Holiday Travel Advisory – Beware Changing Interpretation of “Economist” for Foreign Nationals Holding TN Status

In addition to the long lines, weather delays, expensive travel tickets, and the list of other travel headaches during the holiday season, certain foreign nationals holding Trade NAFTA (TN) status may also have to deal with increased scrutiny as to whether they remain eligible for the visa classification previously granted to them due to new TN policy guidance.  Specifically, when returning to the United States after temporary foreign travel, Canadian and Mexican nationals who have previously been granted TN admission as economists may be required to demonstrate that their job duties in the United States (U.S.) continue to fall within the purview of what an economist would normally do. Background NAFTA permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to come to the U.S. temporarily in order to work in certain professional occupations. These eligible occupations include, among others, engineers, nurses, lawyers, accountants, and economists.  On November 20, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a memorandum on the specific work activities officers should consider when determining whether an individual qualifies for TN nonimmigrant status as an economist.  On December 18, 2017 (conveniently before the rush of the Christmas holiday), USCIS announced the release of the “clarifying guidance” to the public. The memo states that in order to qualify for TN status as an economist, professionals must engage in duties that are primarily associated with the occupation, as defined by...

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