Qualifying under the Hotel Management TN Category.

Can an individual with a bachelor’s degree in hotel management qualify for NAFTA TN status under the Hotel Management TN Category where the proposed work is at a restaurant located within a hotel?

The main issue here is whether the applicant will actually be working for a hotel and involves two possible scenarios: (1) is the restaurant owned by the hotel? or (2) is the restaurant merely affiliated with the hotel, and not owned by the hotel?

In the first instance, a qualifying individual should be able to obtain TN status under the Hotel Manager category provided the employer is actually the hotel and/or the restaurant is owned by the hotel. The second scenario may be more problematic.

The Hotel Manager TN category presumes employment with a hotel, not a restaurant. It does not provide explicit TN authorization for management of a restaurant that is separate and distinct from the hotel. The NAFTA regulations list the permissible qualifications for the Hotel Manager TN category as: (i) a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or (ii) a Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management.

An individual with credentials in restaurant management may be eligible for the Hotel Management TN category. However, this authorization is limited to work in a hotel or perhaps a restaurant owned by a hotel. An individual seeking TN status as a manager at a restaurant that is separate and distinct from a hotel may not be eligible for TN status under the Hotel Manager category.

The majority of hotels lease restaurant space to restaurateurs. In this situation, an individual seeking TN status as a manager at the restaurant would probably not qualify under the Hotel Manager TN category. When a hotel enters into a partnership with a restaurant company, an argument can be made that employment is with the hotel. On the other hand, where the hotel retains ownership of the restaurant or where the hotel has become a franchisee of a restaurant chain, then a stronger argument for TN status can be made.