Qualifying for TN Visa based on Three-Year Degree

Question: I graduated from a three year Industrial Design Advanced Diploma program, which was evaluated by as "the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design at an accredited institution in the United States. Would I be able to use this letter in combination with my Diploma to qualify for a TN visa, as a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree?

Answer: A three-year bachelor's degree may be problematic if presenting it as the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree. However, there is authority for qualifying for a TN based on a three-year bachelor’s degree. A legacy INS document specifically stated that to qualify under the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, the predecessor to NAFTA, “[t]here is no requirement that the baccalaureate be gained in a four-year academic program.” In coming to this determination, the INS had noted that “[t]hree-year baccalaureate programs are common in Canadian colleges and universities, and are qualifying for [the Free Trade Agreement].”See INS Operations Instructions § 214.6 (c) (9).

While it may be possible to qualify for TN visa status based on a 3 year bachelor's degree, U.S. immigration has refused to accept some three-year bachelor’s degrees for employment based green card applications. See, e.g., Matter of X (AAO Jan. 20 2004).

Note: An individual may not rely on a post-secondary diploma from a non-NAFTA country in order to qualify for TN occupational categories where possession of a post-secondary diploma is an alternative credential for eligibility. See Degrees & Diplomas.