USCIS petition does not guarantee approval at the Consulate. A Consular officer is not required to provide deference where USCIS approvals have been obtained by the applicant. For agricultural and food safety workers, there may be other alternative visa types that are better suited for the position. It is important for applicants to explore all suitable options. 

How to Increase Your Chances of TN Visa Approval in Mexico

If you are a Mexican national and your proposed occupation falls within the categories of workers affected by the new trend in TN visa denials, we invite you to contact us to further evaluate whether the TN visa is right for you.