CBP National Office Guidance on Job Titles for TN Visas

During a recent AILA liaison meeting with CBP's national office, AILA sought confirmation from CBP that officers should evaluate a position's job duties, and not solely its job title, in determining a position's eligibility for TN visa status. AILA / CBP Meeting, Nov. 9, 2011, AILA InfoNet Doc. 12020166 (Posted 02/01/12).

As discussed here previously, whenever there is a discrepancy between a position's job title and the proposed TN occupational category, CBP frequently will deny the application without fully assessing the position's job duties. This is in direct conflict with decisions from USCIS' Administrative Appeals Office, which have stated that the duties of the position, rather than the job title, determine whether the position is a professional occupation under the terms of the NAFTA. See, e.g. In re X., LIN 03 026 507092 (AAO 03-11-2004).

In response to AILA's inquiry, CBP's Office of Field Operations explained that border officers must conduct a complete interview of applicants seeking admission under TN visa status. AILA / CBP Meeting, Nov. 9, 2011. While not explicitly stating that job titles do not govern eligibility, CBP did state that officers will evaluate an applicant's proposed job duties and activities in the U.S. CBP mentioned that a denial may occur if an individual is unable to explain his/her intended activities, or if there is a discrepancy between the duties described by the applicant during inspection and the duties described in the prospective employer's support letter.

AILA also expressed concern over the handling of TN visa applications involving supervisory or managerial duties, or for those working in support of sales activities. Individuals with job titles suggesting supervisory or managerial positions, or sales positions are a lightning rod for denials as CBP believes these are indicative of a position not eligible for TN classification. AILA pointed out that individuals with job titles as, e.g., "engineering manager" or "sales engineer" who still performed engineering duties should still qualify for TN visa status. CBP replied that in such instances an applicant's employer support letter should distinguish between the occupation and the job title in order to establish eligibility for TN visa status.