Christian School Eligible for Teacher TN Visa?
Question: I'm a Canadian citizen currently working in the U.S. under an OPT extension of my student visa. I have a BSc. in music from an American institution. I'm employed as a music teacher (K-12, piano/flute lessons) at a Christian school in PA. Will my job qualify me for a TN visa?
Answer: In order to qualify for a TN as a Teacher, you must teach either at a college, university, or seminary. As a K-12 school cannot be considered a college or university, the only other option is if a K-12 Christian school can be considered a Seminary.
The term seminary is not defined in the TN regulations, but we can look to the everyday meaning of the word for guidance. Roget’s Dictionary defines seminary as “[a] school, especially a theological school for the training of priests, ministers, or rabbis.” The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines seminary as “a training college for priests or rabbis.” Merriam-Webster defines a seminary as "an institution of secondary or higher education; esp. an academy for girls." If it can be shown that a school can qualify as a seminary under one of these definitions, then an argument may be made for a TN visa under the Teacher category.
Alternatively, the position may be a good candidate for an H-1B visa. It may also qualify for an exemption to the annual numerical cap on H-1B visas if it is a non-profit related to a university or college. Many primary/secondary schools qualify for this exemption if the school is a non-profit and has an established student teaching program, for example, with a university or college.