USCIS has issued new guidance on the TN nonimmigrant classification for economists. Following a Policy Memorandum dated November 20, 2017, USCIS will no longer classify financial analysts, market research analysts, and marketing specialists in the TN economist category. Effectively immediately, these restrictions apply to new applications for TN status, extensions of previously approved applications, and international travel of employees presently in TN economist status.

The new guidance clarifies what types of occupations qualify under the economist profession, as USCIS had seen inconsistent adjudications with certain types of analysts and other occupations. USCIS focuses on the primary activity, not the job title, of the individual, and acknowledges certain duties under the economist classification. In addition to specializing in either microeconomics or macroeconomics, economists may apply economic analysis to issues in a variety of fields and collect and process economic and statistical data using sampling techniques and econometric methods. This description is designed to be consistent with the definition of an economist in the Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH).

Employers should review the applications and upcoming travel plans of all employees in the TN economist category. All TN economists should prepare for increased scrutiny at U.S. ports of entry and be familiar with the contents of their TN support letters to be able to answer any detailed questions related to their job title, duties, and other aspects of employment. The affected employees should make travel plans accordingly to account for any potential delays in addition to an increase in holiday travel.