The answer is yes. The visa they can apply for is the TN, which was created as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada-USA-Mexico. The TN visa is only for Mexican or Canadian citizens who have studied a profession recognized by NAFTA. Not all professions or university careers are recognized. There is an official list of professions and the requirements of each.
To see the complete list of all professions and what each one requires, you can go to this website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1274.html.
Among the list of professionals who can apply for a TN visa are: accountants, architects, computer systems analysts, economists, engineers, graphic designers, industrial engineers, interior designers, lawyers, hotel managers, consultants, mathematicians, social workers , etc. In the medical area: dentists, medical laboratory technicians, nutritionists, occupational therapists, doctors (only as teachers or doing studies), physical therapists, psychologists, registered nurses, veterinarians, etc. In the area of science, we have farmers, beekeepers, biologists, chemists, epidemiologists, geologists, horticulturists, pharmacologists, meteorologists, physicists, zoologists, etc. Finally in the area of education, we have university professors.
Many of the TN visa professions require that the person have at least a college degree. However, in some cases, if they do not have a university degree, the person can use the experience they have in that field in exchange for the degree.
For example, a profession that requires a degree to be able to work is that of an accountant. It requires that you have a university degree (American-baccalaureate or Mexican-bachelor’s degree) or that you have a license as an accountant (CPA, CA, CGA, or CMA). As you can see, it means that if you have a license it’s fine, but it’s not a requirement as long as you have a degree in accounting. A profession that does not necessarily require a university degree is industrial engineering. The law allows you to have a university degree (American-baccalaureate or Mexican-bachelor’s degree) or a post-secondary certificate and three years of experience in the area of engineering.
Finally, if the profession requires the professional to have a license, the person applying for the TN visa must have the license required by the state. For example, if the person wants to work as a dentist in Texas, they will need to have a Texas license to practice the profession. However, if a person will be an internal accountant for a company, they do not need to have a license. Or an architect who goes to work for an architectural firm making drawings but who does not sign the plans is fine to do so without having a license. Generally, the TN visa for Mexicans is obtained by directly filing a petition with the North American Consulate.
The TN visa closely resembles the H-1B visa in that the two are “professional” visas, but there is one important difference. The H-1B visa is subject to an annual cap of 65,000 places while there is no cap for the TN visa. Today, there are no longer H-1B visas available. So if a Texas company wants to hire a Mexican engineer, they can do so by means of a TN visa. However, if you want to hire a European engineer, you will not be able to do so because the Europeans do not qualify for a TN visa, and there are no more available H-1B visas this year.
This article originally appeared in Spanish in Periódico El Bravo and has been translated to English by RGVision Media.