U.S. Department of State Issues Guidance on Sci/Techs

The Visa Office at the State Department has provided AILA with the text of a January 4, 2008, e-mail reminder to U.S. consular posts regarding the qualifications for a TN visa under the Scientific Technician/Technologist category. The text is as follows:

In order for an occupation to qualify as a “Scientific Technician/Technologist” under NAFTA Appendix 1603.D.1, the position must involve the use of principles of science, research and development, and/or scientific observations and calculations. (This is from the DOL job description.) The position must be in direct support of a professional in one of the sciences. The position must primarily include activity consistent with the support of a science professional. (This is from NAFTA Appendix 1603.D.1, footnote 5.) The technician who assists the engineer in the lab to design and develop a new technology may qualify as a scientific technician, but the mechanic who repairs and maintains that same technology after it’s built and used in everyday life, is not a scientific technician. From AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08022774 (posted Feb. 27, 2008).

This e-mail really does not provide any additional insight into the Sci/Tech category and merely reiterates policy provided in previously issued legacy INS memoranda. See, e.g., the Cronin Memo (Nov. 7, 2002) (stating that a degree or post-secondary diploma is not required for a Sci/Tech) and the Williams Memo (Nov. 7, 2002) (outlining five principles to consider for Sci/Tech eligibility).

The U.S. State Department is in charge of visa issuance policy, and has no authority over TN applications handled at the border or through USCIS. I suspect the DOS issued this e-mail to address problems U.S. consulates may have in adjudicating applications for Sci/Tech visas filed by Mexican citizens.